And it’s getting very busy but don’t forget to treat yourself. Still lots going on. Be your own Santa.


TONIGHT! — 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, Fri 9 p.m., Teragram Ballroom, DTLA, $38-$100 (listed as sold out, but, you know, you’ll have to go there and beg, which you should for this show).


TONIGHT! — BENJAMIN SHEPHERD TRIO (can the dude who slapped bass for Soundgarden for 30 years jump to jazz? — probably not, and this isn’t THAT Benjamin Shepherd, but this one did recruit pianist John Beasley and drummer Joe LaBarbera for his trio, two very bright lights in the jazz world, so this is still a show worth seeing even if they definitely won’t be doing “Black Hole Sun”), Thurs 8, 9:30 p.m., Sam First, $15-$20.

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.

BILL CUNLIFFE (X-mas CD Release Party, I don’t care about that but I do care that Cunliffe, Grammy winner and a master of the keys, pianist and arranger with the Buddy Rich Big Band and worked with Sinatra, Joe Henderson, Freddie Hubbard, Benny Golson, has a drop-dead crew behind him in the great Ralph Moore on sax, bassist Dave Robaire and Marvin “Smitty” Smith on drums, they could be playing nursery rhymes, it would be inspired), Fri, Sat 8, 930 p.m., Sam First, LAX, $15-$20.

KIRK FLETCHER Birthday Bash (the man can play guitar, specifically blues guitar, you don’t get asked to join the Fabulous Thunderbirds and stick for four years unless… you’re fabulous), Sat 9 p.m., Harvelle’s, DTSM, $12.

JAZZ BAKERY presents GRETCHEN PARLATO QUARTET (look, I get around pretty good but I can’t have already heard everyone who rolls through town so I’ve developed some tricks for judging and one is the past record of the venue or booking agent, and as Jazz Bakery founder and longtime stellar jazz vocalist Ruth Price reminded the audience beginning to file out after last week’s great performance by the Four Hands group, “I’ve got a great vocalist coming in tomorrow night, Tessa Souter, who you’ve probably never heard of but by now you should have learned to trust me, she’s great!” and I didn’t recommend that show and I didn’t go but I realize now, again, that Ruth’s right, so you’d better go catch this one, with her interesting guitar-cello-percussion backup, also listening to Herbie Hancock who called her “a singer with a deep, almost magical connection to the music,” and to Wayne Shorter who boldly declared, “In an inconspicuous way, Gretchen Parlato knows how to play the same instrument that Frank Sinatra played. There’s no one out there like Gretchen.”), Sat 8 p.m., The Jazz Bakery, Moss Theater, New Roads School, SM, $25-$35.

LOS ANGELES MASTER CHORALE sings HANDEL’S MESSIAH (I know, you’ve been waiting all year for this — pretty much, you have to, and what better pipes to handle it than these — there, now you’re in the Christmas spirit, yes?), Sat 8 p.m., Walt Disney Concert Hall, DTLA, $39-$169.

HOT CLUB OF LA (if Django was still alive, he would sit in with these guys, and have to hustle to keep up, they really are good, they’re there at the tiny funky cool Cinema Bar every Monday night for years and there’s no cover so… get going!), Mon 9 p.m., The Cinema Bar, Culver City, free.

FAMILY JAZZ SERVICE (Sunset Park’s Mt. Olive Lutheran Church has a musical soul, with jazz concerts every second Sunday of the month, the LA Metropolitan Opera has performed there, so if you want to jazz up your holiday music this Christmas Eve, you know where to go, good God!, and they also have a First Friday Music and Lunch-In), Tues 5:30 p.m., Mt. Olive, Sunset Park, SM, free.

COMING ATTRACTIONS: LOS LOBOS, 12/27 The Canyon Agoura Hills, 12/28 The Canyon Santa Clarita, 12/29 The Rose, Pasadena, 12/31 The Canyon Montclair; ENGLISH BEAT, 12/27, 29 Saint Rocke, Hermosa Beach, 12/31 The Coach House, San Juan Capistrano; YOUNG DUBLINERS, 12/28. Harvelles, DTSM; THE WORL IS MY HOME – THE LIFE OF PAUL ROBESON, 12/29, Santa Monica Playhouse; 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, LAURIE ANDERSON & CHRISTIAN MCBRIDE, 1/21 – 2020, BEETHOVEN with EMANUEL AX, 1/24, 25, 26 – 2020, Disney Hall, DTLA; BARBARA MORRISON, 1/7, 14, 21, 28 – 2020, Pip’s on La Brea; LIBRARY GIRL – Tribute to BILLIE HOLIDAY, 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; LED ZEPAGAIN, 1/11 – 2020, Harvelle’s; STANLEY CLARKE BAND and LYRIS QUARTET, 1/18 – 2020, Broad Stage, SM; LA OPERA – EURYDICE, 2/1-23 – 2020, Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, DTLA; JACARANDA – PAX AMERICANA I & II, 2/2 – 2020, First Presbyterian Church of Santa Monica, DTSM; MAVIS STAPLES, 2/13 – 2020, The Soraya, CSUN.

BODACIOUS BIRTHDAYS: ÉDITH PIAF [E Giovanna Gassion] – The Little Sparrow, IS Paris (1915, d. 1963); PROFESSOR LONGHAIR [Henry Roeland Byrd] – revered New Orleans singer-pianist, there’s a statue of him reigning over Tipitina’s (1918, d. 1980); PHIL OCHS – anti-war folk singer (Joe Hill, War is Over), his brother Michael lives in Venice, accumulated the most extensive collection of musician photos ever, I believe sold to The Getty a few years ago (1940, d. 1976); ALVIN LEE – 10 Years After guitar slinger extraordinaire, this one’s for you, William Black, HB (1944, d. 2013); and two Irishmen named Andrews, chemist-physicist Thomas (1813) and television presenter Eamonn (1922), both fine fellows, no doubt.

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 therealmrmusic@gmail.com

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