My Thursday music column, NOTEWORTHY, has been taken over each week with listing the really good performances hereabouts, so that you don’t miss out on something you wish you hadn’t. Not much room for music stories there anymore.

So now in CURIOUS CITY today I must do some frustrated scolding, but followed with another local music story that is nothing but good vibrations.


That there are many things to do on a Saturday night. That many are not in the habit of going to concerts, and consider it an effort. (Going to Hollywood Bowl is a huge effort and a lot of time, going to the Moss Theater on Olympic is not, and they even have free parking.)

That many do not have the budget for $35 tickets, times two or more, very often. (But that’s a pretty low price these days.) That unless you are a fan of a particular artist, you might not want to take a chance on someone you don’t know much about. (That could easily be a big mistake.)

Any live art creation is a gamble, but if you bet on Dolly, Streisand or Jeff Beck, or Bowie, Bob or Merle back in the day, you are probably going to come out grinnin’.


And more, are precisely why I write NOTEWORTHY (100 of them so far), so that you don’t miss someone like jazz legend Charles McPherson, who blew bebop alto sax and blew minds at his Jazz Bakery performance at Moss Saturday evening. The small, acoustically wonderful theater, 350 seats, was only about half full. What is wrong with you, people?! Please tell me what you were doing that night that was better.

He’s 80 but probably as good as he ever has been, maybe better. He is still working on his art, he does not rest on his considerable laurels.

I can tell you he recorded and toured with the incomparable (and notoriously demanding) Charles Mingus for 14 years, sat in for Charlie Parker in the film “Bird,” and blah blah blah, and maybe I should have told you more than “don’t miss this one, in your own backyard.” But the legends, in any genre, are rare birds, and if you wait they will be gone. Will McPherson still be touring at 90?


of all kinds, including more than 2,000 live shows” (probably 2500 by now). This Charles McPherson concert Saturday goes into the Top 25. Beyond McPherson’s performance, the other three band members, all unknowns to me, were each ridiculously talented. It was transcendent, every number. His “Nature Boy” may be the best I’ve ever heard, and his “Cherokee” ripped the roof off.

How could you have missed this?

I was part of a really interesting panel discussion Thursday at our Main Library, about “Music on the Westside,” all aspects. There was talk of a need for more venues here, especially for up-and-coming artists, and I agreed but also pointed out the need to support the ones we already have, right here in SM, like McCabe’s, Harvelle’s, Jacaranda, the Jazz Bakery. Pulling out your credit card for a donation is great (do it!), but how about just going to worthwhile shows? Win, win. Booking great musicians, especially consistently, takes tremendous effort and skill.


David Leaf is a Santa Monica writer-producer-director known for documentaries, music programs, and pop culture retrospectives. He is an Adjunct Professor at UCLA’s Herb Alpert School of Music, and manages their Music Industry minor Intern Program. He says “if I’m passionate about an artist, I want to know everything” and that certainly applies to Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys — he’s probably THE authority. But he’s not a “history professor,” and he uses his music knowledge to prepare his students for real-world challenges in the music industry.

He also is a longtime good friend of Brian Wilson, one of the towering if troubled figures of 20th Century music and pop culture. Would there be The California Dream known worldwide without his Beach Boys? Doubtful. Leaf was the first to write a credible book about that, in 1978, “The Beach Boys and the California Myth.” (Out of print for years, if you can find it, even in paperback, grab a Franklin or two.) I promise, in another column I will tell you the cool, unique story of how David, Brian and I met, more than 30 years ago.

This last weekend I got an announcement from Leaf that he has endowed the “Brian Wilson Scholarship for Composition, Arrangement and Production of Popular Music,” with the first recipient already selected, student composer David Ghesser. “Contributions are very much welcomed,” said Leaf. Dollar levels of donation are cleverly assigned BB song titles (“Don’t Worry Baby”), but “any contribution is generous,” he said.

“It gives me great satisfaction to know that each year,” Leaf wrote, “a student musician will delve even more deeply into Brian’s one-of-a-kind body of work and carry his legacy with them throughout their career.”

Now, lest you think that’s a bit puffed up for songs about surfing, cars and CA girls, you don’t understand what nearly every musician on the planet knows. I didn’t quite, either, in’88, but as promised, I will tell you later.

Charles Andrews 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 therealmrmusic@gmail.com

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