SO CLOSE I CAN ALMOST HEAR IT

Live music. My lifeblood. The passion I have been writing, talking, radio, television and podcasting (coming soon) about since college. I am an evangelist, for its uplifting, healing, soul satisfying qualities. Look out, I will drag you to a show you shouldn’t miss.

And now, for the first time ever, I, we, have all had to live without it for lo these 14 long, lackadaisical months. Might as well be in Taliban Afghanistan. Why did I not die, just wither away?

Because we humans can adjust to anything. It’s not like I got up every morning thinking about it, teardrops splashing into my coffee. I have tried to not think about it. No sense putting time, effort, heart and soul into things you know you cannot change.

IF THINGS GO WELL

It will return soon. But we have never known if it would go well. Still not certain. Could this turn into an endless cycle of spreading constantly, of new surges, new variations that vaccines can’t control? A dystopian, masked and distanced brave new world?

Especially since there are so many incredibly ignorant, self-consumed people, especially in this country, who believe in Q but not in science and believe that making small common-sense sacrifices, like wearing masks, temporarily, for the good of the whole, is the same as being, marched into a concentration camp. Exactly the same. (Some Republican Congress member said that.)

The ignorance now on display in this once-great country has been an appalling revelation, for the degree and the numbers. We now understand we have a lot more than just the worst pandemic in a century to worry about.

ALMOST 600,000 AMERICAN LIVES LOST

How can deniers block that out? Yeah, sorry. I know you read NOTEWORTHY to be entertained. But while the rules imposed in California seemed to have helped (we’re not FL or TX), and we have now moved up from dead last among states for vaccinations to 29th, we are ascending the tiers to “normalcy.” Right now, it looks good.

I reported in a previous NOTEWORTHY column that it was an encouraging sign that Pacific Opera Project (POP) was mounting in-person performances that weekend, for the first time in more than a year. Of course, their “Trouble in Tahiti” was done at Heritage Square Museum, on the lawn, with proper separation outdoors of non-family member attendees. Cast of only five. But they have optimistically scheduled “Don Procopio” (“It’s time to get Bizet again!”) for June 4-6.

I know, it’s not the same as wandering down to Harvelle’s on Fourth Street to catch some bangin’ blues band, or the Jazz Bakery for epic improv, McCabe’s for acoustic excellence or the Cinema Bar for cryin’ country music (they hope to reopen very soon), but I take the POP live shows as a good sign, a harbinger. It looks like we’ll make it.

BUT AT WHAT PRICE?

This has been so costly, so much more so because of the criminal mismanagement of the response by Trump, for artists, venues, and all associated. Some iconic and community-loved spaces have been shuttered for good. Never get them back. They died from COVID. Now more than ever before we must step up to support the remaining venues, and the performers. But how has it affected you personally, psychologically?

I think sometimes, for only a moment, about that first time I will be able to again see a band come on stage and hear and feel the first notes of the magic of music created before my very ears, filling all consciousness, erasing all troubles, worry and pain. Will it be grand and glorious, sending my soul to the rafters? Or just the comfortable experience of, oh yeah, back home again. Will it seem like it was never gone?

Of course I have still been listening to music at home, and you have too. I also have the advantage of a musical family whose harmonies are tighter than the Donald’s wallet. But I have avoided the streaming “live” performances. Just doesn’t make it for me. Like watching a video.

So whenever it happens, the cosmic shift back, the return of the joy of hearing and feeling music — amen, brothers and sisters. Do it. Just do it. I have come to value so much more that which I thought would always be there, then wasn’t.

But you, my dear friends in music, are invited, by me, by your human heart, your higher self, by the artist in you, to experience that great privilege. Maybe you decided long ago that going out for live music was too much hassle. Arrange your day’s schedule, drive somewhere, find parking, and squeeze in with dozens or hundreds of other smart, alive people. Too old for that.

I used to have a poster in my office, showing some happy 20-somethings in a club, that read, “If it’s too much trouble at 26 to go out for live music tonight, what will you do when you’re 76?” Well, I’m only two years away from that and I can’t imagine the loss if I didn’t have the last 50 years of music magic.

It was gone. It soon will be back. Go grab it.

ANOTHER OSCARS NOTE

I wrote about the failings of this year’s show last week but I left out an important faux pas. The In Memoriam segment of any major awards show is anticipated as a moment of reflection and respect. All the more relevant after a year of pandemic loss. But those who put this together for the Academy should be given three seconds to get out of town. It went by way too fast, leaving no time to reflect. You could barely read the name and glance at the photo, and it was gone. So different from every other year, and it didn’t have to be.

Not only that, some were given maybe 2.5 seconds, others half a second at most. The uneven times didn’t seem to reflect someone’s idea of “career worth” (I was looking for that); it was just ridiculously incompetent. On a three hour show, you couldn’t have rearranged to give another 3-4 minutes to this segment? Since it was done in pre-production, there is no excuse.

Charles Andrews has listened to a lot of music of all kinds, including more than 3,000 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