By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
The Devil Made Him Write It
Robert Johnson, the mesmerizing 1930s-era Delta-blues shaman, famed for having sold his soul to the devil in exchange for the skills he so effectively brought to the music, remains an unusually compelling figure — so much so that one can’t help but wonder if Beelzebub indeed took an interest in the singer. How else to account for his seemingly eternal fame? When Columbia reissued all his recordings in a box set some years back, it actually made the upper reaches of the Billboard chart. More recently, he was the subject of an affectionate tribute disc by Brit blues head Eric Clapton, and now Johnson, a full 70 years after his mysterious, untimely death, turns up as the subject of this midday reassessment presented by author-musician Elijah Wald, whose 2006 book Escaping The Delta: Robert Johnson and the Invention of the Blues broke some startling new ground. Wald will conduct a multimedia presentation probing Johnson’s background, history and music, and considering the painstakingly researched arguments and conclusions that the book makes, it should be a fascinating affair. Wald’s questioning of the accepted view of the blues’ socio-cultural, post-slavery role (versus its more likely rise through the far less romantic reality of record sales) and his depiction of Johnson as a regular dude with conventional tastes (remember, he logged many hours singing Jimmie Rodgers’ Blue Yodels for coppers on the street corner) is refreshingly contrary. To stone fans, it may seem heretical, but Wald knows his stuff, and he’ll be demonstrating this not just through discussion, but also with live musical performance, recordings and photographs. Considering Johnson’s pervasive influence on British and American popular music, this is a proposition fraught not with musty veneration, but with provocative, thoughtful exploration. West Los Angeles Library, 11360 Santa Monica Blvd., West L.A.; Sun., Feb. 22, 2 p.m.; free. (310) 575-8379. —Jonny Whiteside
MONDAY, FEBRUARY 23
Let’s Get Small
“The smallest variety show in L.A. raises money for a BIG cause,” boasts 826LA’s Tiny Vaudeville. Yep, if it’s the last Monday of the month, it must be time to raise money for writing and tutoring programs for students ages 6 to 18. Joel Spence and Marc Evan Jackson host the Dan Bern Orchestra with Common Rotation, singer Maria Taylor, Jeremy Konner and his Melodius Cutlery, Laraine Newman, Samm Levine, Eddie Pepitone, Bhama Roget and Lauren Rogers. Wait — did that just say Laraine Newman? Gotta love her. Echoplex, 1154 Glendale Blvd., Echo Park; Mon., Feb. 23, 8 p.m.; $14, $12 in advance. (213) 413-3388 or http://826la.org/store-tickets. —L.M.
Luxury: It’s What’s for Breakfast
Snow could be falling outside and Angelenos will still walk around in flip-flops. And most Americans couldn’t tell the difference between Kmart and Karl Lagerfeld. But Sally Singer, fashion-news and features director of Vogue, heads the panel discussion Conscientious Consumption: Sustainability and the Future of Luxury, on how fashion has been bitten by the recession, with four local tastemakers. Panelists include jewelry maker Tom Binns; denim king Adriano Goldschmied; clothes and home-furnishings designer Christina Kim; and one-half of the Rodarte line, Kate Mulleavy. A Q&A follows. Hammer Museum, 10899 Wilshire Blvd., Westwood; Mon., Feb. 23, 7 p.m.; $7, $5 seniors, students and under 17 free. (310) 443-7000.—Siran Babayan
TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 24
It's Not Fat Tuesday — It's Just Big-Boned
Amoeba Music has kept its promise to help rebuild post-Katrina New Orleans for three-and-a-half years. Come join in an afternoon Amoeba Mardi Gras celebration, including a goofy parade led by the Amoeba Town Musicians down the streets and aisles. DJ Flash Gordon will spin New Orleans sounds, which should get you in the mood to spend some money, with a portion of the profits going to the Tipitina’s Foundation and the New Orleans Music Clinic. Only one question remains: Where can you get good Cajun grub in Hollywood? Jonathan Gold? Jonnnnnn-aaaaaaa-than!!!!! Help! Amoeba Music, 6400 Sunset Blvd., Hlywd.; Tues., Feb. 24, 4 p.m.; free, but have a heart and buy something. (323) 245-6400. —L.M.
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 25
Richard Lucas found himself living next to a neighbor with a dog that barked all day and night. He got mad. “I was told by the Sheriff’s Department to complete a six-month barking-dog log before they would step in,” Lucas says. “That dog log unfolds the torment of living next to incessant barking and the comically cruel effects it has had on my life. It’s a classic tale of man vs. beast, of one man’s fight to resolve neighbor’s inhumanity to neighbor, as well as a journey of self-discovery in a time of nearly unendurable domestic duress at the hands of a 2.5-pound Yorkshire terrier named Sophie. Who will win the ultimate test of wills?” What’s an actor to do but turn the saga into a one-man show and call it Buried in Sophie’s Tomb: My Barking Dog Log to the West Hollywood Sheriff’s Dept. Comedy Central Stage, 6439 Santa Monica Blvd., Hlywd.; Wed., Feb. 25, 8 p.m.; free, resv. required. (323) 960-5519. —L.M.
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