TOLEDO DIAMOND - courtesy Laura Butler Photography


TONIGHT! – PETER ERSKINE TRIO — Local boy makes good!! Actually, Erskine was a jazz star long before he moved to Santa Monica many years ago. I am usually satisfied “experiencing” a great performer or band once or twice, but any time I can see Erskine without buying a plane ticket, I’m there. He started playing drums at 4, joined Stan Kenton’s band at 18, then Maynard Ferguson, Weather Report with Jaco Pastorius (now, that’s a rhythm section), he can be heard on more than 700 albums and soundtracks! Erskine plays so gracefully, without flash, without even much arm movement, and Sam First, an intimate jazz club near LAX, is the perfect place to see that up close. He’s got a first-class trio here tonight with sublime pianist Alan Pasqua and the superb Derek Oles on bass. Tonight, Thurs, 7:30 and 9 p.m., Sam First, LAX, $25.

THEATRICUM BOTANICUM presents — What have I got to do to move you? I’ve been warning you every week that this “short”season of TB plays was ending soon but no, you muttered, oh… next weekend. Well, this is your last next weekend. You have almost but not quite missed out on one of the best theater companies in LA, in definitely the best theater in LA, spaciously spread out in the sylvan setting of Topanga Canyon.

SHAKESPEARE’S “JULIUS CAESAR” takes its last stab — carpe diem! — Sat 4 p.m.

“THE LAST, BEST SMALL TOWN,” an outstanding original by local playwright John Guerra. Sun 4 p.m.

SHAKESPEARE’S “A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM’’ is not performed this weekend, but you have one last chance next Sunday. Don’t Puck it up.

All performances TB, Topanga Canyon, $10-60.

THE TOLEDO SHOW (Halloween!) — This very long-running epic stage show deserves not only mention every week but probably HIGHLY RECOMMENDED. This Sunday being Halloween I expect everything to be cranked up several notches, so, the perfect first time to go — you will return. Dancer and choreographer for Janet Jackson, Sammy Davis, Jr. Paula Abdul, Diana Ross, Al Green, Smokey Robinson. “Soul singer, jazz man, poet and probably one of the most dramatic and entertaining performers you will ever see.” OK, I’ll second all that. “‘Avant jazz,’ ‘acid jazz,’gangsta jazz,’ ‘beat poetry,’ ‘funked-up spoken word,’ ‘smokey-storyteller laid-back Cab Calloway Tom Waits killer R&B with jazzy rock ‘n’ roll dance grooves.’” That may leave you a bit confused, but hopefully, absolutely intrigued. Go this Sunday, when all the other freaks come out to play. Every Sun 9:30 p.m., Harvelle’s, DTSM, $12.

CELSO SALIM & DARRYL CARRIERE — Carriere blows a runaway train harmonica and whiskey-rough, high- octane vocals, and Salim’s one hella blues shouter himself and plays enough guitar for an army. They are wailin’ and moanin’down on Main Street, right next to Ashland Hill, but don’t procrastinate, it’s getting colder and blues men always move on down the road. Every Sun 3-5 p.m., parking lot adjacent to Ashland Hill, Main Street, free.

EM THE MASTER — I’ve been giving EM’s show a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for months now and still do. “The Master”? Too much hype on the marquee? Maybe not, if you can back it up, and EM does. She sings, dances, has dancers. She crawls across the floor like a reptile, gripping the mic and never missing a musical beat. She doesn’t play the piano, she attacks it. Uses her voice as an instrument in creative ways. Her energy is nonstop and seemingly limitless. Writes terrific songs perfect for her act, and she may remind you some of a more energetic Lady Gaga. Every Tues 9:30 p.m., Harvelle’s, DTSM, $10.


TONIGHT! – HAMILTON — I think I can only go wrong by not recommending it, from what I’ve heard and read. Tonight Thurs, Fri, Sat, Tues, Wed, next Thurs 8 p.m., Sun 1 p.m., 6:30 p.m., also Sat 2 p.m., Pantages Theater, Hollywood, $49-3000+, depending on date/time.

TONIGHT! – BRANFORD MARSALIS QUARTET — You won’t get his tour mates The Grateful Dead but I can’t imagine the former Tonight Show band leader, New Orleans legend and Ellis Marsalis’ oldest boy,not delivering. Tonight Thurs 8 p.m., The Soraya, CSUN Northridge, $41-86.

LA OPERA ORCHESTRA plays a live soundtrack to horror film “GET OUT” — if you are serious about getting really scared for Halloween. Fri, Sat, Sun 8 p.m., Sun 2 p.m., The Theater at Ace Hotel, DTLA, $34-99.

MONTY ALEXANDER — You don’t know Monty? Tony Bennett, Ray Brown, Dizzy Gillespie, Sonny Rollins, Clark Terry, Quincy Jones, Sly & Robbie do, wait, the reggae rhythm masters? Alexander is a native of Kingston, was a member of The Skatalites way back when, and is possibly the finest jazz pianist you’ve never heard of. You can change that. Fri, Sat 8:30 p.m., Sat 10:30 p.m., Catalina Jazz Club, Hollywood, $40-60.

LA OPERA presents WAGNER’S “TANNHÄUSER” —No, I can’t give you a personal report because I didn’t see it until last night (pre-column) but it is getting rave reviews. Wagner always goes big (and that’s why Hollywood loves his tunes) and this is archetypal Wagner, with LA Opera using 145 cast and musicians to present his sin and salvation spectacle of a knight deciding it’s time to get back to the real world, to normalcy, morality, and what is expected of a knight, and to pursue the woman of virtue he desires, after a year of debauchery with Venus in her underworld Playgirl Mansion, “trapped” he was, he said — can he do it? You have only one more performance after this week to find out. “Tannhäuser’ is widely regarded as one of the most majestic, sublime, and moving of all operas,” I’m told, and who am I to argue, there are still a couple of operas I haven’t seen yet. Lead Issachah Savage is considered a “heldentenor,” or “heroic tenor,” bringing that voice and stagecraft to one of the most challenging roles in opera. Sun 2 p.m., Wed 7:30 p.m., Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, DTLA, $19-292.

STEWART COPELAND: “POLICE Deranged for Orchestra” — I’m always leery of rock music “orchestrated,” but with Police founder Copeland behind the kit, “one of the greatest drummers of all time” sez Rolling Stone, composer of film soundtracks, ballets, operas and orchestral music, this sounds really interesting, worth the drive and the price, I’m betting, next Thurs, The Soraya, CSUN Northridge, $41-110.

COMING ATTRACTIONS: An Evening with DAVID SEDARIS, The Soraya, 11/10; HARVELLE’S Celebrates Jason & Damian’s 4-Year Anniversary there, with THE DAMN WELL PLEASE ORGAN TRIO, Harvelle’s, 11/12; LIBRARY GIRL, Ruskin Group Theater, 11/14; MARTHA GRAHAM DANCE COMPANY, The Soraya, 11/14; LA OPERA presents ROSSINI’S “CINDERELLA.” Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, 11/20-12/12; THE SKATALITES, The Venice West, 12/3; PONCHO SANCHEZ and His Latin Jazz Band, Catalina Jazz Club, 12/10-12; JOHN MAYALL, WALTER TROUT, Saban Montclair, 12/12; X, BLASTERS, Henry Fonda, 12/16; MUSICARES honors JONI MITCHELL, LA Convention Center, 1/29/22.

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