Hall, the L.A. Philharmonic and the Master Chorale may be the most talked
about music experiences on the planet -- but they are still only part
of Los Angeles' music scene. For music lovers, L.A. has it all -- from
grand opera to gospel brunch -- with plenty of alternative club music,
salsa and blues all around town.
With the L.A. Philharmonic and the Master Chorale settled at Disney Hall,
the Los Angeles Opera is now the main attraction at the Dorothy Chandler
Pavilion across First Street. Taking advantage of that, this year their
season expands from 58 performances to 69. Overseen by General Director
Placido Domingo, productions include "Lucia di Lammermoor,"
"Orfeo ed Euridice," "Madama Butterfly," and "Il
trovatore." The Pavilion is also scheduled to host dance performances.
Free chamber music concerts are a popular mainstay of LACMA's (Los Angeles
County Museum of Art) music schedule. Held on Sundays at 6 p.m. in the
museum's Bing Auditorium, many museum goers settle in following an afternoon
of seeing the exhibits.
REDCAT (Roy and Edna Disney Cal Arts Theatre) is being called the un-Disney
Hall -- although it is part of the Disney Hall complex. Located at Hope
and Second streets, on the back side of the big hall and opening just
after the Disney, REDCAT is L.A.'s new home for cutting edge performing
arts. The inaugural season includes nights devoted to electronic music
composer Morton Subotnick, Balinese gamelan, post-minimalist composer
Gavin Bryars, festival of Persian and Indian music, and Bach and the Avant-Garde.
UCLA Live brings top name performing artists from all over the world
to the UCLA campus, primarily historic Royce Hall. This year's schedule
includes the St. Petersburg Capella Choir, Itzhak Perlman and the Kronos
Quartet. Classical music is only part of the story here: other events
feature Willie Nelson, the Blind Boys of Alabama, Omara Portuando (of
Buena Vista Social Club fame) and the Cajun band BeauSoleil.
Across town, USC's campus hosts concerts in Bovard Auditorium and the
Alfred Newman Recital Hall. On tap this season: Wynton Marsalis, Lila
Downs and the Emerson String Quartet.
L.A. is home to several other large concert halls with ambitious 2003-2004
lineups. At Pepperdine University Center for the Arts in Malibu (with
a spectacular view overlooking the Pacific), this year's list includes
string and jazz quartets, Art Garfunkel, Steve Tyrell, Herman's Hermits
and a celebration of John Lennon. Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts
in Cerritos (south end of L.A.) promises mellow evenings with the Ramsey
Lewis Trio, Jack Jones and not-so-mellow ones with Arturo Sandoval and
Doc Watson. Universal Amphitheater near Universal CityWalk is another
top venue with headliners this year including ranchera king Vicente Fernandez
and Brian Setzer Orchestra, an 18-piece big band.
The Wiltern, one of L.A.'s art deco landmarks (look for the green patina-ed
exterior) at the corner of Wilshire Blvd. and Western Ave. has been refurbished
to serve as a concert venue. Upcoming shows include Peter Frampton, the
Deftones, Bela Fleck and the Flecktones.
Avalon Hollywood is the new kid on the block. This is the highly-anticipated
resurrection of the famed Hollywood Palace Theater site near Hollywood
The Club Scene?
L.A. may be one of the hippest club spots in the world. Hollywood and
West Hollywood boast dozens of hipster and celeb hangouts that attract
the buzz-y new bands and singers as well as the music world's immortals.
Clubs-of-the-moment (both live music and DJ driven): the Havana-inspired
Nacional; Medieval-looking A.D. (hip hop); Euro-Asian White Lotus; the
eclectic Highlands atop the new Hollywood & Highland complex; and
Knitting Factory, a cutting-edge music club.
House of Blues Sunset Strip, the funkiest looking bayou shack west of
the Mississippi, is home to an unforgettable Sunday Gospel Brunch with
a different local gospel choir performing each week. At other times, catch
Etta James or Maxi Priest.
The Viper Room on Sunset Strip club has managed to defy the short shelf
life of top clubs in L.A. Maybe it has to do with Johnny Depp being a
co-owner. This spot keeps hopping with intimate live music, poetry readings
and a revolving celebrity clientele.
Three Sunset Strip clubs define the history of rock, classics that never
die: the Whisky; The Roxy and the Troubadour.
In Downtown L.A., Rooftop Bar at the Standard draws a cool crowd who
dance under the stars. At 14 Below in Santa Monica, find live bands from
rock and metal to blues. Spaceland in Silver Lake is a favorite with local
rock underground bands and fans. Beck, The White Stripes and Black Eyed
Peas have performed there.
The Pacific Design In the San Fernando Valley, favorite clubs include
Cozy's Bar & Grill in Sherman Oaks for blues lovers; The Thunderbird
in the hip NoHo section of North Hollywood for live rock, blues and country;
Paladino's in Tarzana for a mix of jazz, blues and more. Also check out
Mama Juana's in Studio City for salsa, mariachi, flamenco and rumba. Kulak's
Woodshed in North Hollywood is one of the tinier, funkier clubs around
and focuses on singer/songwriter acoustic music with an occasional biggish
name stopping by.
Catalina Bar & Grill closes out decades of showcasing the premier
names in jazz at its cozy club in Vine Street on Nov. 2. But that's only
so the Hollywood institution can move to a new location at Sunset and
Highland, still in Hollywood. They expect to open there Nov. 6.
B.B. King's Blues Club in Universal City is a three-story club with an
eclectic schedule (R & B, funk, dance bands) and "the man"
himself turns up occasionally to play a set.
Babe's & Ricky's Inn in Leimert Park, south of downtown tops most
"favorite blues club" polls. For almost 30 years Mama Laura
Mae Gross has seen the biggest names (Big Mama Thornton, Count Basie,
Albert King, John Lee Hooker) perform in her club while still showcasing
Fais Do-Do, housed in a former bank building in the West Adams district
has a wildly diverse approach: blues, funk, jazz and world, all in an
The Conga Room in the Miracle Mile neighborhood, is serious about salsa
music and has hosted all the top names (Poncho Sanchez, the late Celia
Cruz). But an occasional Brazilian samba night sneaks in.
McCabe's Guitar Shop in Santa Monica has a small performance space in
the back room of the store and the tiniest stage that has seen top stars
(Ricky Skaggs, Emmylou Harris, Arlo Guthrie) as well as jug bands, ukelele
nights, bluegrass and folkies -- often to sell-out crowds.
If karaoke is your thing, head to Farmers Market on Saturday nights.
At this historic outdoor market, the best karaoke shows in town sets up
on one of the market's outdoor patios. Local club owners often stop by
to scout talent.
Feinstein's at the Cinegrill is in the heart of Hollywood. Singer/pianist
Michael Feinstein recently renovated this supper club in the historic
Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, reviving a cabaret tradition that goes back
to Tinseltown's early days. He plays here often, and when he's not, books
top lounge singers (upcoming: Keely Smith, Dixie Carter) who favor the