Thursday, August 31, 2006

Jamie Lidell at the Getty, Friday 9/1, 6 pm

Free, $7 parking. LINK

This is my second post for Lidell, because I think he is so talented. I'm too old to appreciate his techno stuff, but Multiply is an incredible song. It's scheduled until 9 pm, so I would guess that there has to be some kind of opening act. Small picnic baskets are welcome, no alcohol, but you can buy beer and wine there.

Here's the write-up from the Getty:

Groove to the jaw-dropping vocal talent of Jamie Lidell, a boundary-smashing techno master who's shaking up the electonic music scene with a gleefully twisted version of R&B, doo-wop, and disco. Sure, he's got a voice Sly Stone (his hero) might envy, but how many soul greats live-loop their own vocals and create beats by stomping shopping carts full of junk? Don't miss Lidell's "one-man funk tornado"—retro soul with an irreverent attitude, served up in a whirlwind of cinematic, cabaret-inspired showmanship.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Gerald Clayton at Hollywood & Highland, Tuesday 8/29, 7 pm

Free, $2 parking with validation. LINK

If you've attend many jazz concerts - at least the straight-ahead variety - you may reach the conclusion that the average age of the fans is...deceased. There's blue hair everywhere, and lots of widows tilting to the music, reliving earlier times and loves.

It may sound ageist, but it's nice to finally have a jazz pianist with dreads. Maybe it will help attract that younger, under 65 demographic.

For $10 you get two glasses of wine and a salad, and it's a nice place for music. Arrive early if you want to sit.

Yes, this YouTube video is a repeat. Watch it, the kid is incredible:

Saturday, August 26, 2006

This week's highlights: 8/28 - 9/3

For more free events, check the Event Calendar.

Gerald Clayton on piano:

Eric Burdon & the Animals in Woodland Hills, Sunday 8/27, 6 pm

Free, free parking about three blocks away. LINK

Bring sunscreen, picnic baskets, blankets or chairs, dogs.

House of the Rising Sun (1964):

We Gotta Get Out of This Place (1966):

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Jamie Lee Curtis, Bob Newhart, Peter Falk, and Tracey Ullman...

...will be making free book store appearances in the next few months, and details are in the Event Calendar. As you can see, the Tracey Ullman book is actually about knitting. But if you want it autographed, you have to buy it at the store, not from Amazon.

Book signings can be very entertaining. The author usually speaks for a half hour or so and then answers a few questions. The indie stores that host most of these events are Vroman's in Pasadena, Book Soup in West Hollywood and Costa Mesa, and Dutton's in Brentwood and Beverly Hills. Barnes & Noble and Borders have author appearances too, but they make it difficult to find events on their sites.

Around here, the mother of all book events is the L.A. Times Book Festival at UCLA every April.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Whoops, David Grisman performs on Thursday the 31st, NOT the 24th the Santa Monica Pier. Sorry about that!

On the 24th, it's Kiran Ahluwalia, with whom I am unfamiliar.

Kiran Ahluwalia:

Monday, August 21, 2006

Tyler Hilton at the Grove in L.A. on Wednesday 8/23, 7 pm

Free, free parking. LINK

I mean if you can't hate someone just because their named is Tyler Hilton, then what are snap judgements for? When his name first popped up on Launchcast, I didn't wait more than one or two beats to click delete. Besides, I figured he might even be related to her.

But then I saw his very brief performance in Walk the Line as a young Elvis, which was quite good. He also appears on One Tree Hill. Because his voice is an octave below your average boy-band member, he's being compared to John Mayer, but unfortunately he's more Richard Marx. The folks allmusic are skeptical about his future, because Hilton is too MOR, neither hip nor hip hop.

The entire show is scheduled for only an hour, and Hilton shares the bill with Robin Thicke. Don't expect more than four or five tunes.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

This week's highlights: 8/21 to 8/27

For many more freebies, check out the Event Calendar.

Eric Burdon 9/16/66

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Friday Nights at the Getty: Reservations Thursday 8/24 at 9 am

Free, $7 parking.

If you want to see Vashti Bunyan or David Ornette Cherry in September, call (310) 440-7300 Thursday morning.

Tommy Chong in Pasadena, Monday 8/21, 7 pm

Free, free parking. LINK

Tommy Chong wrote The I Chong: Meditations From The Joint about his bust in 2003 and the repercussions for selling drug paraphernalia, mostly water pipes. The Feds busted over fifty others in the same investigations, but Chong was one of the few that received a prison sentence. He agreed to nine months in the joint in return for his wife and son escaping prosecution.

Don't expect any of the old routines because this is a book event, not a club, and besides he's been Cheechless for over 20 years. But Chong has little bitterness toward his prosecutors and persecutors, so it should be fun.

Update: Tommy Chong will be also be selling books, not bongs, at the Westwood Borders on Friday 8/27, at 7 pm.


Friday, August 18, 2006

Inside the Creole Mafia downtown on Saturday 8/19, 8 pm

Free, $5 parking. LINK

Finally, a free play that's not Shakespeare. Inside the Creole Mafia received an L.A. Weekly Theatre Award in 1993, but this will be a post-Katrina version. It's an adult dark comedy, described as a cross between street theatre and Chekhov.

According to Margaret Cho, it is "an original, important, provocative work, and should be seen by everyone. Not just the sexy people."

Thursday, August 17, 2006

ALOUD Series at the Downtown Library, 7 pm

Free, $1 parking with your library card to validate. LINK

Listen to some really interesting people, and even meet them briefly if you are willing to buy their latest book. Make reservations for free tickets, or arrive a little early for standby seats. A few that are coming up in the next couple of months:
  • Annie Leibovitz - photographer of Yoko and John for Rolling Stone, and of Springsteen's butt for Born in the USA.
  • Alexander McCall Smith - author of the the No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency Series.
  • Joseph Stiglitz - 2001 Nobel Prize winner in economics for Globalization and Its Discontinents.
  • Janet Fitch - author of White Oleander.
  • Frank Rich - New York Times columnist and Bush-phobe.
Anjelica Huston will also be making an appearance to introduce Irish novelist Edna O'Brien. For a complete list, check the ALOUD website.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Patti Page in Marina del Rey, Saturday 8/19, 7pm

Free, $5 parking. LINK

Elvis died 29 years ago today. He more or less ended Patti Page's reign at the top of the charts. After Elvis, rock and roll ruled, Elvis was crowned the king, and almost everyone who came before was relegated to the adult contemporary ghetto on the radio dial.

People forget that Presley was a crossover artist, going from country to pop. Even more forgotten is that Patti Page was the first crossover artist, and her Tennessee Waltz was at the top of the pop, country, and blues charts at the same time.

Even though she would never come close to the acclaim she received in the early fiftys, Page has continued to record, earning a Grammy in 1998 for Best Traditional Country Singer. She's recorded over 100 albums, and had over 84 top 40 hits.

Is she still alive? Yeah.

Tennesse Waltz:

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Music on Melrose every Sunday at the Gig

From an email:

A free showcase, every Sunday night at The Gig (7302 Melrose Ave 90046), from August 20th -November 12th. Featuring an eclectic lineup of performers over a thirteen week period, The Platform is FREE to those 21+. 100% Voluntary donations will be collected at the door for AIDS Project Los Angeles ( and Asians for Miracle Marrow Matches (

Check out or for more details.

I don't usually cover this kind of stuff, because it's not really "free," it's a no-cover benefit. I think it would be bad form to show up and to not donate and buy drinks. You could sign up for the bone marrow donation program though. Last year at the Tofu Festival, the only open table I could find was at the bone marrow donation booth. The next thing I knew, they were taking a blood sample, and now maybe I get to save someone's life.

Monday, August 14, 2006

"Mathemagician" Arthur Benjamin in Encino, Thursday 8/17, 7:30 pm

Free, with free parking. LINK

Here is something you can do for your inner geek. Dr. Arthur Benjamin is a regular Hollywood Magic Castle performer, as well as a professor at Harvey Mudd College. His show consists of seemingly impossible lightning calculations - much faster than using a calculator - and other feats such as memorizing 100 digit numbers. It's a lot more entertaining than it sounds, good for kids, but keep in mind that he wows them at the Magic Castle, where you must be at least 21 to get in.

He's hoping you will buy his new book, which was just released last week. Like most magic books, Secrets of Mental Math won't really enable you to do much unless you work at it. The book is co-written by Michael Shermer, who otherwise tells the truth about Uri Geller and the rest of those thieves.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

This week's highlights: 8/14 to 8/20

Free events Monday through Sunday. For a complete list, see the Event Calendar.

A freebie I missed: LA Tofu Festival

I just came back from the LA Tofu Festival, where I pigged out on meatball sandwich, pad thai, teriyaki tofu, lobster balls, and tofu ice cream - well worth the $7 admission and $14 for food. But it turns out that they have a free admission coupon every year in the L.A. Times.

I'll keep a look out next year, and keep you informed.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Malibu's hidden beaches

I'm not sure if a beach should be classified as "free entertainment," but I know where I'm going for my next dip in the Pacific. Jenny Price, blogging at LA Observed subsite Native Intelligence, provides user-friendly instructions on how to access supposedly inaccessible Malibu Beaches.

She includes useful hints on how to deal with the private guards hired by homeowners to scare you away. Her best bit of advice: Bring the Coastal Commission's phone number with you.

Friday, August 11, 2006

Jamie Lidell at the Getty, Friday 9/1, 6 pm

Free, $7 parking. LINK

I've never previewed a show this far in advance before, but I've still got Al Green on the brain from his show at the Bowl nine days ago. And at least on his biggest hit, Multiply, a comparison to Green is legitimate. Supposedly he patterned himself more after Sly Stone, but I don't hear it.

Here's the write-up from the Getty:

Groove to the jaw-dropping vocal talent of Jamie Liddell, a boundary-smashing techno master who's shaking up the electonic music scene with a gleefully twisted version of R&B, doo-wop, and disco. Sure, he's got a voice Sly Stone (his hero) might envy, but how many soul greats live-loop their own vocals and create beats by stomping shopping carts full of junk? Don't miss Liddell's "one-man funk tornado"—retro soul with an irreverent attitude, served up in a whirlwind of cinematic, cabaret-inspired showmanship.

Yes, just like about 20% of the Google-universe, they misspelled his name.


Thursday, August 10, 2006

Trout Fishing in America at the Getty, Sat. & Sun 8/12 & 8/13, 4 pm

Free, $7 parking. LINK

TFIA is a Grammy nominated duo that specializes in performing songs from the point of view of a six year old. They've been called the Lennon & McCartney of children's music, and compared accurately with the Smothers Brothers. And they can flat out sing and play.

Bring food, drink (no alcohol), and sunscreen, or you can purchase food and wine there if you want. Come a little early or stay a little late, and let the kiddies peruse the Rubens exhibition. See, we're not so fat after all.

Listen to Morning Edition's story on Trout Fishing in America.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Stephen Bishop in Woodland Hills, Sunday 8/13, 6 pm

Free, free parking if you are willing to walk. LINK

His hits included On and On, Save It for a Rainy Day, and It Might Be You - the theme song from Tootsie.

And last but not least, in Animal House, when Belushi grabbed the guitar and smashed it, the victim was Stephen Bishop. He still has the guitar.

It Might Be You:

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Free* tickets for Boz Scaggs at the Wiltern, Wednesday 8/9, 8 pm

The * means there is a catch.

It's a Goldstar event. That means that you have to pay $7 per ticket as a service charge. Still, it seems like a pretty good deal, if you are a fan.

Lido Shuffle:

Monday, August 07, 2006

Anna Nalick at the Grove in Hollywood, Wednesday 8/9, 7 pm

Free, $2 parking. LINK

Recently, Nalick has opened for Chris Isaak and the Dixie Chicks. It's a store appearance, so it may be a short set.

Rolling Stone's review of Wreck of the Day:

Twenty-year-old Cali cutie Anna Nalick has a strong voice that summons comparisons to Fiona Apple and Alanis Morissette, and her songwriting has enough depth to be taken seriously but is light enough to make it on the radio. Wreck of the Day, her eleven-song debut, never quite leaves the coffee shop, stylistically -- guitars are strummed, not crunched; drums are brushed, never pounded. "Breathe (2 am)" is the obvious hit here, keyboards ebbing and flowing, creating a beautiful melancholy as Nalick shows off her smoke-tinged voice and precocious lyrics. "You can tell he's been down for a while/But, my God, it's so beautiful when the boy smiles," she sings as strings swell. "Want to hold him/Maybe I'll just sing about it." She should certainly keep doing the latter.

Breathe (2AM):

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Luis Conte at Hollywood & Highland, Tuesday 8/8, 7 pm

Free, $2 parking with validation. LINK

As a percussionist and Afro-Latin band leader, Luis Conte works all the time; his list of credits at allmusic is about 800 long, including recordings with Eric Clapton, Madonna, and Ray Charles. And he's backed performers who are known for being obsessive about percussion, like Phil Collins and Santana (on Supernatural).

He even has an instructional DVD called The Studio Percussionist, so that you too can get studio gigs playing the congas. But first you should take his online lessons. Guess he knows his stuff.

For $10, you get two glasses of wine from Jekel Winery, and a small salad. All of the proceeds go to Project Angel Food.

A long solo backing Phil Collins:

This week's highlights: 8/8 to 8/14

Here are a few free events for the coming week, Tue-Mon. For a complete list, check the Event Calendar.
  • Percussionist's percussionist, Luis Conte at Hollywood & Highland on Tuesday at 7 pm.
  • Men at Work's Colin Hay in Newport Beach on Wednesday at 7 pm.
  • Opener for the Dixie Chicks and Chris Isaak, Anna Nalick at the Grove in Hollywood on Wednesday at 7pm.
  • Afro-pop from Salif Keita at the Santa Monica Pier on Thursday at 7:30 pm.
  • Jazz singer Barbara Morrison in Pasadena on Friday at 9 pm.
  • The SloMo Video Festival at the Hammer Museum on Saturday at 8 pm.
  • For the kids, Trout Fishing in America at the Getty on Saturday and Sunday at 4 pm.
  • Stephen Bishop sings on and on in Woodland Hills on Sunday at 6 pm.
Salif Keita:

Friday, August 04, 2006

Drum Downtown at the Music Center, Saturday 8/5, 10 am

Free, parking $8. LINK

According to Grateful Dead drummer Mickey Hart:

The Drum Circle is a huge jam session. The ultimate goal is not precise rhythmic articulation or perfection of patterned structure, but the ability to entrain and reach the state of a group mind. It is built on cooperation in the groove, but with little reference to any classic styles. So this is a work in constant progress, a phenomenon of the new rhythm culture emerging here in the West.

Entrain is a word most commonly used in chemistry. I understand that several of the Dead were very knowledgeable about chemistry.

All ages are welcome. Percussion instruments will be provided, or bring your own. And if you can't get enough, over the next week, drum maker Remo is hosting three other drum circles in North Hollywood.

It turns out that drum circles are something of a business opportunity. Their are drum makers who promote them for obvious reasons, drum circle facilitation training, paid performance gigs, and even corporate teambuilding contracts to be had. And drumming in general is now being promoted as a way to help achieve health and well-being.

Drum circle with dancing:

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

What I'm paying to see tonight, 8/2

Al Green and Lizz Wright at the Bowl. Tickets prices range from $1 to $120, but the least expensive tickets now available are $16.

My advice is to never go to the Hollywood Bowl on the first day of general public sales in May. I tried it one year, arrived about 8:30 am, and didn't get my tickets until about 5 pm. And I got shut out on some tickets I wanted.

Subscribers get first shot at Hollywood Bowl tickets. I chose not to subscribe, but what I did do was buy 40 tickets almost a month before the general public, through the Encore program. HB customer service told me it was impossible unless I subscribed, but I got the tickets online anyway.

And I paid only fifty cents per ticket to Ticketmaster. Assuming they hide the program for non-subscribers again next year, I'll provide links next April.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

The Platters in Woodland Hills, Sunday 8/6, 6pm

Free, with free parking if you are willing to walk. LINK

Do you think any of the smiling faces in the above photo look old enough to have recorded Only You or The Great Pretender fifty-one years ago? Me neither. Like a lot of groups from the oldies era, there have been multiple versions of the Platters touring simultaneously. After all of the lawsuits, injunctions, and non-competes, when you are watching a live performance from a group this ancient, you are basically watching a tribute band.

The Great Pretender:

Film: Strange Fruit with director Joel Katz at California Plaza, Sunday 8/6, 8 pm

Free, parking $5. LINK

Director Joel Katz presents his short documentary, which was previously aired on PBS, and presumably takes questions afterward. It was well reviewed, but I haven's seen it, so I'll rely on the Grand Perfromances writeup:

Strange Fruit masterfully combines history, biography, and jazz music. The film traces the genesis of the now –famous, haunting lyrics sung by jazz giant Billie Holiday. Originally written as a poem by Bronx-born school teacher-Abel Merepol, it becomes even more poignant knowing that the writer was Jewish. The history of the words, the song, jazz and the sad stain of black lynching in the American South makes it a must see for everyone.

"Southern trees bear a strange fruit,
Blood on the leaves and blood at the root,
Black bodies swinging in the Southern breeze,
Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees.

Pastoral scene of the gallant south,
The bulging eyes and the twisted mouth,
Scent of magnolias, sweet and fresh,
Then the sudden smell of burning flesh.

Here is fruit for the crows to pluck,
For the rain to gather, for the wind to suck,
For the sun to rot, for the trees to drop,
Here is a strange and bitter crop."

- music and lyric by Abel Meeropol

Billie Holiday sings Strange Fruit:

Free TV Tickets

I don't post about TV tickets, but this site seems to be a good place to start.