Through the magic of television reruns, the Monkees have never left us.

They’re back again--live--on a 30th anniversary tour that stops tonight at Universal Amphitheatre. At least three of them.

After 30 years, Mickey Dolenz, Davy Jones and Peter Tork look none the worse for wear. They, along with Mike Nesmith, captured the hearts of the great American television audience on NBC-TV starting in 1966.


Inspired by the Beatles’ film, “A Hard Day’s Night,” television producers Bob Rafelson and Bert Schneider held open auditions for their sitcom about a struggling rock band.

But, the four young men chosen for this prefabricated chance at stardom were selected for their personalities and looks, not so much for musical ability.

True enough, Nesmith and Tork were guitarists, but Jones and Dolenz were primarily actors who sang. Dolenz, the Monkees’ “drummer” and formerly TV’s “Circus Boy,” didn’t know a paradiddle from a pachyderm.

So, studio musicians were hired, and the Monkees just acted like musicians. That bothered some serious types in the 1960s, when people used to worry incessantly about “being real.”

Subsequent generations of TV viewers have ceased to consider it an issue and just enjoy the show and the music for what they are--harmless fun and good, frothy, ‘60s-style pop.

* The Monkees at 8:15 tonight at Universal Amphitheatre, 100 Universal City Plaza. Tickets $13-$35. Call (213) 480-3232.


Ray Pizzi, who’s performing with pianist Paul Astin at the Coffee Junction on Friday, is one of those rare, serious musicians who can entertain as well as dazzle. He’s a showman. His playing, whether on the sax, flute or bassoon, has a sense of humor.


“I own the corner on whimsy,” Pizzi says immodestly. “It’s a real gift that I discovered I have.”

Pizzi has used his gift performing in the scores of more than 100 films. The Van Nuys resident received the prestigious Emeritus award from the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences in 1984.

Later in that decade, Pizzi played sax and even acted in the award-winning short film, “End of the Rainbow,” about a down-and-out musician who can’t remember the middle eight bars of “Over the Rainbow” (“Someday I’ll wish upon a star and wake up where the clouds are far behind me . . . "). So, he jumps out his window in frustration, only to hear the ambulance’s siren blaring out the forgotten notes.

Pizzi’s recipe for musical success is simple.


“It’s not what you do with the instrument,” he says, “it’s what you do with the music.”

Taking his sense of humor to a new medium, Pizzi has just completed a book of charcoal drawings, “Saxual Fantasies,” which he describes as a series of visual puns.

* Bassoonist-flutist-saxophonist Ray Pizzi and pianist Paul Astin perform at 8 p.m. Friday at the Coffee Junction, 19221 Ventura Blvd., Tarzana. No cover. Call (818) 342-3405.



Ever want to play the dulcimer?

How about the Cajun fiddle? Or the autoharp?

This weekend you could have your chance at the 16th Annual Summer Solstice Folk Music, Dance and Story-Telling Festival, being held in Calabasas.

This is primarily a teaching festival. More than 300 workshops, from beginning to advanced, are being offered over the three day event. Loaner instruments will even be available at some workshops. No previous musical knowledge is necessary.


* 16th Annual Summer Solstice Folk Music, Dance and Storytelling Festival at Soka University, 26800 W. Mulholland Highway; 7:30-10:30 p.m. Friday, 9 a.m.-6:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Admission is $7 Friday, $20 per day Saturday and Sunday. Information: (818) 342-7664.