Singer-songwriter Tod Richards, who's appearing Friday at Bourbon Square in Van Nuys, likes to keep a little spontaneity in his stage performance. He's been in bands before, but this weekend it will be just him and his guitar. Unlike many performers, Richards doesn't prepare a set playlist before he goes on stage.
"Sometimes, I have a backup singer or two, but mostly I don't," Richards says. "Sometimes I might do very upbeat stuff, and other nights, just regular country ballads. It all depends on the audience."
Richards, 29, has been doing the L.A. club scene for about nine years, admittedly with little response from record labels.
"I've come to the realization I do it for the 45-minutes on stage, " Richards says. "I'm not a happy guy without it."
Bourbon Square has an acoustic-only night once a month on Thursdays, but Gina Barsamian, the booker at Bourbon Square, thinks highly enough of Richards to book him as the only acoustic act on a Friday night, along with several other rock bands.
Richards is preparing to begin recording an album in a 24-track studio later this month.
"If it doesn't get picked up, I'll be in debt for a long time," Richards says. "But if I don't do it just because of money, I'll be kicking myself later."
* Singer-songwriter Tod Richards appears Friday at Bourbon Square, 15324 Victory Blvd., Van Nuys. $5 cover. Call (818) 997-8562.
New On the Scene: The intersection of Roscoe Boulevard and De Soto Avenue may soon be rockin' with the competing dance beats of two different, newly renovated nightclubs. Get ready to rumba, er, I mean, rumble.
On the northwest corner, Mancini's, which has been a fixture in the area since 1971, has had the neighborhood pretty much to itself the last few years. Originally an Italian restaurant, Mancini's has been a rock/dance club since 1988. Owner Dennis Mancini has just completed a major remodeling job.
And on the southeast corner stands Pitchers, a new name and attitude for an old establishment, McGuire's, an Irish-flavored bar and steakhouse until last August. Owner Kery Levy describes his place as a sports bar, but he wants to have a live music program up and running by Feb. 1. He said he's trying to book several of the bands that used to play at the recently closed Pelican's Retreat.
Mancini also mentioned booking some bands that were regular attractions at Pelican's.
As a result of its major redo, Mancini's now has a separate sports bar section in addition to its huge band and dance area. On nights when the dance room is dark, that section will be closed off. Also, the separation of the bar from the dance room gives Mancini the option of possibly having under-21 shows in the dance room.
Mancini is proud of his remodeled club, from the state-of-the-art sound system with JBL speakers to the overstuffed chairs and sofas that give the place a comfortable living room feel.
Mancini is planning a grand opening of his remodeled club over the next three weekends, featuring bands such as Tattoo Rodeo, Meal Tickets, Ham Sandwich and Krunk.
* Mancini's, 20923 Roscoe Blvd., Canoga Park, (818) 341-8503.
* Pitchers, 8232 De Soto Ave., Canoga Park, (818) 998-1040.
Have a Heart: Reseda resident Chris Pinnick, former lead guitarist with the band Chicago, suffered a massive heart attack New Year's Eve and is in critical condition at UCLA, awaiting a suitable organ for transplant.
Pinnick, who performs locally with the blues band the Buds, was preparing to go to a New Year's Eve engagement when he suffered the attack and was rushed to West Hills Hospital, according to the band's manager, Honey Weiner.
"Seventy percent of his heart was damaged in the attack," Weiner says.
The Buds, which also features Chet McCracken of the Doobie Brothers and Buddy Sklar, formerly of the Spencer Davis Group, have played at several local clubs over the last few years, including B.B. King's Blues Club in Universal City and the now-closed Pelican's Retreat in Calabasas. They were just about to release a CD, Weiner said.
A tax-deductible fund has been established to help Pinnick with his medical expenses.
"It's frightening. I have no idea how much this is going to cost Chris," Weiner said. "More than anything, we need everyone's prayers."
* Tax-deductible donations to the medical fund for Chris Pinnick may be sent to David Geren, Attorney at Law, 15760 Ventura Blvd., Suite 2020, Encino, CA 91436, Attn.: Chet McCracken.