McCABE’s: Get picky. photo courtesy McCabe’s


Keep in mind, we lost a lot of great venues, for good, during this awful pandemic. Hard for any business to keep going when they can’t open their doors for nearly two years.

I figured McCabe’s would be OK because they also sell and repair instruments and provide music lessons, which can be done virtually. Also, they own the land and building so are not subject to some greedy landlord’s whims.

Still, that famed stage in the back room has been silent for so long, we’ve almost forgotten what it meant to look forward to special, sometimes unique performances there. The talented concert director for many years, Kora “Koko” Peterson, recently left for unshuttered doors, and will be missed. “Her contribution was monumental to the success of the Concert Series. She was always a champion of young upcoming artists. She also produced the very successful ‘Concert in the Park’ series for the City of Santa Monica.” (And made it the best ever, I would add.)

Who said that? The new guy. Except he’s not a new guy, for this important, influential position. The perfect outcome, I would say, has emerged, with a bang. Wayne Griffith has been in the sound room there for 35 years and McCabe’s is known for having superb sound, one of the reasons they get the acts they do. Griffith also handles anything else that comes up. You know how that goes in a small operation. So he knows every capo and pedal there. The only question: does the sound guy have the impeccable taste to book this famous room, not just make it sound great?

Well, he recently sent an email unleashing a passel of bookings, and I’m convinced already that McCabe’s concert series is in good hands. Whew.

They’ve had Janis Ian (3/11, 12 – sold out) booked for a long time, in March, on her farewell tour, but look who else now (a sampling): Loudon Wainwright III, Tom Rush, Eliza Gilkyson with Nina Gerber, Pierre Bensusan, Chris Smither, Robbie Fulks, Griffin House, Julie Christensen. And they are now again offering music lessons in person.

Thank you Jesus.


The Four Freshmen concert at Pepperdine last weekend was entertaining, but the boys missed an obvious opportunity.

You’re a noted vocal harmony group formed in the late ‘40s who the Master of Vocal Harmonies, Brian Wilson, has always cited as a major influence on his work.

You’re performing a show in his backyard, Malibu. There’s a chance he might even be there. But nonetheless, you have the perfect opportunity to make the connection to your audience, with the most influential cultural icon in California history. You can raise your hipness quotient exponentially, with one song. Put down your instruments and crowd the mic and give us your best version of “In My Room.” I guarantee the silver-haired crowd would have gone nuts. Oh well.


Concert for MUSICARES honoring JONI MITCHELL – Musicares is a great organization that helps musicians down on their luck, recognizing what a gift music is to the entire world. This annual tribute concert is their biggest fundraiser. It should be great, with an OK lineup announced but it’s Grammy week and God might show up (not everyone knows but She plays a mean bottleneck), all paying tribute to the guest of honor by performing her songs and saying sappy but heartfelt things about this queen of music. I’d like to report on it but it appears my ducats got lost in the mail. Curse you, DeJoy. Sat 8 p.m., Convention Center, DTLA, $2,500-$6,000 (sorry, the Gold ticket cheap seats are sold out).


TONIGHT! – HAMILTON — Still with us, thank goodness, but only six more weeks. 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.

BJORK – What is there to say? No one knows what she will do, for any given show, even on a tour. When I was dragged to a show of hers some years ago I was, predictably, not totally knocked out by the music (but it was much better than I anticipated), but she is all about the visuals and no one tops her. Expect the provocative, outrageous and delicious. Sat, Wed 8 p.m., Shrine Auditorium, LA, $64-673.

SARAH SILVERMAN & Friends – Who knows about her friends but Silverman is someone you either can’t stand or love a lot, put me in that last basket. Sat 8:30 p.m., also 2/19, 3/5, Largo at the Coronet, LA, $35.

JOHN MAYALL – the term “legend” is thrown around pretty liberally but Mayall qualifies, indisputably. Yes he was the long standing godfather of British blues, recruiting players such as Clapton, Mick Taylor, Peter Green, John McVie and Mick Fleetood, Champion Jack Dupree, Jack Bruce, Paul Butterfield, Don “Sugarcane” Harris, Harvey Mandel, Albert King, Blue Mitchell, Ernie Watts, Billy Gibbons, Otis Rush, Steve Cropper, Steve Miller, Joe Walsh – the list goes on. Know someone by the company they keep, or play with. Mayall has multi-instrumental chops and soulful if not standard blues pipes. He wrote a lot of excellent songs too. He made quite a mark in a short time before fleeing Britain for America, home of all the blues he loved. This is probably his last tour. He’s just over the border in Venice, on Lincoln. Go, for pete’s sake. Sun 8 p.m., also 2/27, Venice West, $35.

NORWOOD FISHER presents IN-JAMATION – Norwood of course of Fishbone infamy, a founding mother, loves to put together these messy jam sessions (Trulio Disgracias) that have their moments of transcendence. Sometimes big name players show up. But it should be fun in our local Trip on Lincoln, on a Thursday night for no cover. At worst you have a beer and meet some new people. At best you witness history, a lifelong story to unfurl. Next Thur 9:30 p.m., The Trip, Santa Monica, free.

COMING ATTRACTIONS: SPARKS, Walt Disney Concert Hall, 2/7,8; LA PHIL with ESA-PEKKA SALONEN plays Strauss, Smith, and Salonen, Walt Disney Concert Hall, 2/11,12; BARBARA MORRISON, Vibrato, 2/13; GARRCK OHLSSON plays all Chopin, Walt Disney Concert Hall,2/13; LA PHIL with SALONEN plays Bartok, Bjarnason, Sibelius, Walt Disney Concert Hall,, 2/18,19,20; SARAH SILVERMAN & Friends, Largo at the Coronet, 2/19, 3/5; PETE ESCOVEDO, Vibrato, 2/20; LA PHIL with FATHER JOHN MISTY, Walt Disney Concert Hall, 2/25; JOHN MAYALL, Venice West, 2/27; HERBIE HANCOCK, Walt Disney Concert Hall, 2/27; THE ENGLISH BEAT, The Bourbon Room, ¾,5.

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 36 years and wouldn’t live anywhere else in the world. Really. Send love and/or rebuke to him at