Music: Who is king of CA? Courtesy photo


SOUTHSIDE SLIM –Thank you again, Harvelle’s, for bringing back one of the very best bluesmen I’ve heard in years. Decades, maybe. Rare talent and energy (and he is no kid!). Slim tears it up with his jaw-dropping guitar work, vocals, and killer band serving up a mix of soulful blues both slow and frantic, jazz, funk, Latin, soul, and R&B. Go see Southside and you too will likely add him to your list of the best, and how often does that happen?  Fri 9:30 p.m., Harvelle’s, Santa Monica, $10.

RICK HOLMSTROM BAND with “Special Guest ‘THE KING OF DOWNEY” – I’ll be straight up with you: I’ve never seen the Rick Holmstrom Band, never heard anything by them. So how can I award the vaunted HIGHLY RECOMMENDED to this show?

Well, 15 years with the incomparable Mavis Staples as her guitarist and bandleader (she calls him “Pops Jr.” – holy smoke!) pretty much does it for me. His band for this show includes Mavis’ favorite drummer, local legend Steve Mugalian (his late wife taught at SMASH).

But wait, there’s more, as they say in the TV sales pitches. Last month Holmstrom was joined on the McCabe’s stage by the great David Hidalgo of Los Lobos. This time: “Special Guest ‘The King of Downey’.” McCabe’s majordomo of concerts, Wayne Griffith, said he was not at liberty to say any more than that. Lucky for you, I can put two and two together. 

I’ll bet my dark chocolate Cayman Island crocodile cowboy boots that it’s Dave Alvin, of Blasters and solo fame, and if it is, you don’t want to miss it. Dave is an absolute treasure,hasn’t performed live in more than two years and wasn’t scheduled to until the summer. Part of the reason was a near-fatal health failing – “I should have died,” he told Rolling Stone, but now has a clean bill of health.  

Although he and his Blaster bandmates are famously from Downey, he should be called the King of California. He has a passion for the diverse treasures of California, and embodies it in his words and music. A rockabilly rocker, poet, country crooner, folkie, GRAMMY winner, sometimes member of X and The Knitters, a true troubadour of the Golden State.. Oh, wait… he has a song titled “King of California.” (Not about him.) 

So if my 2 + 2 is wrong, just thank me for getting you there and enjoy the show. hank you, Rick Holmstrom, thank you McCabe’s, for this special treat. Makes me feel like the King of CA. Sun 8 p.m., McCabes, Santa Monica, $34.

EM the MASTER  – Every Tues 9:30 p.m., Harvelle’s, Santa Monica, $10.


TONIGHT! – LA PHIL with DUDAMEL performs STRAVINSKY’S “THE RITE OF SPRING,” Ginastera’s  “Estancia”  – Be on time and on point for these two classic ballet compositions. Stravinsky’s debut in Russia was fraught with controversy, from content to dancers, but many mark his composition as being the first step of 20th Century music, signaling that rhythm was now king. Ginastera uses the backdrop of the disappearing gaucho culture in Argentina and while the entire ballet music is rarely performed, this suite has become an international hit. Thurs, Fri, Sat 8 p.m., Sun 2 p.m., Walt Disney Concert Hall, $20-266.

PEARL JAM – I have a good friend in Long Beach, Kevin Poore. Met him when I was looking for music reviewers, as the newly hired music editor for a high end audio/video online magazine, Audio Video Revolution. But I didn’t want “music reviewers,” I wanted, of course, people who knew everything about music, because they love it so. But more importantly I was looking for really smart, creative, incredibly gifted writers who would use assignments as a jumping off point to create their own written work of art. I flooded Craig’s List in major cities and was a little surprised to get more than 100 responses from all over the world. (Nearly hired a guy in Budapest.) People who had written for LA Times/NY Times, Melody Maker, Downbeat, Rolling Stone. I was also surprised that, despite my meticulously constructed ad, few got it, got what I was looking for. A few folks (highly unqualified), got angry at me over the mere notion. But Kevin got it, and submitted a perfect review of the new Michael Nesmith (Monkees, First National Band) album that was more than halfway in before it even mentioned music at all. He told a great tale of a spoiled rich kid he knew in high school, and then deftly tied it all together to give a perfect review of that album. Kevin and I don’t always agree about music but his opinions are well considered and his taste impeccable. Once he bought a plane ticket to London because Kate Bush was performing for the first time in many years (Kevin is not a rich man, financially). I will bet you my black cherry full pin ostrich boots that he will be going to Pearl Jam both nights, and I think that means, unless you have something personal against Eddie Vedder, that means you probably should too. Yeah, both nights. Life is short, and uncertain. Fri, Sat 7:30 p.m., Kia Forum, Inglewood, $108-572.

JIM KWESKIN & Fiona Kweskin – jug band music, dating from the 19th Century American South, mostly African-American musicians but spreading to white rural river and mountain country, was distinctive for instruments homemade from common household utensils –washboards, stovepipes, combs, gourds, wash tubs, spoons and of course jugs, holding down the bass lines. It waned during the Depression but experienced a resurgence in the ‘50s-early ‘60s, sandwiched between the folk revival and the rock revolution. In San Francisco, Jerry Garcia was a jugger before helping form the Grateful Dead, The Lovin’ Spoonful (first album is a gem, start to finish) came out of New York and LA spawned The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. But The Jim Kweskin Jug Band, featuring Geoff and Maria Muldaur, was the top dog. And now here he is, Kwekin himself, in Santa Monica, still stompin’ that crazy beat. The stories he must have. Sat 8 p.m., McCabe’s, Santa Monica, $25.    

DAVID SEDARIS – You may not know of him. Not a straight up comedian like Chris Rock or Sarah Silverman, more a monologist – whose every sentence is a crack up. It’s dry, ”intellectual” humor, but if you can’t stop laughing, why put a label on it? If you don’t get enough that night go buy one of his best-selling books. Sun 7 p.m., Royce Hall, UCLA, $39-109.

TOLEDO DIAMOND — Every Sun 9:30 p.m., Harvelle’s, Santa Monica, $12. 

COMING ATTRACTIONS: LA PHIL with DUDAMEL performs REVUELTAS, STRAVINSKY’S “PETRUSHKA,” Walt Disney Concert Hall, 5/12, 13; LA PHIL with DUDAMEL performs VILLA-LOBOS, STRAVINSKY’S “FIREBIRD.” Walt Disney Concert Hall, 5/14, 15; SONGWRITERS SHOWCASE with RICK SHEA, Petty/Chavez & Jeff Turmes, McCabe’s, 5/16; LA OPERA performs VERDI’S “AIDA,” The Music Center, 5/21, 29, 6/2, 4, 9, 12; LAURENCE JUBER, McCabe’s, 5/28.

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