File photo

THE DEATH OF NOTEWORTHY

And the resurrection. (It would seem my Catholic upbringing is coming back to inspire/haunt me — see Jesus in yesterday’s CURIOUS CITY column.)

First, the birth of NOTEWORTHY.

I credit you, dear readers, and our illustrious, wise part-owner of the Santa Monica Daily Press, Todd James.

Every time I would throw something about music into my CURIOUS CITY column, I would hear from people that I should do it much more often.

“I just LOVE it when you write about music!” Well, I always say, everybody likes some kind of music. (Hmmm… now that I think about it, there might be one person on earth who does not.) And so, like Michael Corleone, after walking away in 2011 from a lifetime of music journalism when I took a year-long trip through Europe and North Africa with my family, I gave in to the entreaties of readers and began writing NOTEWORTHY almost three years ago. “Just when I thought I was out… they PULL me back in.”

There has also been the encouragement of Mr. James, a man of great general and journalistic knowledge, insight and integrity. “I really like your NOTEWORTHY column,” he told me, in a chat we had not long after he came aboard as a new owner. I felt good. For a moment. “… I like it a lot more than CURIOUS CITY.”

WAAAIT A MINUTE…

But that’s a lot better than what was offered by a former publisher of this paper, as we were chatting in a bar on the Pier before the start of one of the famous summer concerts — remember those? oh boo hoo hoo! — who told me, “I will always defend your right to publish your opinions… but I don’t think I have agreed with a single column you’ve ever written.” And then he bought me a drink. And then he quit, and I’m still here.

Of course, when someone disagrees with something in NOTEWORTHY it usually turns into a lively and friendly discussion of music, and more interest in the column. When someone disagrees with a CURIOUS CITY, Todd is more likely to get a letter from a lawyer, threats of withdrawn advertising and nasty words about what kind of newspaper could even print that garbage/nonsense/socialist propaganda. I do understand.

So what about THE DEATH OF NOTEWORTHY?

That happened the week of March 12. Almost overnight.

It had evolved into a weekly recommendation list of don’t-miss live shows in town, with a few lines about why. It required hours and hours of research and revision but that format was very popular (Todd liked it too), and I was also pleased with it. The reason I first went into this line of insanity, in college, was to share with people great music that they might otherwise miss. You can always get the album but the live show is here and poof. This was the perfect platform, especially in a city like Los Angeles, oozing with extraordinary live music of every kind, often in unexpected places.

I can’t wait to get back to that, but I think we may be waiting years, not months, and then who knows what venues and artists will still be around? McCabe’s might turn into a deli, with Dave Alvin and Eliza Gilkyson slinging sausages, not guitars. (Not really. McCabe’s owns the building and it looks like they will be alright.)

IN MID-MARCH

Within a week, everyone started canceling shows because of the Trump virus. I mean, boom! March 12 I had a normal, full column of recommendations. By March 19, nada, zip, zilch, kaput, vamoose, headline: “Watching My Column Sink, So Fast.”

So I hastily resurrected NOTEWORTHY for its original intent, those stories and musings I have from a lifetime of listening.

I gave my daughter Nicole an opportunity to get her say in each week, and she enthusiastically took it on. NICOLE RECOMMENDS is missing this week because she asked for a break but she brings a valuable perspective and knowledge from a younger generation. Her mother and I took her to shows literally since in utero (a professional singer, Mom joined the choir at Agape Spiritual Center when it was meeting in the basement of the Miramar). Apparently it all took, because she graduated from UCLA with a degree in Ethnomusicology, and has been working in that field ever since.)

NEVER MADE “THE BIG TIME”

Which I hoped for, tried for, in moving from Albuquerque to L.A. I figured my entree was my writing, and see where that took me. I contacted L.A. Times Music Editor Robert Hillburn, sent him my best clippings, and received a response (probably all by letter!) that went something like this:

“Thank you for your interest in the L.A. Times. Your work seems good, but my situation is that I have six outstanding music journalists on staff, another two dozen excellent writers I occasionally use, a large go-to list after that and pretty much the rest of the world wanting to get into that que. If you want to keep trying please stay in touch, but I really can’t offer much hope.”

MAYBE IF I HAD BEEN A BULLDOG

I might have eventually succeeded, but I had come to town with an 11-year-old and about $1500. I wound up getting other print assignments and better-paying freelance work writing publicity for labels, and about a year later talked my way into the position of handling ads from nightclubs for the L.A. Weekly, and that immediately quintupled my income.

In addition, I gained entree to almost every club in town (the shows I saw!), and that was a dream come true. I was always amazed that club owners and bookers treated me so well, much better than when I was the journalist who had the power to either cover/publicize their shows or not. Anyone in that advertising sales position would place their ads, and there wasn’t much extra I could provide even if they offered me drugs and dames. Which they did, which I turned down. It was quite a menagerie, L.A. nightclub owners in the mid-’80s, Several of my clients wound up in prison, one for murder. I know. I really should write a book.

Charles Andrews has listened to a lot of music of all kinds, including more than 2,500 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