AND THAT’S WHY I MOVED HERE
Forty years ago. For the music. I have understood almost my entire life that live music is one of the greatest joys on God’s green earth. But the place where I grew up didn’t have enough of it, not good enough, nor enough variety.
LA does. In spades. I have long contended that there is no other city on earth that has more/better of every kind of music imaginable. But you have to dig it out, it’s hiding over a vast landscape. Then you have to get up off your couch and put down your phone.
Every live show is a gamble. Sometimes Van Morrison will piss you off, sometimes he’ll take you straight to heaven. But as the wise philosopher Wayne Gretzky said, you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.
This past Monday I went with a friend to see the Hot Club of LA at the Cinema Bar, a friendly tiny bar in Culver City with music seven nights a week, no cover. (See below.) I hadn’t seen them for quite a while and forgot just how good they are. Amazing, really. They knocked me out. Playing the gypsy jazz style of Django Reinhardt, thus their name.
But what really brought it home, what a privilege it is to live in this magnet for music, was spending part of an evening with renowned diva Julia Migenes in her one-woman show (plus pianist) at the Odyssey Theatre near Olympic and Sepulveda.
I thought it was a bit of a farewell tour but no! She came out of a four-year retirement for only these shows, only at the Odyssey then that’s it. She was working with someone on a French-language opera and realized how very much she loves these evocative songs.
Her show didn’t knock me out. It’s not intended to. But it was magic. Music elicits the entire spectrum of human emotion and what she did was magical, telling personal stories from her astounding career and transporting the audience to the romantic Paris that no longer exists, of Edith Piaf, Picasso, Jacques Brel, Hemingway, Charles Aznavour, because in those songs it will always exist.
It takes courage to do this show. She has nothing left to prove. And she’s doing it only here. N’est-ce pas?
TONIGHT! — THE FAMILY ACID, CALIFORNIA book signing (this is a little hard to explain but let me try — Roger Steffens has led the most interesting life of anyone you’ve never heard of, from Brooklyn to wartime Viet Nam to CA to JA to Morocco, he’s taken superb photos, 10s of 1000s, every step of the way, now finally curated and cataloged by son Devon and daughter Katie and broken into eras and themes and tonight you will see a CA volume plus DJ ARK and please, what is cooler and more interesting than CA?), Thurs 7-11 p.m., The Standard, Hollywood, free.
TONIGHT! — JULIA MIGENES (Grammy-winning chanteuse Julia Migenes travels back to the Paris of Piaf and Picasso in this evening of nostalgic French chansons by Charles Aznavour, Léo Ferre, Jacques Brel, Michel Legrand, piano accompaniment byVictoria Kirsch, directed by Oscar-nominated Peter Medak, one of her four ex-husbands she told us, but those are just the facts, look at the top for reasons you should definitely be in one of those seats), Thurs-Sat-next Thurs 8 p.m., Odyssey Theatre, WLA, $40.
TONIGHT! – 1984 (how memorable does this sound? stage adaptation of the chilling George Orwell novel, now with Tim Robbins not only directing but in the lead role of O’Brien), Thurs, Fri, Sat, next Thurs 8 p.m., Sun 2 p.m., The Actors’ Gang Theater, Culver City, $20-$35, Thursdays “Pay What You Can,” must sign up by 7:30.
TONIGHT! — LINDA RONSTADT: THE SOUND OF MY VOICE (did she go away for a few days or was she always hiding out here? amazing how long this music doc has played, way longer than anyone might have guessed, but it is good and will perhaps open your eyes to more respect for a woman who blazed early trails in male-dominated rock, advocated for human rights, shared a mattress on the floor of the Governor’s Mansion with Jerry Brown, lived life and her art on her own terms and succeeded wildly, and as Dolly Parton declares, “that girl could sing ANYthang!”), Thurs-next Thurs, Royal Theater, WLA.
SIGNIFYIN’ BLUES Benefit for BARBARA MORRISON’s CA Jazz & Blues Museum, KEB’ MO’, others (also Keb’ Mo’ tribute banquet, Sunday jazz brunch, interactive talks with musicians, dance workshops and competitions — well that’s a mixed bag but the cause is good and any chance to hear local luminaries Mo’ or Morrison is a very good bet, both? — you bet!), Fri-Sat-Sun 7:30 p.m., Renaissance LAX Hotel. $35-$219.
JUDY COLLINS (if I have to tell you who she is you’re probably under 40 but for those who grew up with her affecting,gorgeously sung — that voice! — songbook, you won’t miss this chance, two chances actually, to be taken away by sweet Judy blue eyes), Fri 8 p.m., The Canyon Agoura Hills, Sun 8 p.m., The Rose, Pasadena, $38-$58.
JACARANDA – THE PARTCH ENSEMBLE (Harry Partch was an American composer, music theorist and creator of musical instruments who composed using scales of unequal intervals in just intonation, one of the first in the West in the 20th century to work systematically with microtonal scales, so now do you know what to expect? — me either but I expect to be surprised and delighted and emotionally and intellectually stimulated because that always happens at a Jacaranda concert, our treasure right here in downtown SM, the Partch Ensemble returning for the first time in a decade to perform for the first time ever the complete The Wayward, adding trumpet, saxophone and adapted viola to the eight-member Ensemble), Sat 8 p.m., First Presbyterian Church, DTSM, $20-$45.
HOT CLUB OF LA (hadn’t revisited these guys for a long time, playing in the style of 1930s gypsy guitar master Django Reinhardt and the Quintet du Hot Club de France, remembered them as being very good but not this good, maybe they’ve been practicing, can you imagine playing every single Monday for eight years now, all excellent musicians but the two blazing acoustic guitarists Josh and Jake will keep your jaw on the floor, Jackson Browne loves them and has sat in occasionally), every Mon 9 p.m., Cinema Bar, Culver City, free.
RICHARD THOMPSON, ELIZA GILKYSON (solo acoustic sets from Thompson may not show off the full electric range of his prodigious instrumental skills, he did some shows at the Getty a while back that covered music in the first millenium A.D., then the second, but they will probably show us something we may not have suspected he had up his sleeve, Gilkyson has her own devoted following over five decades, I used to see her in NM when we both lived there, her well-crafted songs will take you to another place), Mon-Tues 8 p.m.Teragram Ballroom, DTLA, $35.
COMING ATTRACTIONS: MAGIC FLUTE – LA OPERA, 11/16, Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, DTLA; MELISSA ETHERIDGE, 11/16, Disney Hall, DTLA; GHOSTLAND OBSERVATORY, 11/17, Regent Theater, DTLA; JACK SHELDON Big Band, 11/29-30, Catalina Bar & Grill, Hwd.
BODACIOUS BIRTHDAYS: JONI MITCHELL to you, Roberta Anderson to her friends and dinner dates (1943).
Charles Andrews has listened to a lot of music of all kinds, including more than 2,000 live shows. He has lived in Santa Monica for 33 years and wouldn’t live anywhere else in the world. Really. Send love and/or rebuke to him at [email protected]