The Valley Line: Houseguest's visit inspires a whirlwind tour

The music beat goes on. Kristin Korb, a bassist and vocalist, enchanted music lovers on Aug. 15 at Descanso Gardens' Music on the Main jazz series, which has been attracting guests on Thursday evenings this summer.

Although she began her music career here in the U.S. and has taught music at USC and Azusa Pacific University, Korb now makes her home in Denmark.

Guests brought their folding chairs, blankets to spread on the grass, food to nosh on and wine to sip as they listened to this delightful concert.

Tonight, the Descanso jazz series closes with the piano and vocal styling of Betty Bryant. The concert is from 6 to 7:30 p.m.

A quick catch up: The Pasadena Pops' last concert, "Classical Mystery Tour: Music of the Beatles" was a wild success. Beatlemania was happening all over again! What fun it was as concertgoers were dancing on the grass at the Los Angeles Arboretum.

The Pops last concert of the summer is on Sept. 7 when Michael Feinstein, conductor presents "Michael Feinstein: The Gershwins and Me."

A true Gershwin scholar, for years Michael has been assembling rare arrangements of Gershwin classics that best represent the style and sound of George and Ira's work. From his personal archives Michael will present some little known Gershwin treasures along with iconic songs like "Embraceable You" and "Love is Here to Stay." Joining Michael will be vocalists Catherine Russell and Chuck Cooper.

There's nothing like having out-of-town houseguests to help you rediscover treasures that we have nearby our own city of La Cañada Flintridge.

My longtime friend, Jackie Manning, was here visiting from Tucson. Jackie and her late husband, Whip, lived here on Alta Canyada Road for 30 years. Their kids, Tom and Elizabeth, both went to Flintridge Prep. It was such fun to catch up on news of our respective lives and reflect on old times.

It has been awhile since Jackie has been back to her old stomping grounds so she was quite surprised to see the Town Center complex.

We had a whirlwind, jam-packed four days as Jackie met up with old friends. We certainly found plenty of things to do. We went to our local theater to see "Lee Daniels' The Butler" on its opening day. This film is about a man who was raised in the cotton fields of the South who went on to serve eight U.S. presidents as a butler in the White House.

Oscar-winning actor Forest Whittaker does a superb job with the butler character as does Oprah Winfrey as his wife. Winfrey received an Oscar nomination for "The Color Purple," her first film.

"Lee Daniels' The Butler" walked away with the top dollars at the box office this past weekend.

I've already heard there is Oscar buzz for this film, but we just have to wait and see when the nominations come out in January.

Because Jackie is a fashion maven, I suggested that we make a quick trip to downtown L.A. to see "The Outstanding Art of Television Costume Design" exhibit that is open now through October at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising's main museum gallery. Admission is free.

It is a fabulous exhibit with more than 120 costumes. I came away having made my decision on favorite costumes that are up for Emmy Awards. The winners will be announced at the 2013 Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards airing Sept. 21 on the new FXX network. The 65th Primetime Emmy Awards will be seen on Sept. 22 on CBS.

There are more than 10 costumes from "Downton Abbey" on display that are absolutely breathtaking. Also, the "Little Black Dress" worn by Robin Wright in "House of Cards" is a stunner.

Gaudy and extravagant are the best words to describe the costumes from HBO's, "Behind the Candelabra," the story of entertainer Liberace and his relationship with Scott Thorson, his ex-lover.

The pièce de résistance from that show is a faux white-fox fur coat studded with crystals and lined with silver sequins. The coat is 16 feet long and weighs 75 pounds. The original real fox fur coat Liberace wore weighed in at 150 pounds. How would you like to drag that around?

Other costumes on display are from such television shows as "Game of Thrones," "Great Expectations," "Parks and Recreation," "Smash," "Las Vegas," "Two Broke Girls," and others.

Next door to the main gallery is a special exhibit, "Gatsby's Women: 1920s Evening Dress from the Helen Larson Historic Fashion Collection."

The program notes read, "1920s evening dress was made for movement, and designed with frenetic dances like 'The Charleston' in mind. Weighted with beads and sequins, these dresses swung wildly to the sounds of Jazz and clinking cocktails... Enter this short-lived, liberated era that glittered brightly with Flappers and Gangsters before the onset of the Great Depression and World War II."

These dresses by Coco Chanel, Lanvin and other French designers, are exquisite. What a treat to see these works of art. Don't miss this exhibit because it is quite beautiful.

Before Jackie boarded her late afternoon plane back to Tucson, she wanted to stop by her favorite museum, the Norton Simon in Pasadena. She worked there years ago and several times met Simon himself.

On Sunday there was quite a crowd coming to see the works of the great masters that Simon so loved. The museum's French Impressionist collection is so revered that people come from all over the world to see it. I heard many different languages being spoken as I wandered through the galleries.

In fact, while we were viewing "The Laundress," by Edgar Degas, a couple from France, with their young children in tow, came to admire this painting too.

Techie that I am, I was delighted when I was told by a museum guide that I could instantly download a free cellphone app that allowed me to learn about the paintings and their artists as I moved from room to room — it was my own personal tour guide.

Bargain alert: On the first Friday of each month, the museum is open to all visitors from 6 to 9 p.m., free of charge.


JANE NAPIER NEELY covers the La Cañada social scene. Email her at with news of your special event.

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