I got to hear live music!! A band, a good band, a mariachi band, and I didn’t have to venture out to see them, any further than my parking area.
My neighbors Colin and Jess were celebrating a friend’s birthday recently, and the mother of that friend hired the band. Allllllll-right! A five piece, including a female vocalist playing fiddle, guitarra and guitarron (also sang), and two horns, with one trumpeter just killing it. Dug his short solos, waited for them. From photos on the website, it looks like they switch around on instruments.
It was a nice little private concert scene out there, and a few lucky folks walking by at dusk stopped to enjoy. My wife made guacamole and passed it to the birthday crowd, and I quickly accepted the offer of a margarita from a new neighbor as I was hanging off a set of stairs, for isolation and a good view.
I have no idea how much that cool performance cost but you can find out, by calling Erwin Vasquez, Mariachi Teocuitatlan, (323) 506-5002.
WATCH “THE LAST WALTZ” — Alone or with just those in the household this Thanksgiving? Let The Band keep you company. There is no film quite like Martin Scorsese’s “The Last Waltz,” a concert film capturing Canadian-American rock group The Band’s farewell concert, filmed on Thanksgiving Day in 1976. It features very special performances by Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, Muddy Waters, Eric Clapton, Van Morrison, Dr. John and more. I was always bummed to be out of town when The Aero Theatre would show it around Thanksgiving, but since we’re all missing that this year I figured I might just pop in the tape and watch it myself.
CHARLES CHIMES IN: and lo and behold our own local Library Girl literary salon is also celebrating the work of this extraordinary ensemble at this very moment, with an online presentation of “Tears of Rage,” words and music inspired by the title of the first song on their first album, “Music from Big Pink.” (I wrote last week of how influential that album has been for me.)
Susan Hayden (with husband Steve Hochman, noted music critic) chooses a theme, always music-oriented, and then calls on a group of poets and other writers and performers to go from that prompt to wherever their imagination takes them. This particular show promises more music than usual along with the words (a big plus!), likely to be from The Band’s stellar repertoire. The unique monthly performance, now in its 12th year, is inspiring, thought provoking, often surprising, and not to be missed.
10 a.m. 11/24 to 7 p.m. 12/4, online at Library Girl.
A LAST WALTZ NOTE
A tale I read of the very famous concert related that there was a dispute over Dylan’s participation being filmed, because he had his own film about to be released, “Renaldo and Clara.” (Did not break any box office records, nor find a place in history and critical acclaim like “The Last Waltz.”) It wasn’t settled until a negotiation backstage during an intermission!
The Band’s Robbie Robertson later related, “Somebody working with Bob said ‘We’re not filming this.’ And (promoter) Bill (Graham) just said, ‘Get out of here, or I’ll kill you.’ It all worked out.”
Furthering the notion that rock and roll is not just a fun ride for the faint of heart, Scorsese said Dylan made the stipulation that only two of his songs could be filmed: “Baby Let Me Follow You Down” and “Forever Young.”
“When Dylan got on stage, the sound was so loud, I didn’t know what to shoot,” Scorsese later recalled. “Bill Graham was next to me shouting, ‘Shoot him! Shoot him! He comes from the same streets as you. Don’t let him push you around.’ Fortunately, we got our cues right and we shot the two songs that were used in the film.”
ESTONIA’S SINGING REVOLUTION
I love this true historical, political, impossible musical tale, of how little ol’ Estonia threw the Russian army out without a gunshot. Sang them out. I’ve told it before in this column so won’t again but here are a couple of links, the longer deep history dive (https://singingrevolution.com/about-the-history), with old maps and photos that I recommend, of course (– hey, life is for learning, always, right?) and the slightly shorter Wiki one (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Singing_Revolution), also good and seemingly accurate.
But to make it more human and personal, I asked my Estonian friend Leeni Laasfeld, vocalist, composer, musician and angel, who we met at the Hilton Hotel in Reykjavik, Iceland a few years back (she has lived there for years), to give a first hand account. (On a CA visit later she walked! from Beverly Hills, because she wanted to and could see more that way, and dropped into our backyard for a wonderful singalong.)
“Imagine: try to open your mouth and start singing next to a stranger but surprisingly that stranger happens to know that song and joins you! You are not strangers anymore: these are the moments when ‘you’ and ‘me’ disappears and your breathtakes become the breathtake of a bigger organism.
“Now imagine how big and powerful an organism is born out of 100 000 people’s united breathtakes. That creature fights for the wishes deep inside our hearts and is more powerful than anything that wants to step on our toes.
“This ‘anything’ doesn’t always have to be a foreign enemy: those enemies can also come in the form of stress, depression, greed, envy, lack of self – love, guilt, and the list of the things we as the members of a modern society suffer from goes on… Song Festival is a magic ritual that cleanses and enriches our souls with positivity. It’s hard to put that feeling into words but something so beautiful happens to your soul there.
“What I am also very happy about and proud of is that Estonians have managed to keep that tradition going and growing for so long. Here we are in the 21st century: we have the Internet, the world can notice our Laulupidu. Now, once a tradition that was mainly created to make Estonia stronger as a nation has really got the chance to inspire the whole world to explore the power of singing together. This could have so strong impact on absolutely any society. We are humans and what connects us is always stronger than what separates us. It’s time for the world to experience the magic we have already found in Estonia.”
Both Estonian and world citizen,
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 firstname.lastname@example.org