I thought this posting last week from Harvelle’s, our own oldest blues club in LA, was hilarious: “Dear Harvelle’s Santa Monica Fan, HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY! You know what your Mom would love? THE TOLEDO SHOW! Bring Mom down to hottest Sunday night show in town!”
Well, it is, if you’ve never caught it you must, but unless your Mom was raised at the Body Shop on Sunset Strip, you might want to leave her home.
TONIGHT! — PLACIDO DOMINGO in “El Gato Montés/The Wildcat” (totally entertaining with outstanding voices, a captivating story line with bandits, bullfighters and a beauty, lots of dead bodies, colorfully costumed zarzuela choreography and with our legendary LA Opera chief Placido Domingo taking the lead in one of his favorite operas that he first performed as a young tenor of 17 in Mexico City then again right here in ‘94, now taking the “heavy” role as a powerful baritone but the man can sing and he sure can act and nobody else at 78 is even up there, his 151st role!), Thurs 7:30 p.m., Sun 2 p.m., Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, DTLA, $24-$324.
THE 59TH ANNUAL TOPANGA BANJO-FIDDLE CONTEST AND FOLK FESTIVAL (seemed doomed after the grounds were ravaged by the terrible Woolsey Fire that swept through their Paramount Ranch grounds, consuming almost everything except the spirit of the people who have nurtured it for years, but against all odds and timetables they are back and the show will go on and if you’ve never gone, this is one amazing day of live music EVERYwhere, on stages and under trees, you really shouldn’t claim to live in SoCal if you’ve never been to it, be amazed at the skills of 5-year-old fiddlers and 60-year veterans, clog dancers and flat pickers), Sun 9 a.m. – 6 p.m., Paramount Ranch, Agoura Hills, $15-$22, kids under 9 free.
JOHN HAMMOND (you think with a pioneering musicologist father of the same name he would have grown up to work in a bank? — but there was no guarantee he’d turn out to be such a captivating blues-folk performer in his own right), 8 p.m., 10 p.m., McCabe’s, SM, Fri, $35.
HUBERT LAWS QUINTET (thank you, Jazz Bakery, for continuing to bring legends to our back yard while they still walk the earth and play like angels, here’s one who joined the Jazz Crusaders at 15 and has also excelled in the classical field, as a member of the Met Opera Orchestra, also playing with the NY Phil, and can slide right into R&B and pop too), Sat 8 p.m., Moss Theater, SM, $40.
Party on the Beach (yeah yeah yeah another great summer’s comin’ outdoor blowout with beer and food trucks, dancing, art, but most importantly, DENGUE FEVER on the Main Stage Sat, 6:30, they are the best Cambodian-American ‘60s garage psychedelic band I’ve ever heard, really worth catching), Sat 11 a.m. – 10 p.m., Sun 11 a.m. – 6 p.m., Mother’s Beach, MdR, free.
JON MAYER TRIO ( no, not the pretty decent blues guitar slingin’ JoHn Mayer goofball buddy of Dave Chappelle, but the highly respected NYC “muscular, blues-based “ jazz pianist JON who recorded with Coltrane and Jackie McLean, toured with Dionne Warwick, Sarah Vaughan, Anita O’Day, Manhattan Transfer, and appears here with the outstanding backing of drummer Roy McCurdy and bassist Derek Oles, this could be really good), Sat, Sun 8 p.m., 9:30 p.m., Sam First, LAX, $20-$25 plus one drink per set.
BEVERLY HILLS ART SHOW (I look forward to this every year, if the weather’s nice it’s a great weekend stroll, 250 artists, lots to do), Sat, Sun 10-6, outdoors along SM Blvd betwixt Rodeo & Rexford, BH, free.
I SEE HAWKS IN L.A., The Furious Seasons, Brian Whelan (don’t I keep telling you to check out the unique country rock Americana stylings of Da Hawks? — what are you waiting for?), Sun 8 p.m., The Love Song Bar, DTLA, free.
LISTEN TO MUSIC OUTSIDE IN THE DAYLIGHT AT UNION STATION (just what it says and it sounds great, I’m not familiar with the artists but I am intrigued by all I’ve read and heard about SUDAN MOON, on at 3:15 p.m., a self-taught electric violinist and political activist inspired by African musicians and electronic music, she played the Pier last summer to good reports I heard), Sun 1 p.m. – 4 p.m., Union Station North Patio, DTLA, free.
Mavis & Friends: Celebrating 80 Years of MAVIS STAPLES (she’s not just a legend who changed gospel music with her family band, marched with MLK Jr., folked around with Dylan, who proposed to her and was turned down, she continues, at just a few weeks short of 80, to not only stay relevant but break new ground and fight oppression with love, playing here with some awfully talented friends), Wed 8 p.m., The Theatre at The Ace Hotel, DTLA,
SOUNDWAVES New Music Series – Preview of JACARANDA’S “Vivid Reveries” (clarinet and piano duo? Michelle Zukovsky and pianist Gloria Cheng are masters, it’s right here downtown, open your mind and keep your wallet shut), 7:30 p.m., Main Public Library, DTSM, free.
ALAN PASQUA TRIO, May 24, JOHN BEASLEY’S MONK’ESTRA SEPTET, May 25, Jazz Bakery, Moss Theater, SM; LA PHIL, DUDAMEL – HAYDN, BEETHOVEN Masses, Disney Hall, DTLA, May 25, 26; LITTLE FEAT, Saban Theater, BH, May 25; KOTO & SHAKUHACHI: Japanese Traditional Music Concert, Fairview Branch Library, SM, May 25; SANTA MONICA SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA – Spring Gala Chamber Music Fundraiser, Mayor Riordan’s Brentwood estate, May 25; Annual Memorial Day Weekend Concert, Barnum Hall, SM, May 26; ORCHESTRA SANTA MONICA – “Bohemian Rhapsodies,” Moss Theater, SM, May 26; JACARANDA BENEFIT CONCERT – Varsovia by the Sea, First United Methodist Church, DTSM, May 26; THE STRANGLERS, Regent Theater, DTLA, May 29; PARKENING INTERNATIONAL GUITAR COMPETITION – Pepperdine University, Malibu, May 30; LA PHIL, DUDAMEL – MAHLER’s 8th, Disney Hall, DTLA, May 30, 31; LA PHIL – Noon to Midnight Fluxus Festival, Disney Hall, DTLA, June 1; LA OPERA – LA TRAVIATA, Dorothy Chandler, DTLA, June 1, 9, 13, 16, 19, 22; DAVID ZASLOFF – THE RELUCTANT JEW, Beyond Baroque, Venice, June 1; MIGHTY DIAMONDS – Dub Club, Echoplex, Echo Park, June 5; FATHER JOHN MISTY, JASON ISBELL AND THE 400 UNIT, Santa Barbara Bowl, June 7; DIANE MICHELLE album release party, the Church in Ocean Park, SM, June 9; YELLOWMAN & ALBOROSIE, Regent Theater, DTLA, June 9.
BODACIOUS BIRTHDAY: — ROBERT FRIPP (1946) is nicely sandwiched between two other prog-rock titans, BRIAN ENO (1948) yesterday and BILL BRUFORD (1949) tomorrow, so I shall tell the small tale I have of Bruford.
He went from founding member of Yes to King Crimson to Gong to Genesis to U.K. to his own Earthworks. I’ll summarize his talent this way: just mention his name to any drummer and he will probably immediately genuflect.
I saw him up close with Earthworks some years ago in Surrey, outside London, playing in a basement pizza parlor (?!), Pizza Express, I think. I was so close I could have spit on his kit. But, wisely, didn’t, because when I introduced myself and told him I had a cable TV show in LA that I would love to have him on, we exchanged info and dang me if about six months later he wrote to say he would be in town and would love to be on my show. Really didn’t think I’d hear from him.
It was the biggest hassle I ever had to get him the drum kit he required. I mean, Bill Bruford — on tour he had an entire semi just for his drums. He only played them a little on my show and it was mesmerizing, but his remembrances were really fascinating, especially about the very competitive music scene in London in the mid-’60s. I learned that many of the rockers who became famous were jazz players by training or at heart, as was he, Charlie Watts, Ginger Baker.
The one thing he said I will always remember: “The most important thing then was that you had to be different. You couldn’t sound at all like any other band. It made for some pretty interesting sounds.” And the rest is history, that we all love to listen to.
Charles Andrews has listened to a lot of music of all kinds, including more than 2,000 live shows. He has lived in Santa Monica for 33 years and wouldn’t live anywhere else in the world. Really. Send love and/or rebuke to him at email@example.com