Valley of Variety


It has been said that the San Fernando Valley is home to more professional musicians than anywhere else in the world.

Whether that’s true or not, Valley residents in the new millennium will continue to have a wide choice of menu options when it comes to hearing live music close to home. Jazz, blues, country, rock, Latin, folk, bluegrass and pop are all readily available in local nightclubs, coffeehouses and concerts on any given weekend. Here are some highlights coming up next year.

* The Latin music scene in the Valley kicks off to an impressive start Saturday night with Cuba’s most famous dance orchestra, Juan Formell and Los Van Van, performing at the Sportsmen’s Lodge in Studio City.

Los Van Van has been one of the most influential forces in Afro Cuban music for over 30 years. Saturday’s show is the first of the year for dance promoter Albert Torres, whose weekly Friday night concert/dances at the Sportsmen’s Lodge will feature such local Latin music heavyweights as Johnny Polanco y Su Conjunto Amistad; Orquesta Costazul and Orquesta Son y Clave. For more information, call (310) 450-8770.


* Concerts in the Park--the Valley Cultural Center’s annual free summer concert series--will celebrate its 25th season in 2000.

As part of its celebration, the Cultural Center is presenting the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra in concert Feb. 29 at the Madrid Theatre in Canoga Park. It will be the chamber ensemble’s first performance at the city’s newest Valley facility.

Also, music business veteran Steve Goldstein, the cultural center’s vice president in charge of programming, has assembled a varied lineup for this summer at Warner Park in Woodland Hills that will include the Latin jazz of Airto Moreira and Flora Purim, the New Orleans Dixieland stylings of the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, the pop of singer-songwriter Kim Carnes, the classical offerings of the San Fernando Valley Symphony and the dance music of Bill Eliott’s Swing Orchestra.

The summer’s finale is going to be a tribute to Broadway’s Jerry Herman, composer of the musicals “Hello Dolly,” “Mame” and others. For more information, call (818) 704-1358.


* The “Show of the Month” series at Cal State Northridge, which caters to people in their 50s and older, will present singers Jerry Vale and Al Martino in concert together March 18 and 19. The concert is the first joint appearance by the two singers in Los Angeles.

Both had a string of hit records in the 1950s and have continued performing in nightclubs and concerts. For more information on “Show of the Month’s” 2000 schedule, call (818) 785-8885.

* Gina Barsamian, aka Gina B, the rock music maven and booker at the Blue Saloon in North Hollywood, says the biggest trend she sees for the new year is the growing popularity of acoustic music.

So in 2000, Gina B’s monthly Acoustic Night at the Blue Saloon is going weekly, every Thursday. Gina B, who also books shows at the Troubadour in West Hollywood and other L.A. clubs, reports that the Blue Saloon is undergoing some major remodeling and getting a new sound system for the new millennium. (818) 766-4644.

* Steve Rakoczy, the owner of Cozy’s Bar & Grill in Sherman Oaks, does not foresee any major changes in his blues club’s music policy in 2000.

“Definitely, we’re going to stay with what we do,” Rakoczy says. “But, I’m going to get more big acts.”

That’s nothing but good news for Valley blues fans. National acts such as Kim Wilson and Kid Ramos of the Fabulous Thunderbirds, the Paladins, Rod Piazza and the Mighty Flyers, Guitar Shorty and Teddy Morgan have all performed at Cozy’s in 1999. (818) 986-6000.