BLIND BOYS OF ALABAMA – While the Rolling Stones (well, two of them) continue to amaze by performing into their late 70s, The Blind Boys were performing years before Mick and Keith were even born. (They have had a few lineup changes too.) Five GRAMMYs and their Lifetime Achievement Award, White House performances under three presidents, world tours and collaborations with Prince, Tom Waits, Mavis Staples, Peter Gabriel, Allen Toussaint, Willie Nelson, Stevie Wonder, Lou Reed, Taj Mahal, Bonnie Raitt. In the ‘50s they lost a big opportunity by turning down an offer to tour with Ray Charles… if they would sing other genres besides gospel. They dropped that rule decades later and blew open the notions of gospel music by performing popular songs but changing arrangements and lyrics to make them sanctified. Should you go to all the hassle to see them at MdR’s lovely Burton Chace Park this Saturday (for free, by the water) – it will be packed and if you want to be able to see the stage you need to leave Santa Monica at least three hours early, to see a bunch of really old guys sing gospel songs? They will probably all be seated on chairs on stage, but at show’s end you will remember that one of their hit songs is “Atom Bomb.” Do not miss this opportunity. Sat 7 p.m., Burton Chace Park, MdR, free.
VAN DYKE PARKS, GABY MORENO – At the last moment this one slipped upward from REC to HIGHLY REC. Why? These are two exceptional talents, and unknown to many. Both perform here infrequently. They are as different as night and day, the show is titled “Boleros and Beyond” and I am resisting the temptation to even imagine what will happen on that stage. This might be a clue: the instrumentation includes accordion, clarinet, upright bass, trumpet, violin. I will resist trying to describe Parks in anything less than a small book, but I have been a fan since his first album (mid-‘60s). Which included the charming, totally weird number called “The All Golden,” which was used in a car commercial, I think. I would recommend this show if it was only him, but a couple years ago when a friend exclaimed, in horror and delight, “You don’t know Gaby Moreno?!” then without waiting for an answer dragged me to The Troubadour where I became an instant fan. She’s Guatemalan and plays a mean guitar and sings in Spanish, French, Portuguese and English and mixes up her genres too, and writes terrific songs as well. Go with no preconception or expectations and I’m pretty sure you will have a memorable, extraordinary time. Mon 7:30 p.m., Zebulon, LA, $54.
THE HOT CLUB OF LOS ANGELES – Virtuosic breakneck Django-style swing music (but no room for swing dancing!) in the tiny Culver City dive celebrating 75 years. Every Mon 9 p.m., Cinema Bar, Culver City, no cover.
EM – An amazing performer in every way. For more details, see every recommendation I’ve made in this column for the last year. Every Tues 9:30 p.m., Harvelle’s, Santa Monica, $10.
DIANA ROSS – Really, what is there to say? Even royalty does not live forever, or perform. She must be on so many bucket lists. (Mine has one name only: Jeff Beck, and he is coming Nov. 6 to the Orpheum Theater, o’boy.) Fri, Sat 8 p.m., Hollywood Bowl, $23-119.
THEATRICUM BOTANICUM – Everything they do is top rate, – acting, staging, costumes, writing, imagination. And often offering a banquet of food for thought. “TROUBLE THE WATER” is at the top of my list, a dramatization of the true story of a back Southerner who commandeered a Confederate warship, loaded his family on board and proceeded to bluff his way through checkpoints to escape to the North and add an important piece to the Union navy – Fri 7:30 p.m., “WESTSIDE WALTZ” features three generations of the Geer women who have kept this rare top shelf arts enterprise going for many decades – Sat 7:30 p.m., “THE MERRY WIVES of WINDSOR” oh lordy was I faced with writing a rare criticism of a TB show? The acts before intermission were so dry and confusing I wanted to run (blame the Bard for catering to his comedy audience who just l-o-v-e-d confused identities and genders) but the second half paid off in gold, and an inspired ‘50s setting adaptation allowed the injection of pop songs of the era that fit the narrative and were familiar and lots of fun – Sun 7:30 p.m. All shows Theatricum Botanicum, Topanga Canyon, $10-60 (discounts for seniors, students, teachers, veterans, AEA, ages 5-15).
TOLEDO DIAMOND – The true hipster (when that sobriquet meant something way cool), choreographer to the stars, smoky svengali, showman supreme, Toledo always fascinates and pleases, if you are ready for the very different. Every Sun 9:30 p.m., Harvelle’s, Santa Monica, $12.
LA PHIL, BEETHOVEN’S 9TH – OK, no Dudamel but I’m sure trusting Eva Ollikainen with the baton was hardly a random choice, and you have the LA Master Chorale and four tremendous soloist vocalists, Michelle Bradley on piano, and the mighty Beethoven’s rare, transcendent testament to humanity and unity. Tues, next Thurs, 8 p.m., Hollywood Bowl, $1-130 (that’s right, you can experience Beethoven’s 9th by the LA Phil for a buck, is that crazy?)
COMING ATTRACTIONS: “GUESS WHO’S COMING TO DINNER,” Ruskin Group Theatre, 9/2, 3, 4; “A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM” 9/2, 5, 10, 18, 25, “THE MERRY WIVES OF WINDSOR” 9/4, 9, 17, 25, “TROUBLE THE WATER” 9/4, 11, 16, 24, “THE WESTSIDE WALTZ” 9/3, 11, 18, 23, Theatricum Botanicum; TOLEDO DIAMOND, Harvelle’s, 9/4, 11, 18, 25; HOT CLUB OF LOS ANGELES, Cinema Bar, 8/29, 9/5, 12, 19, 26; EM, Harvelle’s, 8/30, 9/6, 13, 20, 27; HERWAY TO HELL, Harvelle’s. 9/2; MOZART UNDER THE STARS, LA PHIL, Hollywood Bowl, 9/6; ALICIA KEYS, Greek Theater, 9/6, 7; JAZZ AT LINCOLN CENTER ORCHESTRA with WYNTON MARSALIS, MANHATTAN TRANSFER, Hollywood Bowl, 9/7, 8; LADY GAGA, Dodger Stadium, 9/10; CLASSIC CAR SHOW on The Pier, 9/10; ITZAK PERLMAN, LA PHIL, Hollywood Bowl, 9/13; ELIZA GILKYSON, NINA GERBER, McCabe’s, 9/16; I SEE HAWKS IN LA, Gandara Park concerts, 9/18; REGGAE NIGHT XX: UB40, THE WAILERS, 9/16; TINARIWEN, The Ford, 9/16; UB40, Hollywood Bowl, 918; REDMAN-MEHLDAU- MCBRIDE-BLADE, The Soraya, 9/22; BONNIE RAITT with MAVIS STAPLES, Greek Theater, 9/24; LITTLE WILLIE G, Gandara Park concerts, 9/25; GRACE JONES, Hollywood Bowl, 9/25; ROGER WATERS, Crypto.com Arena. 9/27, 28; ROXY MUSIC W/ST. VINCENT, Kia Forum, 9/28; HERBIE HANCOCK, Hollywood Bowl, 9/28; PORCUPINE TREE, Greek Theater, 9/30.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org