TONIGHT! – CELSO SALIM & DARRYL CARRIERE – Would you like to see two LA dudes whomp the hell out of the blues with the best of them? I thought so. Salim plays a mean bottleneck guitar and sings, and Darryl blows the walls down with his harp and does the same with his dangerous scream and growl vocals. Thurs, 9:30 p.m., Harvelle’s, Santa Monica, $10.
LA OPERA, VERDI’S “AIDA” – I don’t pretend to be an opera aficionado (enthusiasm yes, not so much knowledge), but between the Santa Fe and LA Operas I’ve got a few under my belt now, and this “Aida” is among the best. Oh, I know, if you look up experts’ opinions on The Best Operas Ever, Verdi shows up a lot, but not “Aida.” Feh. So much depends on the singers and the staging. With arresting, often bright red-against-black tall columns of “modern hieroglyphics” by LA graffiti artist RETNA, and at least four stunning principal vocalists, this production knocked it out of the park. Give credit to international star director Francesca Zambello for her vision, and to conductor James Conlon. The orchestra, sometimes the least noticeable element, was the best I’ve ever heard them, precisely executing what I would consider a great piece of music by Verdi, inventive, taking some chances, that not only mirrored but drove the action on stage, and avoided cliches. The story line was great: ancient Egypt, a war against Ethiopia, and prominent figures on both sides falling in love. What a finish! The plot made real life sense, something often lacking in operas. I’ve seen a few Verdis, and if this is one of his lesser works, you couldn’t prove it by this LA Opera production. It is a mesmerizing three hours of entertainment from at least five directions, and you may be able to snag a ticket for 34 bucks. Sat 7:30 p.m., The Music Center, LA, $34-399.
This performance will be simulcast to three points in LA, and our Pier is one of them. Free.
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.
TONIGHT! – “GUESS WHO’S COMING TO DINNER” – Another hurrah goes up, the Ruskin is back! An arts gem of Santa Monica. With the LA premiere of Todd Kriedler’s adaptation of the 1967 film about racial and generational family upheaval that, sadly, still has relevance half a century later. Directed by Lita Gaithers Owens. You can bet on whatever happens on the Ruskin stage. Thurs 8 p.m., Ruskin Group Theatre, SM Airport, $20-35.
DR. ANGELA DAVIS, “Power to the Imagination: The Role of Art and Creativity in Social Change” – Davis not only survived becoming a relic of a revolutionary time, she has thrived, in an academic career and a continuation of activism, showing it to be still needed. Here she focuses on the role of creativity, in a conversation about the role art has played in social justice movements and its potential to effect change today. Sun 7:30 p.m., Walt Disney Concert Hall, LA, $10.
“THE POINT” – This sounds like great fun, and a good cause fundraiser. Hallelujah! The summer outdoor theater season is about to begin, at the enchanting Theatricum Botanicum site in Topanga Canyon. They will present preview scenes from the four shows scheduled, followed by a performance of the precious Harry Nilsson album “The Point,” a modern classic fairy tale (with a point), performed by a 14-piece band, sung by son of Schmilsson Keifo, assisted by Pamela Adlon (the voice of Benny “King of the Hill”). Sun 4 p.m., Theatricum Botanicum, Topanga Canyon, $80 premium seating and reception with performer;, $42 lower tier, $25 seniors, students, teachers, veterans, AEA; $10 ages 5-15; upper tier free.
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.
SONNY GREEN, LA JUKE JOINT BLUES FESTIVAL – I don’t know much about the other performers (7 or 8 of them) but here’s what I do know: Sonny Green will be the ringmaster this night, and he is indeed a Southside LA legend. I first caught him in a packed, narrow joint in Inglewood about 30 years ago, and I love the guy. He won’t knock you over like the next Otis Redding or Jame Brown, he’s a bit laid back, but you can hear in his voice and performance a history of Louisiana and southside soul and R&B. Plus, he is a very sharp dressed man. You will probably have trouble getting tickets: I had to jump all over the place just to find out the starting time. Cadillac Zack is the promoter, you might try him. Worst info/tickets system I have ever seen. Mon 8 p.m., Maui Sugar Mill Saloon, Tarzana, $?.
COMING ATTRACTIONS: RAY BAILEY BIRTHDAY BLUES BASH, Harvelle’s. 6/10; LA OPERA performs VERDI’S “AIDA,” Music Center, 6/12; “GUESS WHO’S COMING TO DINNER,” Ruskin Group Theatre, 6/10 – 7/17; EMMYLOU HARRIS, Disney Hall, 6/11; BILL CUNLIFFE TRIO with Darek Oles, Mark Ferber, Sam First, 6/11; “THE MERRY WIVES OF WINDSOR,” 6/11-10/2, “A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM,” 6/12-10/1, “THE WESTSIDE WALTZ,” 6/25-10/1, Theatricum Botanicum; LIBRARY GIRL, Ruskin Group Theatre, 6/12; JON MAYER TRIO, Sam First, 6/15; CHRIS ISAAK, LYLE LOVETT and His Large Band, Greek Theatre, 6/17; 33rd Annual MARIACHI USA FESTIVAL, Hollywood Bowl, 6/18; MARY GAUTHIER, McCabe’s, 6/18; TOM PAXTON, McCabe’s, 6/24; HOLLYWOOD BOWL JAZZ FESTIVAL, 6/25; STEVE POSTELL’S NIGHT TRAIN MUSIC CLUB, McCabe’s, 6/26.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org