EM THE MASTER — Yes, she is officially upgraded from RECOMMENDED to the lofty pedestal of HIGHLY RECOMMENDED (make room, Dudamel). I figured this day would come, but I was getting a little skittish. I had seen her only once.

Would my raves for this performer, appearing every Tuesday night at lil ol’ Harvelle’s right here in downtown Santa Monica, that I put in previous NOTEWORTHY columns starting about five weeks ago, wind up haunting me? Digital is forever.

It’s a hazard of the job of being an arts critic. I burned myself badly in college, when I finally fell off the fence — in the wrong direction — over the multi-mega-hit album “Hi Infidelity” by REO Speedwagon. It just kept hanging around, selling 10x platinum. One hit single after another, six, plus two more that weren’t singles but still made the charts. I began to think, maybe I’d missed something. After much agonizing I finally decided to give it a good review, did not sleep that night and by dawn was trying to figure out how to collect every copy that had been distributed and burn them.

It’s a tough tightrope. You have to be honest and informed, call spades spades but spot and praise the good stuff, and always remember that the only thing you have is your credibility. (Well, and that spiffy yellow sports car I got from REO’s record label, but that was after the fact and only made me feel worse and… it’s irrelevant to this discussion, and I’ve already settled with the DA and the IRS.)

So I dropped in to Harvelle’s Tuesday and though I caught only four or five numbers, all doubt was erased. EM is the real deal. You hear this catch phrase a lot but she really does “have it all.” Probably not the very best voice you’ve ever heard but that’s not a distraction, and she can sell a song. You want opera or a rockin’ show? She’s one of the best performers you’ll ever see, bar none, and that’s worth gold. Mick Jagger is not the world’s greatest singer. Elton John either, but a heckuva entertainer. Madonna didn’t reach stardom on her singing. Rhianna, Janet Jackson. EM may remind you of Lady Gaga, no small compliment. I know she spent some time in New York and co-authored a book with Gaga that made the NY Times best-seller list — !!

EM not only rules the stage (and the floor she crawls over, and the top of the bar she stomps across pounding out melodic rhythms with glow-drumsticks on every surface, all with unbelievable and non-stop energy), she is backed by a damned good band and, very, very importantly, has fantastic arrangements, which I assume are also hers. And she writes her own songs, excellent both musically and lyrically, and is still coming up with new ones. I heard two Tuesday and they were both winners.

Every Tues 9 p.m., Harvelle’s DTSM, $10.


TONIGHT! HAMILTON — No, I haven;t seen it, dammit, but I think I can only go wrong by not recommending it, right? 6:30 p.m., $55-200.

Friday – 8 p.m., $55-225

Saturday – 2 p.m., $75-449; 8 p.m., $55-449

Sunday – 2 p.m., $55-449

Tues, Wed, next Thurs, 8 p.m.,$55-369

All performances at Pantages Theater, Hollywood

THEATRICUM BOTANICUM presents “THE LAST, BEST SMALL TOWN” — this moving, timely original with themes of racism, small town life, economic disparity, stereotypes, youthful rebellion, the value of education, family expectations and dynamics, tradition — in other words, the human condition. Sat 7:30 p.m.

SHAKESPEARE’S “A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM” — one of the best “AMND” I can recall, since the time my daughter played a faerie when she was wee. Loved the inventive physical comedy, and these fairies were really good, Who could not be charmed by their little chirping sounds? Sun 4 p.m.,

SHAKESPEARE’S “JULIUS CAESAR” — Wordy, Will, but historically informative, and makes it all come alive. In school Shakespeare’s dialog was often Greek to me but now every word shimmers, due to the delivery by the TB thespians. Christopher W. Jones stood out as conflicted bad guy Brutus, as did Willow Geer as Portia, and special linguistic laurels go to Melora Marshall as Cassius, who was just made for this part, even though it is a man’s part. So much distinction in her delivery, it pulls you straight in, to the moment. Sun 7:30 p.m.,

All performances TB. Topanga Canyon, #10-$26 general admission.

LIBRARY GIRL (is back!!) presents “THE BOOK OF LIGHT – TRIBUTE TO LUCILLE CLIFTON” — actually they came back last month after a year and a half but I missed it boo hoo not going to miss this one because in many years I haven’t yet seen a show that wasn’t thoughtful, memorable, even inspiring.

Eight poets will be reading their own works, that have some connection to Clifton. A format like this, like the old Improv long line of comics, is always a good bet because if you’re not crazy about whoever is up, just wait for the next one. And as carefully, expertly curated as this series is, 13 years now (by founder Susan Hayden, now abetted by husband Steve Hochman, a noted music journalist) — you may just like every reader.

Music performance by The Prickly Pair (Mason Summit and Irene Greene). Managing Director: Mike Myers. Production Support: Nicole Millar and Paul Denk. All proceeds from every LG show are donated to the Ruskin Group Theatre.

Proof of vaccination is required, and wearing a mask during the show is mandatory. Sun 7 p.m., Ruskin Group Theatre, SM Airport, $15, dessert included.


REST IN PEACE DON EVERLY (1937-2021) — The sole surviving Everly Brother. First song I ever learned on guitar was their 1957 number one hit “Bye Bye Love.” I was lucky enough to see them open for Simon & Garfunkel when I was ten. I didn’t really listen to Simon & Garfunkel yet I was excited just to see the opening act! I’m ever-grateful for the music Don and his brother made together and shared with the world… some of the greatest harmonies ever recorded.

So many great songs they had, but I’ve been stuck on “Don’t Forget to Cry” for a couple days now.

Charles Andrews has listened to a lot of music of all kinds, including more than 2,000 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