WAITING FOR JEFFBECK: Parience pays off.
I hate technology, I love technology.
I previously wrote in NOTEWORTHY, upon the sad occasion of the sudden, unexpected death of British master electric guitarist Jeff Beck (of bacterial meningitis), that seeing him perform live was on my very short music bucket list. Somehow I missed him every time he came through town (which was not very often). I almost saw him, I thought, 57 years ago in a small New Mexico town.
It was unbelievable, that fall of my freshman year in college, The Yardbirds, one of the great British Invasion bands, would be playing Las Cruces, NM, but there it was. I convinced a couple of buddies that we had to go, even though it was more than 200 miles. We selected the person whose car seemed most likely to survive the trip and were all set to take off, very excited, when I somehow got word the night before that the venue had burned to the ground. Arson, from long hair hippie hating southern NM rednecks? We’ll never know.
The Yardbirds famously kept replacing their star lead guitarist with another bigger star. The pick passed from Eric Clapton to Jeff Beck to Jimmy Page. I know. I didn’t know then what the lineup was, and didn’t care. But all this time later I was curious – who was the star Yardbirds guitar whiz that I almost saw? My research didn’t answer the question, until finally I found a post where every single Yardbirds tour was listed, from beginnings through reformations and current pretender tours. It was on that list that I finally found their North American tour of that time, and the likely answer.
It was four dates, in early September 1965. Oklahoma City (State Fair), Phoenix (Jaycees Club), LA (Bob Marley’s House – ??), and Memphis (Skateland). My guess is that Las Cruces was scheduled as the first stop (!!) until the fire, then OKC was quickly substituted. Because of the dates I was able to finally determine that it would have been the redoubtable Mr. Beck knocking out those fierce, inventive guitar runs.
Was it worth the wait, to finally, finally see him live at the beautiful Regent Theatre in downtown LA? Oh, yes. And it would be hard to imagine that anyone else in that packed house waited longer, or just missed him as a teenager because of a fire in the New Mexico desert.
THE HOT CLUB OF LOS ANGELES – Close your eyes. Listen. Where am I? What part of the world? Which century? You’re just outside Santa Monica, and it is now, every Monday in fact, for years now, and you haven’t punched this free time travel ticket to 1930s Paris yet? OK, it is a tiny, unpretentious room in Culver City but the sound is great, the stage maybe a foot high and right next to you, drinks are reasonable, street parking is easy and there is no cover any night. Hot Club’s brand of virtuoso, sometimes breakneck Django-style 1930s gypsy swing jazz is found nowhere else and even if it was, it couldn’t possibly be this tasty. These guys are masters, individually and collectively. You will find it hard to stop smiling all night. Mon 9 p.m., Cinema Bar, Culver City, no cover.
EM – She’s back! After a little break she might even be over the top with energy and new creativity, so, now’s the time! One of the most gifted and dynamic all-around entertainers you will ever see. That’s quite a statement. But what if I’m right? 12 bucks and a little time is not much to gamble on a performer and a show that might leave you at a loss for words. And a fan forever. Go see her and then tell me I’m lyin’. Tues 9:30 p.m., Harvelle’s, $12.
MONTEREY JAZZ FESTIVAL ON TOUR with KURT ELLING, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Lakecia Benjamin, Christian Sands, Yasushi Nakamura, Clarence Penn – All right, I’ll ‘fess up, I’m not very familiar with these performers. Names only, pretty much. But none of them would be on this bill if they weren’t first class. Kurt Elling, on the other hand, I am familiar with. Take this for what it’s worth, but I am recommending this show just because of him. I hope the large band setting, only one of several featured performers, doesn’t take the magnetic, very personal edge off his act, because when I saw him not long ago at Zebulon in Silver Lake, he completely made a fan of me. A consummate performer, more like a rocker than a jazz man. So yeah, I am recommending that whole big show just so you can catch Elling casting his spell. Fri 8 p.m., Disney Hall, $49-104.
TOLEDO DIAMOND – Unique, riveting, first class act. Just trot your procrastinating carcass down this Sunday night and see what you’ve been missing. Choreographer to the biggest stars, his stage show is funky but finely crafted. His persona is unique; octaves-low growl vocalizing that is ‘50s hipster poet meshed with ghetto cool. His band just keeps getting better and are worth the show themselves. And The Dames? – well I remember back when he was on Sunset Strip that we were still taken by surprise when a young woman seemed so moved by the moment that she slid to the dance floor to gyrate to the groove, progressing (by Diamond design of course) to a featured dance number, even incorporating chairs, table and bar tops, and unsuspecting patrons as props. With Toledo barely noticing and never skipping a beat. There’s nothing like it, it is high performance art and great fun, and he’s been doing it at Harvelle’s every dang Sunday night for more than two decades, no misses, even when he had to fly back from making a film in France. Rarely is degeneracy so well disciplined. Sun 9:30 p.m., Harvelle’s, Santa Monica, $12.
COMING ATTRACTIONS: TOLEDO DIAMOND, Harvelle’s, 1/22, 29; HOT CLUB OF LOS ANGELES, Cinema Bar, 1/23, 30, 2/6, 13, 20, 27; EM, Harvelle’s, 1/24, 31, 2/7. 14, 28; AX – MA – KAVAKOS, Disney Hall, 1/28; EMMANUEL AX, Disney Hall, 2/1; “RACHMANINOFF WAS HERE,” Maybourne Beverly Hills, 2/2; P-22 CELEBRATION OF LIFE, Greek Theater, 2/4; MOZART’S “THE MARRIAGE OF FIGARO,” LA OPERA, Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, 2/4, 6, 11, 16, 19, 23, 26; RICK SHEA, Cinema Bar, 2/10; DAREK OLESZKIEWICZ B-D CELEBRATION, Sam First, 2/11; “RACHMANINOFF WAS HERE: Beverly Hills Avant-Garde, Surrealism to Sunset Strip,” BH Womens’ Club, 2/11; “RACHMANINOFF WAS HERE: at the Greystone Mansion & Gardens,” 2/18; DAMN WELL PLEASE ORGAN TRIO, Harvelle’s, 2/21.
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 37 years and wouldn’t live anywhere else in the world. Really. Send love and/or rebuke to him at email@example.com