Last Sunday I headed out to hear some live music at the Red Rock Concert Series at Crown Books in Woodland Hills. Ron Sarfaty, hosts a show there once a month that features terrific singer/songwriters and players. (I’ll include a link at the end of this blog.) On the way there I stopped at a music store to pick up a couple things. It turns out this was not a regular music store. It was a rehearsal/performance space with a Mainstage as you walk in the front door and rehearsal rooms up and down the hallways in back. It seemed like it could be a cool place to rehearse and hang out with other musicians. But when I walked in I heard a lone 20 something gal on the Mainstage singing at the top of her lungs, struggling to be heard over the soulless, over produced tracks that were blasting out of a pristine, state of the art sound system. Her audience was comprised of what I can only assume were her family and friends; mom, dad, aunts, uncles, and mom’s senior exercise group from the YMCA. I’ve lived and performed in the LA area long enough to know a “pay-to-play” situation when I see it. Okay, I realize that pay-to-play is sometimes a necessary evil. Young performers need to get stage experience somewhere, but man the whole scene bummed me out.
I left there and a few minutes later I walked into the Crown Books where Ron had chairs set up in front of a makeshift stage with a well-used PA. Two terrific acts performed that afternoon to an attentive audience. The first act was a father-daughter duo, Richard and Dakota Dry. They're a charming pair. Dakota is a pretty amazing singer/songwriter especially considering she's only thirteen years old! Keep your eye out for her. The second act was Tom Corbett who was introduced as the man with fourteen fingers and after hearing him play I understood why. It was a stage filled with talent.
The vibe at the Red Rock Concert series was so different from the showcase going on a few blocks away. It was not about the high end sound system you could purchase or the over produced tracks. It was about the performers and their music, most of which were originals. Between the two acts at the Red Rock concert a tip jar was passed around and the audience gladly threw in money, because guess what? The performers get paid! It made me so grateful that people like Ron host venues like this, venues that support and respect the talent they book. The Sweet Potatoes have played there and we certainly felt the love. Russ and Julie Paris, who host one of the best known house concerts in the country, were there too. Not only do they host amazing acts but they go out and see live music all the time. And these aren't the only two venues like this in SoCal. That’s right, these little gems exist all over and feature some of the most talented folks you’d ever want to hear.
LA is a tough town for musicians but venues like these, run mostly by volunteers, keep live music alive. Take the time to find these intimate concert venues. You will be glad you did.
Here is a link to a several small performance venues in SoCal where you can hear live music performed by talented musicians. Go support live music! http://www.acousticmusic101.com/