ELLA: The music of Ella Fitzgerald is at CSU Northridge on Wednesday. Courtesy photo

A WORD OR TWO ABOUT LIVE MUSIC

It’s always a gamble. A gamble you have to take.

Recently, following my own column recommendations…

I caught Dave Wakeling, founder/leader/songwriter and most importantly THE VOICE of all those great hits from The (English) Beat and General Public, delivering a fine concert that the packed crowd at our new neighborhood venue that looks very promising, The Venice West, on Lincoln. But I have seen Wakeling 8-10 times and this show was not what I hinted at in my column. Not nearly as many hits, too many slower or little-known songs. The band was excellent, but on those hits, they can be killer.

Last week I went all the way up to Northridge (90 minutes there, 28 back) for a very promising show: Founding Police drummer Stewart Copeland, a sensational player, had arranged those great songs for a 28-piece orchestra plus guitar and bass and three singers. But I couldn’t “hear” it, even in acoustically fine Soraya Hall, and seated right next to the sound board. Copeland was too loud and the bass boomed in the first half, and the singers were too loud and the guitar and instrumental soloists all unheard the whole time. I had never encountered bad sound there before. The mixologist looked about 20 and sheepishly said, at intermission, “we were having some technical problems.” But they never got fixed.

But you have to show up anyway, for the gold. That you will almost always get if you choose wisely. And as the great philosopher of Kings Wayne Gretky one said, adapted here — you will miss out on 100% of all the great concerts you don’t go to.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED:

HARVELLE’S Celebrates Jason & Damian’s 4-Year Anniversary there with THE DAMN WELL PLEASE ORGAN TRIO — If you have somehow, in the last 90 years, managed to never make it inside Harvelle’s, now is your perfect opportunity because Darius Holbert, aka The DWPOT, is a show like no other, a mob of excellent musicians crowding the stage on the edge of chaos but with Darius herding those cats to make them sound like heaven in New Orleans. He is mostly retired now and only plays here, and usually only for Mardi Gras, so what just what are you waiting for? Fri 9:30 p.m., Harvelle’s, DTSM, $10.

CELSO SALIM & DARRYL CARRIERE — I kept telling you about these two because while it seemed they would be there forever, that word doesn’t exist for musicians and now they are leaving, this will be their last show. Just walk down to Main Street on a beautiful Sunday afternoon, for a spectacular slide guitar-harmonica vocal blues duo. Earlier than before because of stoopid DST change. Sun 2-4 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? 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 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.

RECOMMENDED:

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.

PACIFIC OPERA PROJECT presents HANSEL AND GRETEL — A few years ago the LA Opera did H&G and I had reservations, I mean really, a children’s fairy tale, not the heavyweight moral issues opera usually tackles? But it was superb and funny, and I expect the POP to deliver their own unique brand of that, family-friendly, sung in English, outdoors at Forest Lawn Cemetery, it’s the perfect introduction to opera for children and adults who act like children about opera. Co-founder Josh Shaw directing is a big plus. Gates will open at 4 p.m. with table seating available for picnicking before and during each show. Free parking available. Sat, Sun 5 p.m.; Forest Lawn Glendale, $10-125.

LIBRARY GIRL presents MICHAEL CAINE PROJECT, Part III — I missed Parts I & II! But I bet that won’t matter for Part III. If you love Michael Caine, especially movies with him in them, or poetry, spoken word and music, you should be here. There’s nothing quite like this in LA, and it’s in our backyard. And reasonably priced, with free parking, and dessert thrown in. Such a deal. Sun 7 p.m., Ruskin Group Theatre, SM Airport, $15.

THE TOLEDO SHOW — There is little in this life you can count on, especially in the world of live music, but two of them are: Toledo Diamond 1) showing up at Harvelle’s every Sunday night, without fail, for 20 (!) years, and 2) delivering a great show. I’m now in my fifth decade of being entertained by The Toledo Show, stretching back to off-Sunset Strip beginnings, and the show and his band have only gotten better over the years. Every Sun 9:30 p.m., Harvelle’s, DTSM, $12.

MARTHA GRAHAM DANCE COMPANY: “Appalachian spring” — Haven’t seen them in decades but companies that reach their level of recognition usually keep their mojo going through leadership and personal changes and shifting cultural winds, so if they are even close to what they’ve been for so long this will be an experience to remember. Music by Aaron Copeland, choreography by Graham. Sun 8 p.m., The Soraya, CSU Northridge, $41-86.

COUNT BASIE ORCHESTRA: “Music of Ella Fitzgerald’’ — This 18-piece band (playing the Basie charts?), some of them hired by Basie way back when, has gotten some rave reviews for bringing forth the solid swing Basie was known for, and while obviously no one could stand in for his incomparable vocalist Ella Fitzgerald, Lizz Wright is a fine choice and wisely does Lizz Wright, not Ella. Wed 8 p.m., The Soraya, CSU Northridge, $41-86.

COMING ATTRACTIONS: PACIFIC OPERA PROJECT presents HANSEL AND GRETEL, Forest Lawn Glendale, 11/20-21; LA OPERA presents ROSSINI’s “CINDERELLA,” Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, 11/20-12/12; BONEDADDYS, Venice West, 11/21; THE SKATALITES, Venice West, 12/3; CHARLIE HUNTER – SCOTT AMANDOLA DUO, Venice West, 12/4; PONCHO SANCHEZ and His Latin Jazz Band, Catalina Jazz Club, 12/10-12; JOHN MAYALL, WALTER TROUT, Saban Montclair, 12/12; TAKE 6 CHRISTMAS, Pepperdine, 12/15; 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 therealmrmusic@gmail.com