HIGHLY RECOMMENDED: 

THE HOT CLUB OF LOS ANGELES – Breakneck, virtuosic 1930s Django-style swing music in the cozy Culver City dive, almost 75 years old with live music almost every night and never a cover charge. It’s gigs like this that make putting up with the bad side of Santa Monica worth it. Every Mon 9 p.m., Cinema Bar, Culver City, no cover.

EM – She’s still amazing. But nothing good lasts forever, you know. Don’t push your luck. So why not go this Tuesday night? Betcha, you’ll thank me. Every Tues 9:30 p.m., Harvelle’s, Santa Monica, $10.

LA OPERA, “LUCIA DI LAMMERMOOR” – The great news is that LA Opera is back for what looks like another stellar season, leading off with this classic Donizetti tragedy. The bad news is I can’t write more about this because I’m on vacation in Colorado and the group is taking off in a few minutes. But you will note I made this a HIGHLY RECOMMENDED sight unheard because, well, I haven’t seen LA Opera falter for many seasons. Sat 6 p.m., Wed 7:30 p.m. Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, LA, $24-274.

REDMAN-MEHLDAU- MCBRIDE-BLADE – I don’t have the space for four bios so let’s just say this quartet of virtuosos is well worth the drive to Northridge. Next Thurs, The Soraya, CSUN, $39-94.-

RECOMMENDED:

ELIZA GILKYSON – Honest: I’m not recommending you go hear Gilkyson out of some nostalgia for the crush I had on her when we were both in our 20s and she made the occasional trek from her beloved northern NM down to Albuquerque. She went by Lisa then (I have the album) and she had a quiet fire and authenticity in her performance and lyrics that were hard to deny. I knew she was the best NM had but I couldn’t have predicted then that she would have the lifelong, rabid following, activist career she has had. Nor the recognition: twice GRAMMY-nominated, her songs have been covered by Joan Baez, Bob Geldof, Tom Rush and Rosanne Cash and have appeared in films, PBS specials and on prime-time TV. Austin Music Hall of Fame, Austin Songwriter Hall of Fame. Born in Hollywood, many years in Austin, she is now back to her beloved northern NM. This is just a three city tour, from Santa Ynez to San Pedro so don’t miss out, and since McCabe’s snagged her you don’t even have to go to Pedro. Fri 8 p.m., McCabe’s, $32. 

THEATRICUM BOTANICUM – You have an opportunity again to sate your live theater jones in one weekend, with all four of TB’s 2022 lineup available. “TROUBLE THE WATER” is the riveting, barely believable true story of Robert Smalls’ bold plan to escape slavery, with his family, by commandeering the Confederate warship he was serving on and impersonating the captain through three nail biting checkpoints – Fri 7:30 p.m. TB’s flag and forte is Shakespeare, and when I saw “THE MERRY WIVES of WINDSOR” recently, I struggled through a somewhat slow and confusing opening act (blame the Bard and his penchant for confused identities and genders) but it recovered magnificently and the second half paid off in gold, with an inspired ‘50s setting adaptation which allowed the injection of pop songs of the era that fit the narrative and were familiar and lots of fun – Sat 7:30 p.m. Their very first performance 50 years ago was “A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM,” and they have performed it every season since. You don’t have to sit indoors and imagine a forest: it’s surrounding the massive TB outdoor stage – Sun 3:30 p.m. “WESTSIDE WALTZ” (written by Ernest Thompson, “On Golden Pond”) trots out the TB elite, founder Will Geer’s very accomplished lineage, daughter Ellen, her daughter Willow, and Ellen’s half-sister Melora – Sun 7:30 p.m. All shows Theatricum Botanicum, Topanga Canyon, $10-60 (discounts for seniors, students, teachers, veterans, AEA, ages 5-15).

PACIFIC OPERA PROJECT, DONIZETTI’S “L’ELISIR D’AMORE” (“THE ELIXIR OF LOVE”) – They’re back! That lil ol’ opera company who did most of their early shows in Santa Monica, has grown remarkably under the leadership of colorful director Josh Shaw, they may not have million dollar sets or a 90-piece orchestra but they are not lacking in any category, including voices and acting, and are swearing to give us an even better time this season, something they always deliver. Donizetti in the 1950s? Why not? Sat 7 p.m., Sun 3 p.m., El Portal Theatre in N Hollywood, $20-100.

I SEE HAWKS IN LA – These four concerts in the park on a Sunday afternoon have become a cherished Santa Monica tradition now, and since it has become McCabe’s presents Americana in the Park, it’s hard to miss. ISHILA has been a favorite alt country band of mine for decades. Pack a dandy picnic and take your family and friends. If you wait until Oct. you’ll have to go to Texas to see them. Sun 4 p.m., Gandara Park, Santa Monica, free.

TOLEDO DIAMOND — The true hipster (when that sobriquet meant something way cool), choreographer to the stars, smoky Svengali, showman supreme. Toledo and his unquestionably unique show always pleases, if you are ready for the very different. Every Sun 9:30 p.m., Harvelle’s, Santa Monica, $12.

COMING ATTRACTIONS: “THE WESTSIDE WALTZ” 9/23, 10/1, “TROUBLE THE WATER” 9/24, 10/2, “THE MERRY WIVES OF WINDSOR” 9/25, 10/2, “A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM” 9/25, 10/1, Theatricum Botanicum; LA OPERA, “LUCIA DI LAMMERMOOR,” 9/24, 28, 10/2, 9; BONNIE RAITT with MAVIS STAPLES, Greek Theater, 9/24; LITTLE WILLIE G, Gandara Park concerts, 9/25; GRACE JONES, Hollywood Bowl, 9/25; TOLEDO DIAMOND, Harvelle’s, 9/25; HOT CLUB OF LOS ANGELES, Cinema Bar, 9/26; EM, Harvelle’9/27; ROGER WATERS, Crypto.com Arena. 9/27, 28; ROXY MUSIC, ST. VINCENT, Kia Forum, 9/28; HERBIE HANCOCK, Hollywood Bowl, 9/28; PORCUPINE TREE, Greek Theater, 9/30; DESERT DAZE with IGGY POP, KING GIZZARD & THE LIZARD WIZARD, TAME IMPALA and dozens more, Lake Perris, $139-1,999; LAKE STREET DIVE, JACK JOHNSON, Hollywood Bowl, 10/1, 2; MUSE, Wiltern, 10/4; MAHLER, DUDAMEL, Disney Hall, 10/6, 7, 8, 9; MARCUS KING, Wiltern, 10/7; DANNY ELFMAN, Hollywood Bowl, 10/28, 29; SOWETO GOSPEL CHOIR, The Soraya, 10/29; RICK SHEA, , TONY GILKYSON, CINDY BERRYHILL Songwriters Showcase, McCabe’s, 10/30; CHAKA KHAN, Disney Hall, 10/30; JEFF BECK, Orpheum Theater, 11/6 (also Thousand Oaks, Anaheim, Temecula); LYLE LOVETT, JOHN HIATT, The Soraya, 11/9; RHIANNON GIDDENS, Disney Hall, 11/12; ALBERT LEE, McCabe’s, 11/12; ELTON JOHN, Dodger Stadium, 11/17, 19; LIZZO, Kia Forum, 11/18, 19.

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