TONIGHT! – BILLY GIBBONS Birthday Jam with Robby Kreiger, Joe Bonamassa, others — I have to report they say it is sold out because who worth their rock and roll salt wouldn’t stand one more time in front of the beyond-legendary ZZ Top guitar slinger to hear whatever explodes out of his axe, especially now that Dusty Hill has passed over that hill and the Z is no more, so this is for those determined souls who view “sold out!” as a sign to bring cash, cunning, charisma and charm. Good luck. Thurs 9 p.m., Troubadour, W Hollywood, $$$?
LA SANTA CECILIA – Maybe the best band and vocalist you’ve never heard of. I’ve not yet seen them live but just listen or watch a video and you will be hooked. The three guys are absolute virtuosos who sound like a much bigger band, and I can’t say enough about singer La Marisoul. A voice that can kill any song , she is the perfect one for their mission of LA cultural identity. Most songs are in Spanish – rumbas, boleros, bossa nova, , cumbia, tangos – plus jazz, klezmer, some songs in English, all with a modern sensibility. Just like LA. They knock me out. Fri 8 p.m., The Novo, DTLA, $25.
ONCE UPON A TIME IN LA with Snoop Dogg, Al Green, YG, George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic, 50 Cent, Ice Cube, Isley Brothers, The Game, War and on and on – I’ve rarely seen a lineup this packed. Amazing. The ‘90s in LA returns with a vengeance, with lots of modern juice thrown in. Three stages, I think, and you’ll have to keep moving for all 12 hours to not miss someone special. Sat 11 a.m. – 11 p.m., Banc of CA stadium, Expo Park, DTLA, $160-549.
STEVIE WONDER’s 23rd House Full of Toys Benefit Concert – One of the best concerts I ever saw in my life was Stevie Wonder in a small room with a killer band, playing and singing his songs for more than two hours. Just him. What else do you need? There will likely be other stars show up but that’s just frosting, Frosty. And such a good cause, for 23 years, toys for kids at Christmas who probably wouldn’t get anything but coal otherwise, Stevie is a wonder. Sat 8 p.m., Microsoft Theater, DTLA, $33-155.
EM THE MASTER — I’ve been giving EM’s show a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for months now and still do. 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. More talent than anyone has a right to. Every Tues 9:30 p.m., Harvelle’s, DTSM, $10.
TONIGHT! – “HAMILTON” — ‘Nuff said. 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.
DON CARLOS – That long white beard, is it Santa? Lovers’ rock, roots reggae, he’s been doing this nearly 50 years, straight outta Kingston (the posh part, but deep in music territory too), praise Jah the righteous folks at Echo snag these stars for us so often. They won’t shine forever. Fri 9 p.m., Vub Club/Echo, $20.
JOSE FELICIANO – I was not much of a fan for many years but I’ve come to appreciate his unique pop-jazz-Latin style that did break down so many music barriers, and that is always a good thing. He pours out some pretty heavy, swinging energy with just a fiercely strummed guitar and that remarkable voice. At 76 he can still light your fire, and isn’t this a perfect time to hear “Feliz Navidad” from the one and only? Fri 8 p.m., The Saban, Beverly Hills, $38-68.
TOLEDO DIAMOND — Have you gone to catch his unique show yet, every Sunday night at Harvelle’s, here in SM? I’ve been recommending him for… decades. Trust me. Sun 9:30 p.m., Harvelle’s, DTM, $12.
ARTURO SANDOVAL BIG BAND: Swinging Holiday – I’ve been privileged to see Sandoval a few times and he blows you away with being equally proficient on both piano and trumpet (Dizzy Gilespie met him in cuba and they became friends), two very different instruments. Worried about “Jingle Bells” instead of “serious Latin jazz? Don’t. You’ll be swingin’ and jivin’ with him so hard you won’t even realize they’re playing “Frosty the Snowman.” Tues 8 p.m., Walt Disney Concert Hall, DTLA, $49-117.
SARAH SILVERMAN & Friends – She’s definitely one of those love her or don’t get/don’t like her at all comedians. I love her and think her casual delivery works on some deep levels. And she is a fearless and very visible social activist, so, that too. Wed 8 p.m., Largo Theater, LA, $? (seems to be sold out – hey, I’ve had it listed in COMING ATTRACTIONS for weeks, sorry but ya gotta MOVE on this stuff or get left out).
COMING ATTRACTIONS: BARBARA MORRISON QUINTET, Vibrato, 122/24; SARAH SILVERMAN,, Rory Albanese, Brian Monarch, Hollywood Improv, 12/30; FISHBONE, Venice West, 12/31; ORIANTHI, Venice West, 1/7; Lenore Raphael Trio featuring BARBARA MORRISON, Vibrato, 1/9; LA PHIL with Michael Tilson Thomas, EMANUEL AX Ax plays BRAHMS, Walt Disney Concert Hall, 1/13, 14, 16; RACHAEL & VILRAY, Troubadour, 1/16; LA PHIL with Michael Tilson Thomas, GERALD CLAYTON plays Symphonic ELLINGTON, Walt Disney Concert Hall, 1/20, 21; COLIN BLUNSTONE, Joe Wong, The Downtown Palace Theatre, 1/22; ITZAK PERLMAN, Rohan De Silva, Walt Disney Concert Hall, 1/26; BJORK, Shrine Auditorium, 1/26, 29; 2/2; NATHANIEL RATELIFF & The Night Sweats The Novo, 1/28; THE ENGLISH BEAT, The Bourbon Room, 1/28, 29; RAUL MALO, The Canyon Agoura Hills 1/28, The Canyon Santa Clarita 1/30; MUSICARES honors JONI MITCHELL, LA Convention Center, 1/29; FEE WAYBILL, Troubadour, 1/29.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org