Music: EM the Master, at Harvelle’s, Tues. Photo courtesy of EM


Is it good to come out of this music desert we’ve endured slowly? Like someone fasting coming back to the table with a small bowl of broth and crackers, which at that point satisfies like beef bourguignon. (Well, um…)

Still waiting on the full buffet, back to the “normal” we perhaps did not fully appreciate before, but with this vicious virus mutating faster than David Bowie, and the de-evolving science-denying American freethinkers, there’s no predicting the future. Get it while you can, man.

This weekend — through next Tuesday — you can get it the same two places I alerted you to last week, but unless you jammed in every show, you can still rock this weekend. And swing all the way to next Thursday, with some good jazz.


WILL GEER’S THEATRICUM BOTANICUM has a shortened Shakespeare lineup this COVID summer-fall, only two, plus the moving, timely original, “THE LAST, BEST SMALL TOWN.” If the Shakespeares don’t make you think so much, perhaps because of their familiarity, their other choices always do, and usually (always?) have themes of social consciousness. (Which does not detract from the entertainment value.)

In the case of “Last, Best,” they take on, with outstanding ensemble acting, racism, small town life, economic disparity, stereotypes, youth rebellion, the value of education, family expectations and dynamics, East Coast/West Coast, rural/city, marriage, tradition — in other words, local playwright John Guerra, like the best, has a theme or two but manages to comment on the wide human condition. It plays this week on Sunday the15th, 7:30 p.m.

“JULIUS CAESAR” pops up on Saturday, Aug. 14, 7:30, and I’m hoping to check it out and report. Maybe in the Latin I learned in Catholic high school.

Dead language, my asinus. Uh, I mean, my pes. And besides, I can decipher all the Roman numeral dates on movies that flash too fast on the TV screen.

But seriously, even such a poor discipulus as I retained enough to find it a huge help in making an educated guess at any words in any Latin-based (Romance) language, and there are a lot of those. More than a billion people speak them.

“JC” is a bloody dose of political reality, true drama from Imperial Rome to Elizabethan England to Trump-traumatized America. Hardly a comedic romp like “A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM,” which was superbly presented, especially the inventive physical comedy that isn’t all written into the script.


Except for one thing. There was that elephant on the stage. It only dragged things down a little, for just a minute here and there, and I understand how it got there. TB has been doing “AMND” every season for 48 years, since day one, and of course they must always think, what can we do that’s a little different? A twist. Take a chance. Soo… they added some music, to be able to sing some of the rhyming lines. Shakespeare has so many rhyming couplets it’s almost like songs waiting to be sung instead of spoken.

But no! Caution e’er ye tread uncertain ground. Two problems with that.

The actors are not, as they are on Broadway, recruited for singing as well as acting talents. And several of the men, projecting and pronouncing the Bard’s timeless words perfectly, mumbled the singing parts with uncertainty and low volume.

Not a big deal, but it didn’t add anything. Perhaps they should have used music by Hildegard von Bingen, the amazing 12th century German Benedictine abbess for whom beautiful, timeless compositions were only one of her many talents. Were her tunes still on the Gregorian Chants charts 450 years later? Then, Shakespeare may have heard them, and might approve.

The distracting vocalizing of lines notwithstanding, this is one of the best “AMND” I can recall, and I’ve seen a few. The fairies were really, really good, and who could not be charmed by their little chirping sounds? Some of the physical comedy took me by surprise and made me laugh out loud. Please tell the actors we dug it, because it looked like they may have needed massage and physical therapy after each performance.


I wrote two weeks ago about how knocked out I was about the show put on by EM the Master, each Tuesday evening at 9. I haven’t seen a performer like that in years. Her original songs are excellent non-stop energy, the arrangements masterful, the band killer. She is a non-stop ball of frenetic but focused energy. And we have her here, in SM. Lucky us! Go. 10 bucks, 9 p.m., until she leaves for a bigger platform, and then you will whine, gee, I should have listened to Charles…

And you can go every Sunday to see and hear the inimitable Toledo Show. It’s OK if you’ve missed it the last 35 years, he’s better now than he ever was.


At LAX? You bet. Sam First. They book a lot of people who are probably great but I’m not familiar with them so I am not going to mislead you with a recommendation, but here’s what I know —

Any time you get a chance to hear GERALD CLAYTON caress the ivories, go. Solo, trio, big band. He will be at Sam First Friday and Saturday evenings with the Anthony Wildon Quartet, shows at 7 and 9, $25.


BOB BAKER MARIONETTE THEATER PRESENTS: HOLIDAY BROUHAHA AT FOREST LAWN — A musical revue and celebration of a years’ worth of holidays, packed into a 30-minute puppet-filled spectacular.

It may seem incongruous to have a children’s puppet show in a cemetery, but Bob Baker’s Marionette Theater (est. 1963) is no ordinary puppeteering experience, and Forest Lawn is no ordinary cemetery.

When Forest Lawn founder Dr. Hubert Eaton set out to build his cemetery 104 years ago, he wanted everyone to know that this was to be a place to not only remember loved ones passed, but a place where anyone could enjoy the natural beauty of the trees, rolling hills and beautiful vistas, and so he quite literally etched in stone what he dubbed “The Builder’s Creed,” stating Forest Lawn would be a place “Where lovers new and old shall love to stroll and watch a sunset’s glow, planning for the future or reminiscing of the past; a place where artists study and sketch; where school teachers bring happy children to see the things they read of in books; where little churches invite, triumphant in the knowledge that from their pulpits only words of love can be spoken.” Somehow I think the wonder and joy brought by Bob Baker’s marionettes honors this credo.

This event will also include free snacks, museum scavenger hunts, kids’ art tours, and a Forest Lawn coloring book for every child! Saturday 10:30 a.m.-noon, Forest Lawn Glendale, free. (Link to RSVP:

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