McCabe's Guitar Shop is just as much a thriving music store as it is the ongoing site of historic folk-pop concerts. Every so often during shows in its back room, a spontaneous yet sacred ritual occurs, typically midway or near the end of a set. Then, the most madly virtuosic member of whichever band is onstage at the moment takes a wide-eyed look around the room and gets a wicked gleam in his or her eye. Next thing you know, he or she is dashing 'round the space, plucking a gorgeous silver steel guitar off this wall and unhooking a vintage mandolin or banjo from its spot on the opposite wall, until everybody in the band is trying out a different rare instrument on each song. It's a special place. How many guitar shops have been the site of concerts by both John Cale and J.J. Cale? For that matter, how many larger-size nightclubs can match McCabe's stellar roster of past performers, which includes John Lee Hooker, Linda Ronstadt, Jackie DeShannon, Gil Scott-Heron, Odetta, Jim Carroll, Tom Waits, Bert Jansch, Neil Innes, Cat Power, Les Paul, Rickie Lee Jones, Jeff Buckley, Clifton Chenier and hundreds of others? 3101 Pico Blvd., Santa Monica. (310) 828-4497,

—Falling James

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