A collection of matchbooks. Courtesy photo.

MUSIC MEMORY MATCHING TIME

I told you how a few weeks ago I went through an unexpected trove of music memories: my large collection of matchbooks, from so many nights out reveling in live music. Remember live music? It’s getting harder to, with each passing week.

Everything has changed. I have had to forego one of my favorite pronouncements from this time of year. A week from this Sunday morning, Nov. 1, 2 a.m., our clocks will fall back again to signal the end of Daylight Savings Time for another year. Did you know Daylight Savings Time wasn’t invented for US farmers, but for the German and Austrian armies during World War I, who wanted more daylight for fighting?

I always used to look forward to that yearly “fall back” event and pronounced it “the best club night all year,” because it was the one night you could stay out at your favorite live music venue for an extra hour. Maybe hear another whole set.

JUST WHAT IS UP

With the whole club closing time anyway? Ever since I moved to California in 1980, I could never understand it. It’s L.A.! All this great live music, then at 2 a.m., boom, where’s Cinderella? They shoo you out the door into the cold, silent night, just when the band is getting into it and you almost have that hottie convinced to share the sunrise with you. They don’t do that in New York (4 a.m.), or Alaska (5 a.m.), or Nevada where it’s 24/7.

It’s state by state and CA had bills passed in both 2017 and ‘18 to extend it to 4 a.m., and Jerry “You Used to be Fun but Now You’re Just a Crabby Old Man” Brown vetoed them. You SHOULD have to squint into the rising sun as you carefully drive home to nurse your good memories.

L.A. WEEKLY

I always thought my memory jogger for a novel could be some old issues of the LA Weekly I have around, with ads and listings every week for dang near every club in town. I handled all the club advertising there from ‘81 through ‘84. Great gig/horrible gig. But these matchbooks could be the memory spark too. After all, those matchbooks were right there, on the bar, those fabulous nights. They have soaked in the mojo.

So let’s dredge up a couple more and see if I can remember some of the fun I had. Chances are, if you are of a certain age, you might have been there that night at the next table.

VINE STREET BAR & GRILL

It was such a class act, in the middle of a Hollywood gone to seed. But walk into the Vine Street and you were transported, an oasis of muted elegance, an intimate room with only 15 tables, red booths with pink tablecloths surrounded by gray walls, a bar seating another 30 and the best jazz around, with an emphasis on vocalists.

Big Joe Turner played there regularly the last two years of his life, and Anita O’Day, Joe Williams, Marlena Shaw, Mose Alison, Cab Calloway, George Shearing, Dave Frishberg, Woody Herman, Dizzy Gillespie, Poncho Sanchez, and of course, the immensely talented and exquisitely beautiful Diane Michelle.

She played there a few times but her show in April of 1985 was perhaps the most memorable performance of her life. Before a packed room, she accepted a birthday cake after the first set, and a card, presented by 15-year-old Christopher Andrews. When she put aside the card for the moment I insisted she open it, and when she did (I like to say it was the only moment I have ever seen her at a loss for words), a diamond engagement ring on a string dropped down from a card that read, of course, Will You Marry Me?

Finally someone yelled out, “Well, what’s your answer?” Reeling a bit from the surprise, she finally found the right word, and we will be celebrating our 35th wedding anniversary this Monday. Her father, ever the supportive showman himself, blurted out, “You should have told them you’ll give your answer after the second show!”

EL CID

Who can forget their first time there, coming to what you thought was the front door, on Sunset near Silverlake, but no building in front of you, you have to tromp down stairs to the club level below. It was known as a flamenco showroom but they hosted all sorts of music and what I most remember it for was as one of the homes of Ronnie Mack’s Barn Dance, the 25-year monthly gathering of LA’s country crowd, a community scene but also reliable for consistently outstanding performances. Mack MC’d and he’d have anywhere from five to ten bands booked and if you weren’t crazy about who was on stage, grab another drink, chat up some friends from all over SoCal and chances are the next act would knock your socks off. Celebrity sit-ins like Bruce and Screamin’ Jay Hawkins. Is that Jerry Lee sitting at the bar?Good people, good music, good times.

THE ROXBURY

I wrote about it a month ago but couldn’t find the matchbook — hey, there’s 1000 of them and they ain’t alphabetized, OK? — so go back and read, or watch “A Night at the Roxbury,” and here’s the very hard to obtain matchbook, your choice of gold or silver.

THE PLAYBOY CLUB

In ‘72 Hef fled the Sunset Strip for a space in Century City under the Shubert Theatre. I had no interest in going there, only went once but I’ll never forget it. Word of mouth said Prince was going to perform so I took a chance and used my connections. (I was not a keyholder.) Three hours later, after midnight, I was beginning to wonder, but finally he emerged and did a three-hour show with full band, dancers and costume changes, just a few feet from me. I swooned for his guitar wizardry and my wife enjoyed his butt-baring chaps. One for the books.

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