It’s a tough time to be writing about live music shows in Los Angeles. Courtesy photo

WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO NOTEWORTHY?!

We all have seen what the rules, both governmental and common sense, for dealing with this pandemic have wrought in our individual lives. It started for me as drips of restrictions on live shows, lots of uncertainty, then sped like Usain Bolt toward an unavoidable finish line. Near zero tolerance, very few exceptions.

Of course the first, foremost concern is for people’s health. Too many people have already died and we’re only at the beginning. But even for those who stay healthy, there’s not a person who hasn’t been affected, some much more than others. Many have lost their jobs, many have seen their businesses shut down, some are less affected because they work from home, like me. But, you may be working from home for a business or entire industry that has ground to a halt.

Students have seen their schools shut down as tests loom, high school and college hoops players, especially seniors, have seen their tournament hopes of a lifetime vanish. March Madness is, was, my favorite time of all. Better than Christmas. And I waited all these painful years to see a Laker team capable of greatness again and a championship, and … poof.

For my NOTEWORTHY column, I watched the venues which host the performances I report on fall like dominoes. From the mighty, like the LA Philharmonic, to the modest, like our own Harvelle’s in downtown Santa Monica. Some came out early with a total (if temporary) halt, others kept at it a week or more, with increasing safety measures that seemed increasingly futile. A couple held on by their fingernails till the last moment possible — jazz club Sam First had the great Gerald Clayton playing solo piano on their last night, our precious Jacaranda classical music series almost got their last show in, and Harvelle’s got in one last Toledo extravaganza. But it didn’t take long for me to see the writing on the wall, and wonder where my writing about music would go. I got nuthin’!

THE BACKGROUND

After writing about music professionally since college, I “retired” from it when I took a year’s trip by VW van across Europe and North Africa, 7/11/11 to 6/12/12, with my wife and daughter. I felt I’d said it all about music and wanted to write about the rest of life, so I started sending back missives about that journey to the Daily Press and they appeared as my “Three Innocents Abroad” columns, a near-copy of the title of the European travel journal of my favorite writer, Mark Twain. That evolved into CURIOUS CITY when I returned.

But of course I couldn’t help but throw some music commentary into CURIOUS CITY sometimes, and it seemed whenever I did I always got people who wrote me or came up in person to say, I love it when you write about music! More, please!

From my college days at UNM I was motivated to write about it because I was always having discussions, sometimes fervent, always heartfelt, about music, and I figured if I’m in print I can get my ideas across to thousands, not just the person in front of me. I also took on a show on our campus radio station, which reached the whole city. I was always driven by wanting to share with others what I thought was really good, even transcendent, music that they might not have otherwise discovered.

Thus was NOTEWORTHY born. With anecdotes from my life in music, noteworthy song lyrics, album and concert reviews, musicians’ birthdays, clever and/or inspirational quotes from artists, and branching out to all the arts, as I did back in my college newspaper days, touching on theater, art, spoken word, film.

All things evolve and in the last year it became solely my list of must-see shows for the coming week, with a few lines of background to convince you. Then I added coming attractions, to mark on the calendar. I kept digging deeper and deeper for sources, I enlisted my daughter Nicole to give her mid-20s perspective, and the column grew from 800 words to 1200 or more, which the Daily Press generously always printed, jumping to a back page. My SMDP handlers and the readers all seemed to agree that it was a useful guide to everything from opera to poetry readings to reggae, and an interesting read even if you didn’t hit any of the shows.

SO NOW, A BLANK SLATE

Always an opportunity, of course, but also intimidating and challenging.

There are a lot of possibilities. I could write about the best shows I’ve seen in the past year. Could conjure up What (or Who) I’ll Be Missing during this quiet time. I could do reflections on venues, shows, music, artists who have moved me. (Actually, all those good suggestions came from one friend.) And I have just started to do a podcast through the Daily Press, which could be fun.

Life is great, isn’t it? Even when it sucks big time. Always an opportunity. What’s behind that door? Stay tuned.

NICOLE IS NOT STANDING STILL

She told me she joined a bunch of friends for a Facetime karaoke session a few nights ago and it was a blast. Couldn’t we all benefit from becoming explorers outside our boxes, miners of the silver linings? Music is all around, you know.

NICOLE RECOMMENDS:

QUARANTINE CONCERT — Strange times call for strange recommendations. The monthly music + art pop-up known as Treehouse has come up with a way to keep the music going amidst COVID-19 shutdowns. The rules are simple: anyone can make a video of themselves playing a song, upload it with the hashtag #quarantineconcert, and tag two more musicians to keep the chain going, and anyone can watch these by searching the hashtag on Instagram, or by visiting https://www.instagram.com/explore/tags/quarantineconcert) — Anytime, anywhere.

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 34 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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