L.A. Insights: Music Highlights during PDC

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The Los Angeles music scene may not be as cohesive as when jazz clubs lined Central Avenue in the 1940s or when Axl and friends emerged as the kings of the Sunset Strip in the 1980s – but there are always a huge number of live events going on, from classical to hip-hop to country to rock to bebop.  We’ve picked out some downtown-centric music highlights for the week of the PDC.

For a gold-plated experience, you could head up Bunker Hill to the Frank Gehry-designed Disney Concert Hall.  Living jazz legend Dave Brubeck will be appearing with his quartet on Sunday; and on Wednesday, bossa-nova icon Milton Nascimento will be singing with the Jobim Trio, which lists the son and grandson of the immortal Antonio Carlos Jobim among its members.  You could also head to Disney’s smaller Redcat Theater, which tends to program avant-garde artists – on Wednesday, experimental musician Meredith Monk will unveil an “immersive theatrical environment” that will use a choir, vocal ensembles, a string quartet, percussionists, and visual elements to represent various religious states.  For one of the best bargains in the pricey world of high culture, stop in at the prestigious conservatory known as the Colburn School--on Sunday night, two of the faculty pianists will be giving a joint recital, which is free as long as you request tickets in advance.

If all of this sounds too highfalutin, consider the rugged DIY punk club known as The Smell.  They don’t serve alcohol, but admission is usually just $5-10 dollars, and they’ll be having a full slate of acts on Sunday, Monday, and Wednesday.  You also might head over to Redwood Bar and Grill, which books local indie rock acts most nights.  If you’d prefer hearing inexpensive live jazz, head over to 7 Grand, which has free local performers after 10 PM on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays.  You could also try Little Tokyo’s 2nd Street Jazz Bar, where you can hear young, local players for the cost of a 2-drink minimum at the bar, or a small cover at tables – Wednesday is DJ night, where everything from rare groove to electronica might be heard.

For higher-profile concerts, you’ll have to get on the subway.  (Staples Center and the newcomer Nokia Theater, the two biggest downtown venues, aren’t having concerts early in the week).  At the turquoise, art-deco theater known as the Wiltern in Koreatown, indie rockers Against Me! will headline on Tuesday. 

Over in Hollywood, the Hotel Cafe has become an important venue for upcoming folk and singer/songwiter types to get noticed, and has inexpensive shows 7 nights a week.  The Knitting Factory Hollywood will be featuring a variety of acts, including the metal festival Appease the Beast 2 on Sunday and a Latin hip-hop showcase on Wednesday.  The Catalina Jazz Club is one of the two most prestigious jazz clubs in the city.  They’ll be featuring a variety of second-tier players throughout the week, except for Sunday, when the outstanding chanteuse Tierney Sutton will be appearing.  And since no price is better than free, keep your eyes on the Amoeba Records calendar of in-store performances – it’s standing room only, but a great way to catch up with an unknown up-and-comer or an established star.

Disney Concert Hall, including the Redcat
Dave Brubeck Quartet ($36-99)
Milton Nascimento with Jobim Trio ($36-89)
Meredith Monk and Ann Hamilton ($30)
Heewon Kwon and Jeffrey Lavner recital at Colburn School (free)
(Take the red or purple lines to “Civic Center,” and walk uphill on Temple to Grand; to avoid the climb, take DASH Bus Route B)

The Smell (typically $5-10)
(Take the red or purple lines to “Civic Center”; walk south on Hill St. until you reach 2nd St. make a left and walk east for 2 ½ blocks until you pass an alley just west of Main St. the Smell entrance located in the alley, just north of 2nd).

Redwood Bar and Grill (cover charge: $0-$5)
(Take the red or purple lines to “Civic Center”; walk south on Hill St. until you reach 2nd St. make a left until you hit 316 W. 2nd)

7 Grand (music free)
(Blue, red, or purple line to 7th St./Metro Center; walk three blocks east to 515 7th St.)

The Wiltern (Against Me! $25 general admission)
(Purple line to Wilshire and Western)

2nd Street Jazz ($10 at tables, or 2-drink minimum sitting at bar)
(Red line to Civic Center; or DASH bus “Route A,” but only up until 6:30 P.M).

Knitting Factory (tickets $5-40)
Catalina Jazz Club ($10-40, plus 2-drink minimum; please note that even pedestrians enter through the parking garage behind the club, which looks like an office building from outside)
(Red line to Hollywood and Highland).

Hotel Cafe (tickets typically $10-15)
Amoeba Records (free)
(Red line to Sunset and Vine).

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