Tour: ZZ Top is on tour despite the death of a founding member. Courtesy photo


Somehow I missed the news that ZZ Top is continuing to tour without their bassist of 50 years, Dusty Hill, who died suddenly last summer. “The Band” announced – the day after announcing his death – that the best way to honor his memory was to continue to tour. Right. It is the best way to honor their bank accounts.

I suppose reasonable people can disagree on this issue. But really, how much more money do you need after a very successful career of more than half a century? Guitarist Billy Gibbons, still a force of nature, could tour under his own name and likely draw the same big crowds. But don’t call this band ZZ Top.

For all their faults as ethical humans, Led Zeppelin declared Zep finished when their drummer John Bonham, maybe the best ever, died, and they stuck to it. Founding Rolling Stones bassist Bill Wyman quit rolling after 30 years and seems to be happy, at 85 enjoying his country estate, gathering moss.

I have always been a big fan of Billy Gibbons, for so many reasons, but now I see him as no better than greedy, ice-hearted, pathetically insecure egomaniac Pete Townshend of The Who, also touring right now, as The Who, should be billed as Half The Who, having not missed a beat after the loss of their two brilliant, irreplaceable co-founders, John Entwhistle and Keith Moon. 

Writer Hunter S. Thompson had the best quote ever about the business side of music: “The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There’s also a negative side.”


TONIGHT! LA PHIL, DUDAMEL, “BEETHOVEN’S NINTH” – There is only one excuse for missing a cosmic event like this, and that is if every ticket is sold and you can’t get a returned ticket and you can’t beg one from someone going in and you just don’t have the cajones or the proper equipment to mug someone in the parking structure for their ticket. Actually, you would have to finish them off, wouldn’t you, because a survivor could send the gendarmes straight to your seat, and how embarrassing would that be? Some might call this work the supreme achievement of all compositions, many would agree it was the master Beethoven’s greatest masterpiece, exploding with creativity and humanity, building to a joyous climax in the final movement that can only be expressed by 1000 voices on stage, or is it 100? (LA Master Chorale). This one could take you to heaven. Thurs 8 p.m., Walt Disney Concert Hall, $120-180.

LA OPERA, VERDI’S “AIDA” – Been waiting for this since the beginning of the season last October, when Verdi’s “Il Trovatore “ mesmerized me and left me wanting more of the master. Full orchestra and chorus, a bit of ballet thrown in, all taking place in ancient Egypt. Eat your heart out, Paramount Plus. With even a seat in the rafters, you get a helluva lot of spectacle, stunning sets and music and transcendent human voices by world class stars, for 34 bucks. Sat 7:30 p.m., The Music Center, LA, $34-399.

EM the MASTER  – She’s still amazing, she’s still here. Nothing good lasts forever, you know. Every Tues 9:30 p.m., Harvelle’s, Santa Monica, $10.


TOLEDO DIAMOND — Every time the thought pops up, what shall I do with my weekend, you should remember you can blow the top off it by ending it in front of Toledo Diamond and his superb and unquestionably  unique show at Harvelle’s. Every Sun 9:30 p.m., Harvelle’s, Santa Monica, $12. 

COMING ATTRACTIONS: LA PHIL, DUDAMEL, “BEETHOVEN’S NINTH,” Disney Hall, 5/27, 28, 29; DAVID BINNEY QUARTETS feat.. GERALD CLAYTON, Sam First, 5/27. 28; LA OPERA performs VERDI’S “AIDA,” Music Center, 5/29, 6/2, 4 (also live simulcast at SM Pier), 9, 12; LAURENCE JUBER, McCabe’s, 5/28; “GUESS WHO’S COMING TO DINNER,” Ruskin Group Theatre, 6/3-7/17; , SONNY GREEN, LA JUKE JOINT BLUES FESTIVAL, Maui Sugar Mill Saloon,  6/4; DR. ANGELA DAVIS, Disney Hall, 6/5; “THE POINT,” Theatricum Botanicum, 6/5; EMMYLOU HARRIS, Disney Hall, 6/11; “THE MERRY WIVES OF WINDSOR,” 6/11-10/2, “A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM,” Theatricum Botanicum, 6/12-10/1; JON MAYER TRIO, Sam First, 6/15; 33rd Annual MARIACHI USA FESTIVAL, Hollywood Bowl, 6/18; MARY GAUTHIER, McCabe’s, 6/18; TOM PAXTON, McCabe’s, 6/24.

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