- JANUARY 2013 -

Other Fein Messes
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Elvis Show ....

Here is the full lineup for Elvis, as of tonight

27th Annual Elvis Birthday Bash

Jan 8, Echo, Upstairs : 1822 W. Sunset, 6 - 12 midnight.

$20, money goes to LA Mission charity.

All fun, no impersonators.

Host Art Fein and Ronnie Mack

So far, appearing -

Karling Abbeygate, Jimmy Angel, Ray Campi, Church Keys, Count Smokula, Justin Curtis, Dick Deluxe,, Joe Finkle, Lisa Finnie, Freya, Groovy Rednecks, Skip Heller, Clive Kennedy, Adam Lopez, Rip Masters, John McDuffie, Alias Means, South Bay Surfers, Steve Stanley ,Syd Straw, Darrin Stout, the Vargas Family, Troy Walker, and more.

and the Elvis All Star Band - Marty Rifkin, Harry Orlov, Skip Edwards, Paul Marshall, Dave Raven.

The Echo, upstairs on Sunset, 6 pm to midnight.
$20 admission goes to L.A. Mission.
No impersonators, just cool people.

Another Fein Mess
AF Stone’s Monthly
January 2013

Mario Boni

I have a daughter, and she’s my all.
Still, I would’ve liked a son also.

Then I got one. My old girlfriend’s third child, her only boy. She said “My husband’s the father, but he’s your kid.” Wild about music, couldn’t get enough of it.

Mario moved here from North Carolina in 2011 when he was 21. He set up a recording studio in his apartment and made many friends and earned a reputation as a savvy musician and producer.

Last summer I showed him my hand-cranked portable 78 player. When I explained that it came with a box of 100 needles because they needed to be changed after each play, he flipped. When he heard the sound that came from this old music box he lit up. I made a mental note that he should get it when I die.

Another time, when he came over to borrow my small accordion, I also opened the large 1920’s one and was stunned to see what I had forgotten: the original owner’s name MARIO spelled out in rhinestones. This time I put a real note in the case, willing it to him.

But December 27th, in North Carolina, driving to get ice cream, he hit another car head-on and was killed.

My heart’s ache is a sliver of his parents’ pain, but it’s deep. We loved him so much.

That the small accordion now comes back to me is a grotesque reversal of the natural order of things.

‘Round Town ...

Ray Campi heats up the crowd.

Dec 3 The penultimate Ronnie Mack Barn Dance at Joe’s in Burbank featured the no longer kidlike Collins Kids, a gift from Ronnie to the roots music community. (Ronnie charges nothing to get in, and laid out plenty of bucks, thousands, to bring them in.) They were ragged but everyone had the time of their life. Dave & Deke, who have backed them many times, shone, too, in their performance.

Dec 13 Went to the Writers Bloc talk by Calvin Trillin and Paula Poundstone in Bev Hills. I was the last book buyer getting Trillin’s signature and asked a helper to take my pic. I wanted her to shoot me in silhouette as he wrote, but the gal said “No, stand beside him.” I waved off this presumptuous idea but she kept waving so I got next to him, apologized for the intrusion and looked at the camera. “No, Calvin, you look up too!” the helpful one said and though he ignored her and I said “Just take it, please” she pestered him til he did. The pic is not included here, but if you want a picture of me standing next to Calvin Trillin looking like he wants to kill someone I’ll send it to ya.

Dec 16 Went to Upland, 45 miles east of Hollywood, to see Fred Willard in his wife Mary’s play “A Holly Jolly Christmas Carol.” Many yuks.

Dec 19 A famed music journalist plopped down on my living room couch for another extended stay, in town to confer with Lita Ford for her forthcoming autobiography.

Dec 22 Writers Bloc offered a free screening of “Les Miserables” at the Pacific Design Center, so we got to the 1:00 event at 12:30. It was already full.

Dec 25 Went with gf Diane to George and Bernadette Wendt’s annual Xmas gathering for the spurned of society - actors and comedians. On hand were Tom Tully, Danny Breen, Paul Wilson, Skip Heller and more.

Dec 29 Went to see the greatest show on earth, Chuck E. Weiss & the Goddam Liars. At the Piano Bar.


My tan detached Apple keyboard hails from the pre-teen years of the 21st century. Its keys taper up undramatically, like an Incan pyramid so each stroke is tangible. When I went to get a new one, I was told all being sold now are flat surface black keys on polished metal. This hard-strike cushionless method stinks. You model the portable after the desktop, not vice versa ... Silver Lining Playbook, the touted movie about mental illness, gives credit to its Product Placement sojourners. ‘Jeopardy’ seems to have a growing number of product categories. For example, “Marie Osmond lost 30 pounds on WHAT diet plan?” In time, greed infects all aspects of life ... Cirque du Soleil’s current run of “Iris” closed at Hollywood Highland’s once-Kodak theater in December. The recession, ticket prices, location - many theories exist for its failure to draw a substantial audience. Why didn’t they book in “All You Need Is Love,” the Beatles show? It has an easily understood concept. I still don’t know what an Iris show is about. Eye health? Flowers? A street in Hollywood? ... Is everything for sale? The space shuttle that flew so proudly over LA before docking here was pulled down LA streets by a Toyota truck. Or so the ad says. There’s no question Toyota bid the highest for the privilege. USA! USA!


Roger Daltry, on the Hurricane Sandy show, clearly has had cosmetic surgery. His chest skin was taut and evenly muscled over his forward-rounded trunk. I believe Botox was involved. Or he was wearing a prosthetic ... When a friend of mine met Bill Clinton, he gave him a copy of a 1959 KAAY Little Rock, Arkansas, music survey. Clinton lit up, remembering the station and the songs. KAAY made it to Chicago, where I lived, as did WBZ from Boston and Randy’s Record Shop from Gallatin, Tennessee and KDKA from Oklahoma City 1 . When I was in college in Colorado, FM rock emerged and that supplanted AM for me (although I sometimes drove up the mountainside to listen to Ken Nordine‘s 7:30 shows from Chicago) ... “Tea For Two” is a challenge for a duet, as faced by Louis & Keely. The line “a boy for you, a girl for me” can only be sung by one person. In theirs she sang the first and he the second, seemingly granting him custody of both ... I don’t own any record albums. I had one, Rusty In Orchestraville, a long time ago, an actual album that told a story that had a beginning and end. ‘Album’ referred to the binder that held five or six 78 rpm records. It was a folio - could have been called a scrapbook 2 ... Something I learned on an iPod playback of a previously unheard Dinah Washington song: the melody and arrangement of “Baby Don’t You Hear” was used in ‘How the West Was Won,’ credited to Alfred Newman ... Watching “Who Is Harry Kellerman and Why Is He Saying Terrible Things About Me?” (I own what may be the only VHS copy of this), the crowd below anticipates him leaping from a ledge and we hear the sound of steel drums. The camera looks down and there’s a guy with drumsticks and a regular drum. The script probably called for steel drums and the prop guy said “That Buddy Rich set has metal rims, that must be what they mean.”

1 They advertised Spider & The Crabs concerts at various armories and gyms. That band became the American Breed.

2 UK albums had 14 songs. In the mid ‘60s American labels reduced ours from 12 to 10. How I miss record companies.


I left the Beatles at the White album, though now I have all their stuff on digital. Stray cuts arise on the iPod that got scant airplay. When I heard “When I Get Home” I recognized Lennon’s voice and had no memory of the song. Solo stuff? Oh, from the hodgepodge album “Something New.” 3 Nice song, but not one that plays in the malls.

But wait. I’m at the gym and “You Know My Name Look Up the Number” comes up on the iPod. God damn, what was the MATTER with them releasing that? It sounds like an outtake from the Monkees movie ‘Head.’ Even as a flipside it’s junk.

3 Their first UK album was Please Please Me. Recently an anointed person chose it as one of 101 vinyl albums that made a difference between 1964 and 1980. But the writer is an American - how was anyone supposed to get an English album in 1964? Live in LA or New York? Subscribe to Melody Maker? Many of the cuts on that LP came out here in 1963 on Vee Jay, but to say that Meet The Beatles, whatever its weak cuts, did not make a difference to Americans ...


I love “The Taking of Pelham 1-2-3.” The original, of course. When I glanced at the newie I got seasick. I remember the long still shot of Walter Matthau as he negotiated with Robert Shaw. The guy filming Jamie Foxx in the new one was on roller skates, the camera kept moving left and right as he spoke. Why? So we don’t get bored looking at the actor? ... In ‘Stan Helsing,’ a sci-fi parody, I detected an unspoken joke. The video store employee finds the monster in the third stall in the ladies room. The joke? A video store bathroom with three stalls ... Ever notice when a person in a movie is holding a huge bunch of gift boxes they’re not stooped over and the boxes are not wobbling dangerously? They’re empty! I can’t suspend my disbelief. Load those babies ...

R&R Hall of fame

Another swell year from the confederacy of dunces. Procol Harum misses the boat again. Their “Salty Dog” and “Shine On Brightly” albums were aces, but how would the voting block(heads) know? With Procol on the ballot, at least all of my votes this year weren’t write-ins. Leonard Cohen in, Freddy Cannon not nominated? Then put Freddy in the Poet’s Hall, it’s as apt.

Also, long ago when the Mamas and Papas were sworn in (because they ROCK), John Phillips thanked Glen Campbell for playing the intro to ‘California Dreamin.’ That intro, on both Barry McGuire’s original version and the M&P’s, was played by P.F. Sloan, not Campbell.


I normally run blindly with the blindly ageless, but seeing Rod Stewart sing Christmas songs on a tv special with David Foster rocked me out of my dream world.

Rod wore a white shirt and tie beneath a checkered sport coat, and slacks. But for the rooster haircut he could have been Michael Buble - who was also on the show!

Wait. Our Rod, with Buble 4? Rod, the raspy crowing-cock rocker who knocked me off my feet in 1971 with the “Every Picture Tells A Story” album? That record floored young me, though I was old enough to vote.

Music helps us prolong the illusion of youth, or so we think. (“What you mean WE, white man?” 5) I’ve watched Jerry Lee Lewis and Little Richard rock til their last breath, and have taken this behavior as exemplary.

Rod and Foster are WAY grown up, in their 60s. They’re taking stock of their lives. Making plans to greet The Reaper.

Perhaps I should embrace them.

I was in my 30s when my girlfriend’s mother firmly put the kibosh on us because I wore jeans with torn knees. What cared I? I was in LA in a rock & roll life.

When 5 years ago I continued wearing a pair of jeans that sprouted a knee hole, my daughter put her foot down. Two different generations of women fought my Peter Panity. But I kept wearing them til I saw another man like me.

It made me recoil in horror and I got them patched.

4 When your name is boo-blay, you can’t have had a great childhood. Each time you hear your name you must cringe.
Makes “feen?” a walk in the park. When I think of the worst names I ever heard, I usually settle on the car dealer who opened across the street from my downtown apartment in Boulder in 1969 - Brose Bouble, pronounced booble. HOW did the Boubles settle on Brose? The Canadian Bubles must have hammered that accent aigu onto every document, to lessen the mockery. But it would be impossible to remove it entirely.

5 These days when I say “What you mean we, white man?” it draws a blank. It’s what Tonto said to the Lone Ranger after he said “We’re surrounded by Indians, Tonto.”

Speaking of which

I am alone in this. When speaking, if I hear a loud sound - a door slam, a dog bark - I repeat the word. I do not talk uninterruptedly over explosions. It’s a carryover from the tv show ... Cop on tv: “That’s the way suspects gain victims’
trust.” Not suspects - robbers, killers, kidnappers - crooks! ... Stewart on the Daily show: “Listen to how he commentates.” He means ‘comments.’ And “replicate” 6 has now replaced “duplicate” ... “Bemused” means confused, stupefied. We are not amused by its misuse ... A World War II vet said he was introduced at a school as a veteran of ‘World War Eleven’ ... A local news-child described Dec 7 as “the day we celebrate the bombing of Pearl Harbor” ... Let’s use quadressential for lesser issues ... The coin being sold on tv has 14 kt gold “on the obverse.” Why not say ‘face,’ since obverse is the opposite of the reverse ... A tv newsman referred to “the prophet Muhammad.” Afraid of Muslims? Other newsreaders don’t preface Jesus with “the lord god” ... Epidemic in the plague of overelaboration is “and counting.” Christmas is in 12 days. Period. But it’s undodgeable as “At the end of the day” ... A history show said Paul Revere hollered “The British Are Coming.” No, in 1775 we were all British. It was “redcoats” ... A 50’s docu narrator says “Paranoia spread about an atomic attack.” Unreasonable fear of a nonexistent threat? Hardly ... Also from History tv, the ancient ruler “encouraged farmers to be proactive.” I doubt that was his exact word.

6 “Replication,” in my 20th century American College Dictionary, is ‘a reply to an answer,’ and replicate is “turning back on itself.” It got a new meaning by losing its base.

- in the wind

I sometimes spring this wordplay on people -- “Joe had the queer idea to eat before we got to the play, so I gave him his head. In fact, I blew him.” All reasonable English phrases, queer being queer, give someone their head being letting them have their way, blow meaning pay for.

Not long ago I sprung that ‘blow’ on my omnivorous-reading gf Diane and she said she never heard of it. Then that week she saw it in a book. And of course, you can blow your salary on a date, and blow town or your top. Is that the end?

In the song “I’m Alright, Jack,” from the British movie, Al Saxon shouts - “Blow you, Jack, I’m alright.”

If it meant “To hell with you, I’m taken care of” I understand, but then the movie title is woefully short. I consulted my UK thesaurusist and this is what he wrote:

Your interpretation of "blow you, Jack" is spot on . . . it means exactly that: "to hell with you".
No sexual connotation . . . and none in the UK expression "blow me!" - which is merely and exclamation of surprise.
If you blow off, you break wind.
And, by coincidence, I watched the movie "Blow Up" the other night.
I was always amused by the title of Joan Baez's album "I'm Blowing Away" (1977)
As for me, I've been blowing hot and cold lately.

These are the Times of L.A.

We stoop low to boost. Front page of the 11-10 LATimes “Studios eye a happy holiday box office.” This startling news, that movie companies hope to make money, posits that if box office receipts are high, then the movie studios will be happy. (On the front page, did I say that?) Breaking news ... Lauren Beale celebrates the art of “house flipping.” by people who buy distressed homes and jack up the price. From Beale’s enthusiasm about this practice I can only assume hundreds of jobs are being created, hence this front-page celebration with a picture of a house-flipper, bless her ... 11-22 Huge page 2 hed ”Suspect arrested in Brooklyn killings,” Tina Susman keeping us up to date, nearly daily, about local issues in New York, where we all live (don’t we?) ... The Rolling Stones’ live show in London was so important to us 11-27 that the Times sent Mikael Wood to the internet to report what attendees said about it. Did they wear dresses? Sing the Tony Bennett songbook? Who cares which of their own songs they did? Were no musicians playing in LA that night? ... When Citibank lays off workers the paper touts it in north-of-neutral terms as “a cost-cutting measure.” Like an insurance company raising rates to “improve profits.” What’s to complain about? ... 11-29 “A dramatic step forward for women” is the crusading headline about half of the director-award nods going to women -- at Sundance. Boy, it sure must have been a fight to get that notoriously conservative and anti-women outfit to go girl-crazy. The odds are as bad as PBS choosing Ken Burns to make a documentary ... Burying the lead. A tiny item in the 11-26 L.A. Times Briefs reports a crash in which a teen girl was killed and the driver injured. That the girl was wearing a seatbelt and the driver not should have been bannered as news: “Seatbelt fails to save passenger, driver saved by ejection from car.” It’s an ironic reversal of expectations - news - but not PC.


Fan that I’m of the Comedy Central 11 pm axis, Colbert rubs me often wrong. The egomaniacal preening is the character, but increasingly his show is a forum for selling. The flogging of his books wore thin long ago. And if he, or someone at CC, or the overwhelming majority of viewers via research are dead-set fans of “The Hobbit,” the week-long set of theme shows focussed on its facets still can’t not be a paid plug. In October, Tom Hanks made a ‘surprise’ entry through a stage-erected door and led out co-actors in his current movie, introduced as their characters as if everyone knew the roles. He was flogging a born-dead film. It felt like, probably was, rented space ... On Channel 11 morning news in November, the wide-eyed reportlette opened a piercing investigative piece with “Some would argue that Johnny Carson set the way for Leno, Letterman, etc.” “Some” would? None would not. When she gleefully announced “Turner Classic Movies is allowing us to see some of those classic moments” I muted the sound, overcome with gratitude that another purveyor finally, since the last time, is allowing us this access after its many releases on VHS and DVD ... During a deep feature about women’s ballet-wear, the same model-newsreader turned dark, saying she thinks that men’s ballet tights show a little too much. She looked like she was going to puke or drop into deep depression. That’s our lot in life, fellas ... “Many details are still unclear,” spoken about a recent mass tragedy, seems self-exculpating. It’s unconvincing claptrap for “We don’t know” ... The “Shop! Shop! Shop!” drumbeat around Christmas on tv was beyond large, it was obscene. Two days left, hours left, tomorrow’s the sale, we’re sending our reporter to a mall to describe the bargains. It was a hammer hit, unrelenting propaganda. There must be a clause in the heart of tv news, the ad sales department, that promises no-letup spending encouragment during holidays. “News” departments, tear down this wall!

The Connecticut shootings

The tv news led with it for weeks, promising individual stories about each dead child, endless focus on grievers, coverage of each day’s new funeral, asking questions that no on can answer.

My hide, aflame

* Many people breast-beat that they were enraged about the 12/14 school shooting. It takes bravery to take such a stand, especially on Facebook. And the news media which, entirely, miscredited the shooter and said his father was dead - Where is the hand-wringing? The wrist-slitting? The apology!

* Many liberals get conservative with age. I’m not, but as far as trusting government I’m starting to lean Lipton after the LA mayor’s recent pronouncement. Modern parking meter rates are expensive, and “Expired” red laserlights beam bright to hasten your ticket. Some meters break. But when a person puts money in and nothing happens they naturally leave their car parked: broken meters have long meant non-payment. Now, we are told, parking at a broken meter is illegal and earns you a hefty fine. The mayor, when questioned, said “Broken meter tickets earn the city a lot of money, so we’re not reversing it.” The meters are electronic and connected to a computer. The city can identify the broken ones and have the parking-punishers cover them with a No Parking hood. But the city does not serve the people, people serve the city. Let’s stop paying taxes.

* Seeing ‘Fog Of War’ cinched something I have long maintained: Johnson is the villain of the Viet Nam War. In the film, we hear JFK say to McNamara that Viet Nam is a quagmire and the token American presence must not be allowed to expand. Then, in a conversation soon after November 22, we hear McNamara tell this to Johnson, and LBJ says, approximately, ‘We can’t pull out and look like we’re running from that little country.” He orders U.S. presence to increase. That’s the smoking gun.

That, sorta, exonerates McNamara. But he then stayed on and developed graphs and charts and victory calculations about the war at the behest of the president, despite personal misgivings. It is something he will not address.

Many people I know blame Nixon. That is the same as saying rock & roll started with the Beatles -- “I know what affected ME.” In 1968, candidate Nixon promised a nonexistent secret plan to end the war. His bumbling kept it going longer than it had already gone, and for that he should burn in hell. But In 1963, not many of my current acquaintances were worried about Viet Nam, so LBJ’s reckless hubris did not register with them. It was in the Nixon era that they were in the cross-hairs.


Typical LA pickup truck


Four of the “Worst Cars Ever” in an LA Times piece are important to me.

* The Cadillac Cimarron, a Chevy compact with Cadillac emblems, was purchased by my dad in 1984. It was bad. But that was right after buying a Peugeot 7, so it’s clear he was losing his marbles.

* I rented a Pontiac Aztek not long ago, and it was OK. Ugly, but OK.

* The ‘58 Edsel was one great looking car, ridiculed by fools. The ‘shield’ grill, common on Jaguars, Mercedes and others, was blasted by car critics, whose herd opinions forewarned me about music critics to come. “It has pushbuttons for the transmission” they howled, unaware of that same technology on the entire Chrysler line. (I wish I’d had the dough to buy a cherry ‘58 convertible in 1979, but $2000 was a lot.)

* The Yugo we owned was quite alright. (My wife paid $200 for it, from a friend.) It was zippy, a direct copy of the un-ridiculed VW Golf. Lost it when the timing belt broke, otherwise I’d have it today. They are so reviled junkyards will not accept them.

7 Peugeot made bicycles too, and they gave you one with the car, though that was hardly pop’s impetus to buy. All the dashboard functions were written in script so nearly impossible to read, though in English. And I’ve told this before, but in 1974 when I visited NYC, nearly half the cabs were Peugeots. They ran on diesel, which was cheap and available during the gas crisis. Strike me dead, nobody remembers this but me. I thought it was a car-promotion, giving cars free to cab-drivers for the exposure. But no.

Graveyard giggles

‘Laid to Rest In California,’ a guide to celebrity graves, contains a lengthy paean to Frank Zappa, whose remains are interred at Westwood Cemetery.

His grave is unmarked so takes some stealth to find. 8 but authors Patricia and Jonathan Brooks chose this odd way to phrase it --

“Unearthing him at Westwood is an undercover job.”

8 I located it in 1998 for the second edition of my book.

Rising to the occasion

Sometimes you strike when it’s hot.

A few dozen years ago I was at a college mate’s party in Chicago. Fresh from Colorado, I wore cowboy boots.

A girl of 12 asked sarcastically “Are you a cowboy?”

- Yup.

“So what are you doing in the kitchen?”

- “I like to be near the range.”

I can still hear her shriek of surprised laughter.


The author at a book-signing asked the purchaser what he should inscribe.

They said “Congratulations, Ebay buyer.”

- 57 -

Mark On The Move
During his time with the Grateful Dead, Jerry Garcia almost always had side projects going, one of the most successful being a gospel & blues-inflected group featuring organist Melvin Seals.  With that band, Jerry brought out material not suited to the Dead, including standards like “Lucky Old Sun” and rave-ups like Hank Ballard’s “Tore Up.” He also indulged his feel for reggae with items like Peter Tosh’s “Stop That Train.” Plus he did Dylan’s “Tangled Up in Blue,” Allen Toussaint’s “I’ll Take a Melody” and Van Morrison’s “And It Stoned Me,” and the occasional Garcia-Hunter original (like “Cats Under the Stars”) that never made it into the Dead repertoire.
Since Jerry’s death in 1995, Seals has kept the Jerry Garcia Band alive with a 6-piece replicating the repertoire and feel of the original (while dozens of Grateful Dead cover bands continue to draw crowds all around America).  Melvin’s exuberant two-set show at the Auburn Events Center in mid-December was my first exposure to guitarist Dave Herbert (also known as Dave A’Bear), who exemplifies Garcia’s playing style without ever simply imitating him.  Aside from Dave and Melvin, who were the focus of most of the arrangements and took most of the solos, I especially appreciated Cheryl Rucker and Shirley Starks, the gospel chorus that kept everything sweet and soulful.  Dave’s most fiery solos came on a loping, joyous “They Love Each Other” (a Garcia-Hunter tune played by both JGB and the Dead) and Los Lobos’ rockin’ “Evangeline,” which amerged as the second half of a medley with Jimmy Cliff’s “Strugglin’ Man.”  Groovy.
Before I caught Elvin Bishop at Grass Valley’s Center for the Arts a few weeks later, I hadn’t seen him since his commercial heyday in the mid-seventies, when the band, with vocalist Mickey Thomas, scored the pop hits “Fooled Around and Fell in Love” and “Struttin’ My Stuff.”  In the sixties, during his years with The Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Bishop was often overshadowed by co-lead-guitarist Mike Bloomfield, but in time Elvin won over audiences with his instrumental prowess with plenty of shows and CD and DVD releases (Bishop turned 70 a couple months ago -- Bloomfield died in 1981 at age 37). 
Bishop’s got a terrific band, all of whom have backed up Chuck Berry, Charles Brown, Charlie Musselwhite, Billy Boy Arnold, Albert King etc.  I especially dug keyboardist Steve Willis, who also sang, played harmonica and driving accordian on the cajun-flavored dance tunes in the set, including a very funky “Got to Be New Orleans.”  Ed Earley contributed some interesting old-timey colors playing trombone (mostly muted) and sang on “Next Time You See Me,” and veteran drummer Bobby Cochran shared lead vocal on several songs while holding down a variety of beats.  Ruth Davies was excellent on bass, and Bishop sounded great dueling with guitarist Bob Welsh, meshing slide licks or trading choruses.  I loved hearing Elvin sing “When My Left Eye Jumps,” with gritty blues solos in between verses.  The original songs showed a lot of humor (“Calling All Cows,” “My Dog” and “Fishin’” among them), and occasional flashes of anger at the state of the world (“What the Hell is Going On”), but mostly Bishop concentrated on upbeat, good-time material (“That’s My Thing,” “Travelin’ Shoes”) and wailing on his 1959 Gibson ES-345.  Elvin gives the impression he’s just a simple country boy; he was born in Glendale but raised in Tulsa, which in his case turns out to be a winning combination.
Rufus and Martha Wainwright brought their annual Xmas extravaganza to UCLA’s Royce Hall, bringing along Emmylou Harris, Van Dyke Parks, Julianna Raye and Jenni Muldaur in their large ensemble.  Carrie Fisher (“Hello, my name is Carrie and I’m an alcoholic”) was also on hand to stumble through a piece of memoir about vibrators as Xmas presents that, um, failed to excite.  I could have lived with less space given to the extended Wainwright family of in-laws, cousins and kids (most of whom were not remotely professional singers) but there were some spectacular performances scattered through the 3-hour show.  Emmylou did “The First Noel” and “Little Town of Bethlehem” in angelic tones, Van Dyke Parks took apart “Angels We Have Heard on High” and reassembled it on piano as if Charles Ives and Stephen Foster had collaborated, Rufus and Julianna sang Frank Loesser’s “What Are You Doing New Year’s Eve?” with great verve, and Martha made “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” into an Edith Piaf number.  The show-stopper of all was Rufus’ a cappella (and without amplification) version of Adolphe Adam’s “O Holy Night” (in the original French).  His operatic vocal training shone, and he made me (almost) regret my childhood was spent singing “I Have a Little Dreidel” instead of “Cantique De Noel.” 

-- Mark Leviton
(Mark’s sixties-themed radio show Pet Sounds can be heard alternate Wednesdays 10pm-Midnight PST on KVMR-FM 89.5 in the Sacramento area and streaming at www.kvmr.org )

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