I am writing this on Veteran’s Day, and as a vet I’m in pretty good company musically.

JERRY GARCIA (stole his mother’s car, chose military over prison), JIMI (after being caught twice in stolen cars was given same choice, went 101st Airborne Rangers, Screamin’ Eagles, broke ankle on last jump, poor marksman, undisciplined, annoyed others with constant guitar strumming), BILLY COX (met Jimi at Ft. Campbell, KY, jammed in nearby Nashville, later became his Band of Gypsys bassist), ELVIS (drafted at the height of his career, refused a cushy assignment and drove a tank, his Army enlistment and Army haircut were international news), WILLIE (enlisted Air Force at 17), B.B KING (mostly drove a tractor at a plantation growing cotton for the military, now that’s the blues).

JOHNNY CASH (Air Force in Germany during Cold War, Morse code interceptor of Soviet transmissions, was the first westerner to learn of Joseph Stalin’s death, bought his first guitar from his military paycheck), JOHN FOGERTY, JOHN COLTRANE (enlisted in the Navy on the day we dropped an atom bomb on Hiroshima, made his first recording with the Melody Masters, a Navy base swing band), HOWLIN’ WOLF, ICE-T (dealing drugs when daughter was born, knew he needed a big change, enlisted Army, like many honed his music talents while serving), KRIS KRISTOFFERSON (Rhodes Scholar became a Ranger, helicopter pilot, rose to Captain, father was an Air Force General, was offered a teaching position at West Point, turned it down, left active duty and joined TN National Guard, stole a helicopter and landed it on Johnny Cash’s lawn, good career move).

GEORGE JONES (Marine, Korean War), GEORGE STRAIT (still a teen, eloped with his HS sweetheart and joined the Army), JAMEY JOHNSON (dropped out of college to join Marines, served eight years, only made Corporal so must not have been a lifer), RAY MANZAREK (Doors co-founder, keyboardist served in Thailand), JASON EVERMAN (2nd guitar in Nirvana, bass for Soundgarden, kicked out of both then enrolled in Special Forces, Green Beret, Ranger, served with distinction in Aghanistan, Iraq), TONY BENNETT (saw WWII front line combat in Germany, narrowly escaped death several times, participated in the liberation of a Nazi concentration camp), HARRY BELAFONTE, GENE AUTRY (WWII Army flight officer), LOU RAWLS.

Now that would make a pretty good band, though it’s loaded with legendary singers and guitarists. We need a drummer! For lyrics we could enlist KURT VONNEGUT or ROD SERLING (airborne, WWII Army demolition specialist, purple heart, bronze star).


A Veteran’s Day salute to DENNY’S, who treat vets to a Build-Your-Own Grand Slam breakfast — too bad they got developer-chased out of SM — to EL TORITO, who loads you up with a seductive array of enchiladas, chile rellenos, tacos and more, and CALIFORNIA PIZZA KITCHEN who not only gives vets a wide choice of complementary pizzas, salads and pastas, but smiles all around and “thanks for your service,” from at least three who worked there. It seemed heartfelt and not just a result of “training.” I also got that and a huge smile and hearty handshake at El Torito.

It is gratifying to be acknowledged for something important you did, very reluctantly, that a lot of other people also did, quietly, more than 50 years ago. Props to the businesses who do, and I don’t mean to sound ungrateful but — the vets who really need a good free meal are the ones who are on our streets. Our national shame. Some of them took bullets and bombs so we could all go about the rest of our lives in peace and freedom. Shameful.


TONIGHT! — JULIA MIGENES (takes us back to the Paris of Piaf and Picasso, Django and Hemingway, an evening of personal stories from her amazing long career and nostalgic French chansons by Aznavour, Ferre, Brel, Legrand, music does elicit the entire spectrum of human emotion and in this show she magically transports us to the romantic Paris that no longer exists, but in those songs always will, at The Odyssey exclusively), Thurs-Sat-next Thurs 8 p.m., Odyssey Theatre, WLA, $40.

TONIGHT! — SOUTHSIDE SLIM (I’ve heard him a couple of times but had to go all the way to Roscoe’s Chicken & Waffles in Long Beach for his weekly Friday night blues jam so Harvelle’s is just a little more convenient, great blues and outstanding players all around), Thurs 9 p.m., Harvelle’s, DTSM, $7.

TONIGHT! – 1984 (how memorable does this sound? stage adaptation of the chilling George Orwell novel, now with Tim Robbins not only directing but in the lead role of O’Brien), Thurs, Fri, Sat, next Thurs, 8 p.m., The Actors’ Gang Theater, Culver City, $20-$35, Thursdays “Pay What You Can,” must sign up by 7:30.

ENDS TONIGHT! — LINDA RONSTADT: THE SOUND OF MY VOICE (this music doc will perhaps open your eyes to more respect for a woman who blazed early trails in male-dominated rock, advocated for human rights, shared a mattress on the floor of the Governor’s Mansion with Jerry Brown, lived life and her art on her own terms and succeeded wildly, and as Dolly Parton declares, “that girl could sing ANYthang!”), Thurs-next Thurs, Royal Theater, WLA.

MAGIC FLUTE – LA OPERA (it’s the most popular, most performed opera there is, LA Opera is staging it in a pretty radical way that I think Amadeus would love so I can’t wait to see it and I’ll tell you more after I do but only six performances so don’t dawdle!), Sat, next Thurs 7:30 p.m., Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, DTLA, $44-$309.

MELISSA ETHERIDGE (great performer, singer, songwriter doing material from a 30-year career and her brand new album The Medicine Show, and in the comfort and perfect acoustics of Disney), Sat 8 p.m., Walt Disney Concert Hall, DTLA, $57-$104.

THE VERDI CHORUS (haven’t caught this big vocal ensemble since they wedged their tunes in between the salad and the pasta 36 years ago right here in SM at the old Verdi Ristoranti di Musica, but they were really good then and they’ve been practicing decades more so just imagine, that many beautiful, trained voices wailing Verdi, “Sound and Fury,” and they have a famous guest star, dramatic baritone Malcolm MacKenzie), Sat 8 p.m., Sun 2 p.m., First United Methodist Church, SM, $10-$40.

GHOSTLAND OBSERVATORY (OK so I’m obsessive about music but have learned to trust my instincts and even though it was a dozen years ago that I was completely knocked out by this unusual, charismatic duo at Austin City Limits music fest, their stage had a crowd of about 10,000, then I finally caught them in LA a few years ago and they were … flat and disappointing but I still think you and I should catch this show, could be epic), Sunday 8 p.m., Regent Theater, DTLA, $28.

COMING ATTRACTIONS: LA CHAMBER ORCHESTRA, Handel’s Water Music, 11/21, First Presbyterian Church, DTSM; JACK SHELDON Big Band, 11/29-30, Catalina Bar & Grill, Hwd; LA PHIL, DUDAMEL Conducts RACHMANINOFF, STRAVINSKY, 11/30 12/1, BEETHOVEN’s “Eroica” 12/6-7-8, Disney Hall, DTLA; BILL FRISELL & JULIAN LAGE DUO, 12/5, Royce Hall, UCLA; SNOOP DOGG, I Wanna Thank Me Tour, with Warren G, 12/5, Wiltern, LA; X, LOS STRAITJACKETS, 12/19-20, Teragram Ballroom, DTLA.

BODACIOUS BIRTHDAYS: AARON COPLAND – Amerixcan composer, “Appalachian Spring,” “Billy the Kid” (1900), WALTER/WENDY CARLOS – American composer, “Switched on Bach” (1939); JOSEPH “RUN” SIMMONS – Run DMC (1964); NARCISO YEPES – Spanish guitarist (1927); CLAUDE MONET (1840); PRINCE CHARLES – the other one… I was here first (1948); SEN. JOE MCCARTHY – notorious ‘50s HUAC Red-baiter tied to Trump through their lawyer and muse, the despicable Roy Cohn, the Unholy Trinity (1909).

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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