LET’S GET RIGHT TO IT
X, LOS STRAITJACKETS (X is, IS, LA rock, going into their fifth decade with the original lineup and most of their energy intact, I always tell people you ain’t lived until you’ve seen X playing a hometown gig, Los Straitjackets have also been around forever and are my favorite instrumental band and favorite surf rock band because not only have they absorbed the style into their very DNA, they also elevate the genre, still performing anonymously in their Mexican wrestling masks), Thurs: Dec. 19 and Fri Dec. 20, 9 p.m., Teragram Ballroom, DTLA, $38-$100 (listed as sold out so you’ll have to go there and beg, which you should for this show).
TONIGHT! — THE MAGIC FLUTE – LA OPERA (the outrageous preview videos were entrancing and it turns out spot on but didn’t fully prepare me for what I saw, LA Opera staged this before, so did Berlin and it garnered the rave reviews it deserves, like nothing I’ve ever seen, Magic Flute the most popular opera there is but this staging with exploding brilliant backdrops of dizzying whirling Betty Boop meets steampunk with Buster Keaton, Nosferatu and animation surrounding the singers coming out of three levels onto small platforms, do not trip on those backstage stairs! – to sing while coordinating their movements with the visuals swirling around them, there were a few scattered moments when the visual chaos overpowered the pure opera, how can they even keep their minds focused, a visual-aural treat you must not miss, only two performances left), Thurs 7:30 p.m., Sun 2 p.m., Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, DTLA, $199-$399.
PACIFIC OPERA PROJECT presents LA BOHEME (aka “The Hipsters,” I usually make a face at that term but this production gets an upgrade to HIGHLY from last week’s sight-unheard RECOMMENDED because it is such fun, so well acted and sung and staged with great humor, the actors sing the original Italian lyrics but what you see on the translation screen often doesn’t exactly match — “let us go check out the food trucks on Figueroa,” “chill out, dude, don’t deflect” — Puccini’s 1830s Paris tale lands modernly in Highland Park, with current events and language inserted for laughs, their shows always sell out and these are the last two performances so best get busy if you want to see a Boheme you’ll never see again, but! also livestreaming Sat 8 p.m., Youtube and Facebook), Fri, Sat 8 p.m., Highland Park Ebell Club, $15-$30, tables $60-$180 include food, wine, cushioned seats.
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 — she debuted at The Met at 3 — 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, like, you will not get to see this show in NY, Paris or London, only WLA, ends Sat), Thurs, Sat 8 p.m., Odyssey Theatre, WLA, $40.
TONIGHT! — LA PHIL performs TCHAIKOVSKY & COPLAND with MTT (oh, okay, go ahead and write me nasty notes but I’m not all in on all Tchaikovsky, or Copland, but the former leads with one of the most famous openings in all music, and the Copland 3rd contains several pieces of his Theme for the Common Man, and who doesn’t want to see Michael Tilson Thomas swing a baton again on our stage so, okay, go), Thurs 8 p.m., Fri 11 a.m., plus one of them there rehearsals they let the well heeled-patrons sit in on, Thurs 10 a.m. for those LA Phil subscribers at Sonata Level and up, you know who you are, Disney Hall, DTLA, $69-$219.
TONIGHT! – B OB BAKER MARIONETTE THEATER (they’re back! aw, we’ve missed you guys but now they’re home again for one night, on the Pier at the Merry-Go-Round deck, for two holiday shows with classic songs of the season and Bob Baker favorites, bring the whole family for puppetry, singalongs and holiday cheer), Thurs 6 & 7 p.m., SM Pier, free.
SAMOHI CHOIRS Winter Concert (you should never miss anything Jeffe Huls’s talented, well-directed singers present, they are extraordinary, delivering at a very high professional level and the Winter Concert is maybe their best, Motus Perpetuus, perpetual motion, features all the choirs performing from around Barnum Hall, not just the stage but the aisles, balcony, rear of the theater, a live surround sound experience), Fri 7 p.m., Barnum Hall, SM, still free as far as I can tell but you should definitely feed the donation bucket.
TRACE BUNDY (OK I never do this but never say never, don’t know him at all but decided to watch parts of two videos and I think I have to recommend him, where are all these acoustic guitar wizards coming from?), Fri 8 p.m., McCabes. SM, $25.
BAD HABITS (haven’t seen it yet but when does the Ruskin Group do anything less than terrific and this is a family affair starring Orson Bean and wife Alley Mills of The Wonder Years and The Bold & the Beautiful, written by master Steve Mazur who gave us the unforgettable Sneaky Ole Time there, and it’s full of nuns, I just don’t think you can go wrong), Fri, Sat 8 p.m., Sun 2 p.m., Ruskin Group Theatre, SMO, $20-$35.
1984 (stage adaptation of the chilling George Orwell novel, returning from a world tour with Tim Robbins directing and in the role of Big Bro’s buddy O’Brien, tricky, daring, imaginative, excellent staging, adaptation from the novel by Michael Gene Sullivan, use of sound is really really good, innovative, Will Thomas McFadden’s Winston is a good mix of defiance and crushed spirit, listed as completely sold out but, you know, give it a shot, last three performances), Fri, Sat, Sun 8 p.m., The Actors’ Gang Theater, Culver City, $20-$35.
JAZZ BAKERY presents OPEN HANDS with PATRICE RUSHEN (definitely an all-star quartet also featuring Justo Almario on sax, bassist Abraham Laboriel and Bill Maxwell on drums, don’t miss this one), Sat 8 p.m., The Jazz Bakery, Moss Theater, New Roads School, SM, $25-$35.
SANTA MONICA SYMPHONY presents MAHLER’S 5TH (I love our 75-year-old symphony orchestra, such a source of local pride, gifting us six times a year with familiar and adventuresome works, always well-played, kudos to the organization, the musicians and especially to music director Guido Lamell and now we get Mahler, m’man, so gorgeous and emotional but not an easy play), Sat 7:30 p.m., Barnum Theater, Samohi, free.
LIQUID KITTY’S PUNK ROCK BBQ – Pre-Xmas Edition (can you drag your sorry behinds out of bed by one on a Sunday, well if you can you can have some good clean cheap fun at Harvelle’s as the boys from the gone but not forgotten Liquid Kitty bring their punk rock BBQ tradition to downton SM with free grilled dogs, cheap drinks, no cover and five bands, see website for band times but you’ll see/hear a parade of bands and various punk rockers with pedigree, a history that refuses to die), Sun 1 – 6 p.m., Harvelle’s, DTSM, free.
JACARANDA presents ORGANIC SERIES II (celebrate the season and the “new” kickass organ at the 1st Pres under the fleet fingers and toes of James Walker, including their co-commissioned David Lang composition for treble voice – Felicity Robles – and organ, some Bach, Ives, Gounod, I love sweet and powerful organ music). Sun 2 p.m., First Presbyterian Church, DTSM, $10-$25.
BARBARA MORRISON (it’s the fabulous blues-jazz voice of Barbara Morrison, at another venue you might pay $20-40 but the comfy confines of Pips are her sometime home, take advantage), Tues 7 p.mPips on La Brea, LA, free
COMING ATTRACTIONS: YOUNG DUBLINERS, 12/28. Harvelles, DTSM; MEHTA’S MAHLER, #2, “Resurrection,” 1/3, 4, 5 – 2020, M. CONDUCTS WAGNER, SCHOENBERG, WEBERN, 1/10, 11, 12 – 2020, JASON ISBELL acoustic, 1/10 – 2020, Disney Hall, DTLA; LIBRARY GIRL, 1/12 – 2020, Ruskin Group Theatre, SMO; JOACHIM COODER, 1/12 – 2020, DAVE ALVIN & FRIENDS: A Tribute to Chris Gaffney, 1/18 – 2020, ERIC ANDERSEN, SCARLET RIVERA, 1/25 – 2020, McCabe’s, SM.
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