Although the House of Blues on the Sunset Strip is the Southland venue to hear and see the blues right now, the Hollywood Athletic Club's "Classic Blues Mondays" is the place to go when you have five bucks and a hankering for the music.
Unlike the House of Blues--which is currently concentrating on high-profile acts--the artists playing at the Athletic Club are generally local acts and even new blues bands trying out their style in the upstairs living room. With its candelabra, rich russet paint and green velvet curtains, this plush room may seem more appropriate for opera than the blues, but neither the artists nor the upscale clientele seem to be complaining.
In between sets, which usually start at 9:30 p.m. and end at 1 a.m., you'll also be treated to homemade blues tapes that are as comfortable as the cushy, overstuffed furniture scattered throughout the room. Expect an eclectic selection from Howlin' Wolf to vintage Eric Clapton and Dinah Washington.
Although the 1 1/2-year-old "Classic Blues Mondays" is facing stiff competition from the House of Blues, the Hollywood Athletic Club offers advantages. The $5 cover gets you four free pool tables as well as a handful of backgammon sets, and the valet parking moves a lot quicker than it does at the House of Blues. * Hollywood Athletic Club, "Classic Blues Mondays," 6525 Sunset Blvd., Hollywood, $5 cover, (213) 962-6600.