John Mceuen: JOHN McEUEN & The String Wizards will perform this weekend.


Just an explanation. That I still can’t do for you what I have been doing for almost two years with this column, which is to recommend the live music shows (and occasional theater etc.) that I do not want you to miss, based on my experience and knowledge. Because the almighty LA Weekly music calendar that I depended on was recently “redesigned” and now it is useless. Useless. If anyone knows of a comprehensive source for that info please let me know, because I haven’t found one. Thanks. Sorry. Grrr.


“DEATH OF A SALESMAN” by ARTHUR MILLER starring Rob Morrow (Pulitzer- and Tony-winning play from 1949, this group of actors gives this very challenging material all it deserves, Morrow is nuanced and riveting but so is everyone else, I noted my surprise after a preview performance that it didn’t get a standing O but my wife observed, I think correctly, that everyone was just stunned, our own Sarah Spitz did an interview with Morrow for her Culturewatch column last Thursday and there was a piece in the LA Times yesterday about Morrow), Fri-Sat 8 p.m., Sun 2 p.m., Ruskin Group Theatre, SM Airport, $20-$35.


TONIGHT! — “THE QUIET ONE” (hurry! ends tonight! a fascinating character study of original Rolling Stones bass player Bill Wyman and his career/life insights as thoroughly documented through his incredible archives, never made available until five years ago), Thurs, Nuart Theater, West LA, $9-$12;

“ECHO IN THE CANYON” (don’t know if it ends tonight, another first-persons account of rock and roll history, of the creative denizens of Laurel Canyon, but no “Lady of the Canyon” herself Joni Mitchell? — maybe she didn’t want to, knowing how much dishing would be put on film), Thurs, The Landmark, West LA, $12.

TONIGHT! + Fri, Sat — THE SWINGING AND GROOVING COLLECTIVE  (“embodies the spirit and the sound of the hard-bop era”), Thurs;    

MATT SLOCUM (the Minneapolis Star Tribune wrote, “Slocum has emerged as one of the great young jazz drummers in New York City, and therefore all of jazz, he clearly places empathy and ensemble eloquence over solo fireworks, with sublime results”), Fri;

ISAMU MCGREGOR TRIO (keyboardist McGregor delights in bridging the gap between acoustic jazz and electric fusion), Sat — all shows 8, 9:30 p.m. at Sam First, LAX, $10-$20.

A DARING DUO! (President Obama awarded percussionist and Ethnic Heritage Ensemble leader KAHIL EL’ZABAR the International Ambassador’s Award in the Arts, he and DAVID MURRAY founded the iconic World Saxophone Quartet, Murray’s “furious sax style has lyrical moments which carve out a space in the avant garde for tenderness and extend the language of bebop into more volatile territories,” three grammys between them!), Fri 8 p.m.;

ERIC ALEXANDER QUARTET (pretty much straight ahead jazz, “the group could be recommended on the strength of Alexander’s full-throated tenor sax alone, yet what ultimately stands out is the brand of unfettered swing that defines this band, Alexander has absolutely established his own voice within the bop based tradition,” praised, Sat 8 p.m.;

DWIGHT TRIBLE (“in tune with the Cosmos” is a good description for this dazzling jazz vocal innovator whose ensemble quintet uses kalimba, exotic flutes, woodwinds, congas, bongos, tabla, gongs, electronic live looping and more “to weave melody with pulses and soundscapes that can move an audience into new realms of musical and poetic spaces,” whew!), Sun 5 p.m., all shows at The Jazz Bakery, Moss Theater, New Roads School, SM, $25-$35. 

JOHN McEUEN & The String Wizards present “Will The Circle Be Unbroken” (you may quite rightly associate McEuen with The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band because he co-founded them in Long Beach when I was a freshman in college, yes, that damn long he’s been doin’ it, and was with them first for 20 years and later for 17, but John always surrounds himself with drop-jaw players and if he’s calling this group wizards, you’d best believe him, McCabe’s promises “an incredible evening of Dirt Band favorites and the presentation of the 2019 Topanga Legend Award to John“), Sat;

RAMBLIN’ JACK ELLIOTT (how does a nice Jewish boy from Brooklyn whose father wanted him to become a surgeon wind up running away with the rodeo at 15, becoming a student of Woody Guthrie, teaching his kid Arlo his father’s songs after Woody’s demise, having his nasal delivery copied by a young Bob Dylan, and at 87 be still ramblin’, lucky us, but this show is officially sold out so you’re going to have to show up and beg someone for a spare ticket, who knows?), Sun, both shows 8 p.m., McCabes, SM, $30.

“AN ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE” by HENRIK IBSEN (“Freely Adapted and Directed by Ellen Geer” but that’s a good thing, a very good thing, as the daughter of founder Will Geer has maintained a standard at this magical outdoor theater that has lasted 46 years), Sat 8 p.m., through Sept. 28, Will Geer’s Theatricum Botanicum, Topanga Canyon, $10-$42.

MEET ME AT REED (Santa Monica Taiko Drum Festival), Sat 5-7 p.m., Reed Park, SM, free.

BODACIOUS BIRTHDAYS: Last week on his birthday I promised you a tale about Beach Boy BRIAN WILSON (6/20/1942), so here ya go.

It started when I moved here from NM in 1980, with the determination to always live where the best schools were, for my son Chris, 11. That took us from Brentwood, to North Hollywood, to Beverly Hills. BHHS was then rated one of the top 10 high schools in the country, private or public. Turns out, he hated it. Not his tribe. But when he discovered the school’s radio station, he found his people. Other music fanatics who couldn’t care less about fast cars or fashions. He remained friends with that group through his whole life.

One friend, Randy Bookasta, started an alternative music magazine, while still in HS — Contrast. It lasted a few years and was well regarded, and one day in ‘88 Randy got a call from Warner Bros. Records, asking if he would like to have an exclusive interview with Brian Wilson, on the occasion of the release of the famous Beach Boy’s first solo album. “Hell yeah!” he responded immediately, then thought, as he hung up the phone, oh no, I don’t know squat about Brian Wilson! Who do I know who does? Oh yeah — Chris’s dad! Randy was among the friends who spent many happy hours at our place going through my massive LP collection.

I was, of course, delighted. This was only the second interview allowed, the first being for the NY Times magazine, by the incomparable biographer Timothy White. Warner Bros. wanted the world, and especially the kids, to know this was not the work of some fat old irrelevant Beach Boy, this was cutting edge post-modern music, and they felt Contrast was the vehicle to deliver that message.

Brian had been emotionally disturbed for more than 20 years, having suffered a series of nervous breakdowns when he was just 22. But he was the money machine supporting dozens of people, including family, and everyone tried to keep him going. He abandoned touring but kept writing, absolutely brilliant pop music. I had always read about the most respected musicians’ (including Leonard Bernstein) regard for his “genius” talent. I could never quite see the genius part. Surf and car songs? Until I did that piece.


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

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1 Comment

  1. The Matt Slocum Trio concert is at Sam First. You don’t have the venue information in that listing!!

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