Living Legend TOOTS in ICU. Courtesy photo.

MAKE MEMORIES WHEN YOU’RE YOUNG

(But don’t ever stop!)

You can savor them for the rest of your life.

I always thought that was a good approach to life. It’s not like you have to be focused on it, or impetuous or foolhardy. But if you have a choice and fear is holding you back — fear of failure, of what others might think, of unintended consequences — but you really want to do it — go for it. It’s highly unlikely you will get a second chance. If you pass, you will still have the memory for a lifetime, but it is one of regret.

I’ve been pretty good about that. I limited myself for the sake of my young son, born when I was only 22. I felt I had to make certain I was there for him, especially when his mother became mentally ill and he had only one functioning parent. So I never did skydive, or take acid, move to Morocco or high dive off a cliff somewhere; it was a loving, rewarding choice I made about which I have no regrets. But I didn’t retreat to a closet. I sucked in my share of high-octane pot and dragged Chris to an awesome Grateful Dead/New Riders concert when he was only two. (He fell asleep, in my arms.) Took him to a vanload of other concerts too (no, his hearing was not damaged), and we later took our nine-month-old daughter Nicole to Reggae Sunsplash in Jamaica, three loooong nights of music and days of adventure. Neither of them remembered it, but it altered their DNA, I’m sure, for the better.

When Chris was not yet three we headed of to Europe for a year, travelling by VW campervan, and after about two months of having to figure this new thing out, constant camping, he was all in, mixed beautifully with people from all over the world, and wound up with an amazing vocabulary for a three-year-old (only the adults he met spoke English, and most didn’t talk down to him). It was such an adventure it was repeated with Nicole, after Samohi graduation, and her mother.

LIKE A LOT OF YOU

I’m devoting some pandemic down time to cleaning out, going through old boxes. Except… my stack is pretty high. I wound up with a lot of mixed up content, 90 percent throw-aways but 10 percent precious. Somewhere in there are some of my music reviews and interviews from college days.

But last weekend I went through an unexpected trove of music memories: my large collection of matchbooks. (Remember matchbooks?) Hundreds. Maybe a thousand. Some just really cool ones from places we never went, but most of them with memories attached.

I should probably go through them again sometime and open up each matchbook, bound to be some surprises there, but that would’ve taken so much longer. For some reason I flipped open one from Club Lingerie, and there was owner Kurt Fisher’s name and phone number. The Lingerie was one of the greatest music clubs in the history of Los Angeles (depending on your perspective, of course). Probably number one in my book. It would take a book to tell you why but they had amazing acts of every sort of every genre, godlike veterans and tomorrow’s stars, and the crowds were too hip and musically knowledgeable, the waitresses legendary for their disdain and distinctive dress. Credit much to talent genius Brendan Mullen; if there was a bookers Hall of Fame, he might be the first entry. Kurt would agree, I’m sure.

OF COURSE YOU REMEMBER MARK’S

Just kidding, I’d be surprised if more than a handful did. (NOT St. Mark’s ion Windward n Venice.) I don’t think Mark’s was around for long. I remembered it as being in Echo Park or thereabouts, but the address said it was on far north La Cienega. It was a small room, simple but elegant, with a resident grand piano. One rainy night many years ago — no one in LA ventures out on a rainy night — my wife Diane, a jazz singer, and I would have driven through a hurricane to get to Mark’s, because the incredibly talented and special Nina Simone was performing, solo on piano. We had both been longtime huge fans, and never had another opportunity to see her perform. Good choice, to brave the downpour.

There may have been one or two other couples there. But it wasn’t well-promoted at all, and Mark’s was not well known. Of course it was musically, historically, aesthetically a landmark evening and now a precious memory, topped off by our boldly inviting her to sit at our table afterwards and have a drink. I can’t tell you what we talked about, I just remember sitting there pretty incredulous. Picking up that matchbook brought it all home like yesterday.

SIMPLY BLUES

Was a fantastic, always packed, restaurant and jazz club atop the 20-story Sunset Vine Tower in Hollywood, 360 degree views. The piano was in the middle and all the tables circled it. I found it because my future wife sang there frequently. It drew a musically sophisticated and demanding, nearly all African American clientele, so that very white (but very soulful) chick from Pedro considered it a compliment to be chosen to warble there. They had a lot of celebrity drop-ins but neither Diane nor I can remember any names, except one, Stevie Wonder. I was really disappointed I wasn’t there that night.

NICOLE RECOMMENDS:

BROWSE SANTA MONICA’S CONCERT HISTORY — The Concert Archives website is exactly what it sounds like: an ever-growing database of concerts from over 15,000 locations and counting. There are 13,989 concerts tagged for all of Los Angeles, and a sizable 157 for Santa Monica, dating all the way back to 1965. Depending on the concert, there may be information including lineup, setlist, details (date, venue), videos (less common), and photos (flyers or otherwise). There is also an option to listen to a Youtube or Spotify-generated playlist of the setlist (most likely all studio versions; if you want to get into the nitty gritty of recorded concerts you may need to pay a visit to the great and powerful Internet Archive– archive.org). Link to the Santa Monica-tagged Concert Archives page: https://www.concertarchives.org/locations/santa-monica-ca

Or, if you want to cut to the chase and watch a NOTEWORTHY-approved full length Santa Monica concert from back in the day, check out Toots & The Maytals performing at the Santa Monica Pier in 1997: https://tinyurl.com/TootsSM97. Toots was admitted to a private hospital in Kingston in critical condition sometime last week for reasons that have not yet been disclosed, so, now may be a good time to send some serious love and positivity his way.

Charles’s note: God bless Toots, one of the best singers ever, any genre, and I remember this great show! Anyone remember who opened up?

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