Music: CRAY BAILEY@Harvelle’s on Friday. Photo courtesy RB

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED:     

RAY BAILEY – This is exciting. Longtime Watts blues master Ray Bailey seems to have decided to reintroduce himself to parts farther north. Sure, Bell’s Garage on Sundays, steps from his boyhood home, is a cool and convenient gig, and he used to be Mma’s main man for years at Babe’s & Ricky’s until she passed on, but don’t the good folks of Santa Monica deserve a treat too? This night will be special, with guest artists Greg Wright and the fantastic Brenda Lee Eager. I know her stirring voice and inventive style from certain Sunday services at Agape (originally in Santa Monica, now far outgrown the basement of the Miramar and spread its influence internationally), but that was not her first time in church, oh no. She grew up singing in church in Lower Peach Tree, A, and moved to Chicago where Rev. Jesse Jackson featured her. She was the lead backup singer for Jerry Butler, and their duet of “Close to You” injected some soul into the Carpenters’ hit and it reached #6 on the R&B chart. She has also sung backup for Ray, Stevie, Mavis, Diana, and Graham Nash and had her songs recorded by Aretha, Mavis, Gladys and Prince. Sure, Greg Wright played on the Jacksons’ “Victory” album and tour, but he recently won the SoCal Blues Society’s Battle of the Blues Bands, so it seems he is still racking up victories. You will sit there and think, I can’t believe I’m hearing this much great live music for 10 bucks, right here in downtown Santa Monica. Fri 9:30 p.m., Harvelle’s, Santa Monica, $10.

THE HOT CLUB OF LOS ANGELES – How can you not love this band if you know great playing and a great musical era, ‘3os swing, Django-style? I tell you, it’s gig like this that make moving to LA completely worth it. I did, even though it was years before they first power strummed at the intimate Cinema Grill. But there is always someone like this if you explore all the books of this great city. But you don’t have to. I do it for you, in this column. Every Mon 9 p.m., Cinema Bar, Culver City, $0.

EM – is NOT at Harvelle’s this Tuesday. North last two Tuesdays.. I thought I should tell you just in case you picked one of those Tuesdays to finally follow my strong urging to see this strong performer. She had another commitment, so the bookers at Harvelle’s decided they just couldn’t fill her shoes and didn’t book anyone else. But she’ll be back. Next week. Every Tuesday.

RECOMMENDED:

“GUESS WHO’S COMING TO DINNER” – Let’s hear it for all the arts groups struggling to survive a pandemic for two years without box office, only to cautiously return, to limited seating, audience trepidation/absence, having to cancel rehearsals or even performances, losing key players to COVID at the last minute, never knowing what’s around the corner. But here they are, a performing arts gem of Santa Monica, launching a production everyone would be highly anticipating even in normal times. 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. Fri, Sat 8 p.m., Sun 2 p.m. – sold out but waiting list available. Ruskin Group Theatre, SM Airport, $20-35.

“THE WESTSIDE WALTZ” – Theatricum Botanicum is our world class troupe in Topanga, for more than half a century (and you still haven’t gone?!), specializing in The Bard and performing “Midsummer” every year, outdoors in their very own enchanted forest. Also known for their socially conscious choices of material. Theatricum artistic director Ellen Geer, her sister Melora Marshall and daughter Willow Geer take on the roles of an aging concert pianist, her violinist spinster neighbor, and a would-be actress on New York’s Upper West Side in the tumultuous ‘80s, from Oscar-winning writer Ernest Thompson (“On Golden Pond”). Sat 7:30 p.m., Theatricum Botanicum, Topanga Canyon, $10-60 (discounts for seniors, students, teachers, veterans, AEA, ages 5-15).

ALAN PASQUA TRIO – This is a superb trio led by the mesmerizing local jazz pianist, with the elegant Darek Oles on stand-up bass and the formidable Joe LaBarbara behind the drum kit. Sat 7:30, 9 p.m., Sam First, LAX, $25.

7 p.m., Greek Theater, LA, $29.50-425.50. 

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, unquestionably unique show at Harvelle’s. The door man there recently told me that someone showed up and said, “I’ve been reading Charles Andrews recommend this for about a year, so I finally have to see for myself.” The report was that the patron was danged pleased he did not miss another Sunday. Every Sun 9:30 p.m., Harvelle’s, Santa Monica, $12. 

COMING ATTRACTIONS: “GUESS WHO’S COMING TO DINNER,” Ruskin Group Theatre, 7/8, 9, 10, 15, 16, 17;  WILLIE NELSON & Family, KACEY MUGRAVES, JASON ISBELL and the 400 Unit, Old COLD CROW MEDICINE SHOW. The COMPTON COWBOYS, Brookside at the Rose Bowl, 7/9; “THE MERRY WIVES OF WINDSOR,” 7/9, 15, 24, 30, “TROUBLE THE WATER,” 7/9, 1, 23, 31, “THE WESTSIDE WALTZ,” 7/10/ 17, 24, 29, “A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM,” 7/10, 17, 22, 31, Theatricum Botanicum; LIQUID KITTY’S PUNK ROCK BBQ, Harvelle’s, 7/10; TOLEDO DIAMOND, Harvelle’s, 7/10, 17, 24; 31; LIBRARY GIRL, Ruskin Group Theatre, 7/10; HOT CLUB OF LOS ANGELES, Cinema Bar, 7/10, 17, 24, 31; EM, Harvelle’s, 7/12.19, 26; OZOMATLI, GRAMMY Museum, 7/14; CALIFORNIA GUITAR TRIO, McCabe’s, 7/17; LA PHIL, DUDAMEL, “The Valkyries,” Hollywood Bowl, 7/17; LA PHIL, DUDAMEL, PARIS OPERA BALLET, Hollywood Bowl, 7/20, 21; BURNING SPEAR, Youtube Theater, 7/24; LA PHIL, DUAMEL, BEETHOVEN’S 5th, Hollywood Bowl, 7/26; BILLIE EILISH, DEBBY HARRY, SETH MCFARLANE, DIANNE REEVES, BETTYE LAVETTE – Tribute to PEGGY and FRANK, Hollywood Bowl, 7/27; LA PHIL, DUDAMEL, LA MASTER CHORLE – CARMINA BURANA, Hollywood Bowl, 7/28; JOHN FOGERTY, Hollywood Bowl, 7/30. 

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 therealmrmusic@gmail.com