STEVIE WONDER plays Santa – Santa Monica Daily Press


Never liked your lame band Coldplay or some of your celebrity antics, but now you’ve demolished your star architect John Lautner-designed Malibu home, to build a bigger one, with an amphitheater. (Bet your neighbors will love that, but so what, right?) When he bought it, the listing called it a “true architectural gem.” He won’t be homeless during the construction, though – he has other properties in Point Dume, some walking distance from the razed Lautner.

What is it with these English pop stars and their mansions in Malibu? Remember a few years back, the controversy over U2’s David Evans (The Edge) wanting to build his nine-figure sprawling “compound” on a cliff top overlooking the Pacific? Sierra Club lawyer Dean Wallraff called it “a terrible project which would have caused devastating damage.” After 14 years the CA Supreme Court denied The Edge, and that may be the end of it.


TONIGHT! – DUDAMEL, LA PHIL THE TRISTAN PROJECT: I, II, III” – What a “project”! Returns to LA after 15 years, first time for Dudamel. The music and singing for Wagner’s game changing opera “Tristan und Isolde” in multi-media performance, directed by Peter Sellars, visual director Bill Viola, exploring the ancient tale of star-crossed lovers in all its nuance, starting with that first note. To all star cast of singers. Seems the LA Phil may have saved the best for last this year. No intermission, late arrival will not be seated! Thurs, Fri, Sat, 8 pm, Walt Disney Concert Hall, LA, $64-216.

SOUTHSIDE SLIM – Do you like the blues? Do you like music? Great gruff vocals, tremendous guitar work? Then hallelujah, the treasure that is Southside returns to downtown Santa Monica, and you should jump on the opportunity. You won’t have to drive (or walk) far, a parking structure is next door, the cover charge is ridiculously low for this much talent and the drinks are reasonable and strong. Ask Damian for a Jameson and coke, and one for me. Yes, Happy Holidays to us. Fri 9:30 pm, Harvelle’s, Santa Monica, $10.

X, LOS STRAIGHTJACKETS, THE AVENGERS – Having caught them fairly recently, I think I’m on safe ground to say that, amazingly, X is still a powerful, iconic and relevant LA band, 42 years in. Original lineup! Billy Zoom may be having some health problems because he now perches on a tall stool instead of planting his legs spread wide Chuck Berry-style, but his guitar playing is still spot on. I haven’t seen my favorite surf band, the best surf band ever, Los Straightjackets, for quite a while. They of the Mexican wrestling masks, have gone through some personnel changes, but who can tell with those masks? And I’m betting they’re still the all-instrumental bomb. The Avengers are a legendary San Francisco punk band that called it quits in ’77 after only two years, but they did open The Sex Pistols’ final show and had some songs produced by Pistol Steve Jones. 20 years later they reformed briefly and now play intermittently. Quite a lineup. Fri 7:30 pm, Orpheum Theater, LA, $29-280.

THE HOT CLUB OF LOS ANGELES – Don’t get lazy. It’s just outside Santa Monica, street parking is easy, it’s a friendly little neighborhood bar where you can see and hear everywhere in the tiny room, the sound is great, the stage is maybe a foot high and right next to the patrons, drinks are reasonable and there is no cover. THCOLA plays breakneck, virtuoso 1930s Django-style swing music. You will find it hard to stop smiling all night. Mon 9 pm, Cinema Bar, Culver City, no cover.


TONIGHT! -BILLIE EILISH- I was a little late to the game with Highland Park’s Billie Eilish Pirate Baird O’Connell, not at first considering her singing voice to be remarkable, or even having much range, musically or emotionally. my bad Once I paid a little more attention I discovered exceptional, honest lyrics and a voice full of authenticity. She is in fact exceptional in this area, writing so very honestly about life and love with no sugar coating or excuses. She does things in her own non-conformist way, and you can either come along or find the door. Her first hit song was written when she was 13 (by her brother Finneas: they are a remarkable team). She’s not yet 21 but has headlined six world tours and won at least six Grammys (two more pending), a Golden Globe and an Oscar. Her story is fascinating but all you really need to know is what your ears and heart tell you when she performs. She calls this show”Happier Than Ever, The Hometown Encore.” Thurs, Fri 7:30 pm Kia Forum, Inglewood, $80-150.

STEVIE WONDER House Full of Toys – One of the best concerts I ever saw was Wonder performing his incomparable catalog of great songs. This is the 24th time he’s done this toys benefit (bring an unwrapped toy, please), he usually has some great drop-in guests and it usually sells out. Sat 8pm, Microsoft Theater, LA, $59-160.

DUDAMEL, LA PHIL, Tchaikovsky‘sand Ellington‘s “NUTCRACKER” – Bah! Humbug! recommendation. Holiday spirit is great, people act better around this season than the other 11-½ months and whatever their motivation, I’ll take it. If holiday songs get them in that spirit, bravo. But pretty much your kid’s grade school concert, rarely on key and without fidgeting, has the same uplifting effect as Streisand or the LA Phil. But this is one I might actually be caught dead at. Let me quote the LA Times and their excellent critic Mark Swed from 2013: “The music was ‘irresistible’… ‘re-invigorated.’ It was a rare treat to experience Tchaikovsky’s score treated as the main attraction with nuance and flow.” This time Dudamel conducts the holiday favorite with a twist, when he leads both Tchaikovsky’s original as well as Billy Strayhorn and Duke Ellington’s swinging reimagination of the many colors and drama of the original.” Sat 11 am (sold out), Sun 2 pm (almost sold out), Walt Disney Concert Hall, LA, $214.

MAVERICKS, JD MCPHERSON – The Mavericks won’t knock you out but you will leave their show a fan with a big, lasting smile. Singer Raul Malo is a big reason; few who hear him don’t become instant fans. I checked out a few performance videos of McPherson and I like him, I like him and he’s a good fit as an opener. Sat 8pm, Theater at Ace Hotel, LA, $39-75.

TOLEDO DIAMOND – Unique, riveting, first class act. Just trot your procrastinating carcass down this Sunday night and see what you’ve been missing. Sun 9:30pm, Harvelle’s, Santa Monica, $12.

COMING ATTRACTIONS:TOLEDO DIAMOND, Harvelle’s, 12/25; HOT CLUB OF LOS ANGELES, Cinema Bar, 12/26;ENGLISH BEAT, Bourbon Room, 12/30; NYE: LA PHIL with The ROOTS.

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 [email protected]

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