Passion: The Music of LOU HARRISON and JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH. Jacaranda


Time, I guess, to write about another amazing memorial service for a music friend of mine.

Last Thursday I acknowledged some parts – impossible to really capture it – of the memorial at the end of the Pier for Scott Ferguson, a man whose life was dedicated to so many endeavors in music. I think anyone who was there (so many) will never forget it.

Equally unforgettable was the celebration of life six weeks ago for my dear friend of many years, another longtime Santa Monica resident, the irrepressible, irreplaceable, unique character that was Will Ryan. It was held in the expansive outdoor-indoor space of the home of Jan Goodman and Jerry Manpearl, longtime close friends of Will and his bride and longtime significant other, Nancy Niparko. That much space was barely enough, for all the people, and for all of Will’s… stuff.

Now, when I say that, I don’t mean he was a hoarder, by the usual definition. But Will’s interests and knowledge were so wide-ranging that he did accumulate a lot, and a lot of it was quite valuable, even museum quality. Most of it was show biz oriented, and some of it went up for sale the first day. I picked up a bitchin’ fancy cowboy shirt, and would have liked half a dozen more.

So that day was one side of Will, but the next day painted a more complete picture of the creative deep well that he was, as brought out by stories told by his friends. Those stories also solidified what everyone who knew him knew, that he was one of the kindest, most loving, generous souls who ever walked this earth. We hear that about many but I’ll bet on Will for that gold star any day, and so would all his friends.

I won’t go into his truly endless list of artistic accomplishments, that ranged from major animation voice overs to books of his poetry to films and paintings and certainly hundreds of songs he wrote, if not 1,000. I do urge you to get a picture of that from the tribute I wrote to him in my CURIOUS CITY column of five months ago. I give great thanks to my paper’s owners and editors for moving mountains to get that piece in and Will did have it read to him a couple of days before he passed. I did not reveal in the column that he was sick, just another incredibly accomplished citizen of our fair city.

There was music, of course, not many tears but lots of smiles and laughter, there were some pretty famous folks telling their Will stories. My only regret about it was that he couldn’t be seated in the back, aw shucks-ing it all in. We’ll all never forget how you rode that range with rhythm, Will.


THE PETER ERSKINE TRIO – not to diminish in the least the other two players, pianist ALAN PASQUA and bassist DAREK OLES are each in the top ranks on their instruments. But Erskine is, no question (in my experience), THE best jazz drummer on the planet, playing with restrained virtuosity that floors you. He is absolutely melodic, and so casually inventive you could easily miss it. He is not the guy who just keeps the beat. If you don’t trust my opinion, ask Weather Report, Steely Dan, Stan Kenton, Joni Mitchell, Maynard Ferguson, Diana Krall, John Abercrombie, John Scofield, Al Di Meola, Pat Methany, or the late great Jaco Pastorius. He’s lived in Santa Monica for decades but doesn’t perform that often. Lucky for us he likes Sam First, close by at LAX. Go to both shows. Fri 7:30, 9 p.m., Sam First, LAX, $25

JACARANDA presents PASSION: The Music of LOU HARRISON and JOHANN SEBASTIAN BACH – After too long without their incredibly creative and virtuosic performances, it is so great to have Jacaranda back, and in our own backyard. The First Presbyterian Church on Second Street (time for a political rant: conveniently just across from a parking garage, you know, the parking garages some zealots in the city are trying to eliminate, because of course if you eliminate parking spaces, cars will magically go away), has superb acoustics, and sight lines. This is the LA premiere of Bach’s demanding masterpiece Easter Oratorio, and Jacaranda is pulling out all the stops. I expect the Harrison piece to be a wonder too. Fasten your seat belts. SAT 8 P.M., First Presbyterian church, SM, $20-45.

EM the MASTER –Why do I keep HIGHLY RECOMMENDING this show, week after week, for months? Because it’s still as great a performance as it was the first time I saw her, and because there still may be one or two of you who haven’t gone to Harvelle’s on Fourth Street on any Tuesday night, parked right next door in the parking structure, plopped down your 10 bucks cover charge (are you serious?), ordered a couple of modestly-priced drinks at the bar from the friendly co-owners Jason or Damian, and settled into a comfy booth ready to be entertained, maybe even amazed. Yeah, she’s that good. Every Tues 9:30 p.m., Harvelle’s, Santa Monica, $10.


PIERRE BENSUSAN – The guitar is a gorgeous instrument in the hands of a master, and French-Algerian Pierre Bensusan has been that for decades. Before people recognized “world music,” he was an exemplar, in his songs and his compositions. Just when he has hypnotized you with his playing, he may surprise you with his unique vocals, or even a little scatting. McCabe’s is the perfect place to see this master up close and personal. Fri 8 p.m., McCabes, SM, $26.50.

BONFIRE – Can’t actually recommend them since I’ve never seen them, but… AC/DC’s music is pretty basic and simple rock ‘n’ roll that should be fairly easy to replicate well, they mastered the zen of three (loud) chords and are kings of great stompin’ riffs and melodies, they’ve got a gazillion hits you love, an if their singer is pretty close to channeling Bon Scott and/or Brian Johnson, you should have a great headbangin’ evening. Harvelle’s don’t book no posers. Fri 9 p.m., Harvelle’s, SM, $12.

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. Choreographer to the biggest stars, smoky-voiced hep cat, creator of a unique floor show, with his dames, circus hoops, and a band that is truly a knockout. Trust me. You’ve never seen anything like Toledo. You will not forget this show and likely you will be back, friends in tow. Sun 9:30 p.m., Harvelle’s, Santa Monica, $12.

COMING ATTRACTIONS: DAKHA BRAKHA, UCLA, 4/24; ITZHAK PERLMAN, Walt Disney Concert Hall, 4/24; ROGER McGUINN, Smothers Theatre, 4/25; NAS with the LA PHIL, Walt Disney Concert Hall, 5/1; LA PHIL performs STRAVINSKY’S “THE RITE OF SPRING” with DUDAMEL, Walt Disney Concert Hall, 5/5, 6, 7, 8; JIM KWESKIN, McCabe’s, 5/7; LA PHIL performs REVUELTAS, STRAVINSKY’S “PETRUSHKA,”with DUDAMEL, Walt Disney Concert Hall, 5/12.13; LA PHIL performs VILLA-LOBOS, STRAVINSKY’S “FIREBIRD.” with DUDAMEL, Walt Disney Concert Hall, 5/14, 15; SONGWRITERS SHOWCASE with RICK SHEA, Petty/Chavez & Jeff Turmes, McCabe’s, 5/16.

Charles Andrews has listened to a lot of music of all kinds, including more than 3,000 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