Edited by Kateri Butler

Although barricaded by the annual eyesore that is the Hollywood Christmas Parade, the KNITTING FACTORY still managed to get the masses in (500 people at $25 each, including us press folk) for its fund-raiser benefiting PETRA HADEN (pictured), That Dog’s violin-wielding founding member, who was hit by a car in Venice a few months ago while crossing the street, leaving her with multiple injuries. (Donations are still needed: Check out www.winrecords.com/petrahaden.html for more info.) Green-haired Go-Go JANE WIEDLIN emceed the event as some 25 artists, including jazz great and papa CHARLIE HADEN, brother JOSH, VICTORIA WILLIAMS & THE CREEK DIPPERS, ABBY TRAVIS, STEPHEN PERKINS, NELS CLINE, MIDGET HANDJOB, PHRANC, SOLID EYE, and EXENE & THE ORIGINAL SINNERS, took the stage to help Haden, who is uninsured. JUDITH OWEN did some Lilith-ish songs, TENACIOUS D delivered a ripping tribute to Dio, and RADIOBEMBA picked up the tempo with their superb salsa/samba/rock set (watch for their upcoming release on Perro Verde Records). But everyone, especially the fanatics who stuck like suction cups to the stage for the duration of the show, stopped dead-cold once the other Thin White Duke took over. Hearing BECK play acoustic was indeed a rare treat, but watching him sing and dance to “We Got the Beat” with the Go-Go’s (Jane, CHARLOTTE CAFFEY, KATHY VALENTINE, GINA SCHOCK but no BELINDA CARLISLE), MATTHEW SWEET, That Dog’s ANNA WARONKER and Tenacious D was an amusingly surreal highlight. An overwhelmed Haden made it onstage with her crutches, thanked the performers and the crowd, and announced, “I’m gonna get some health insurance soon.”

—Siran Babayan


Last weekend, THE PLAYROOM turned into a literal hot spot: A fire destroyed the interior shortly after CLUB CHERRY had closed early Saturday morning. The blaze, which appears to have started in the back of the club, is still under investigation by the L.A. Fire Department; the inspector investigating was not available for comment. According to LAUREL CARINI SMITH, special-events coordinator for the Playroom, the Gate and the soon-to-be-opened Latin Lounge (formerly La Masia) — all owned by ART and ALLAN DAVIS — “arson has been ruled out.” The Davises plan to reopen the space “as soon as possible,” which most likely will be early next year. In the meantime, promoters have been scrambling to find other venues: Scream’s DAYLE GLORIA is taking scene zine The H.O.R.N.Y. Pages Music and Fashion Awards to Dragonfly on December 11, and BRYAN RABIN will be moving Cherry to Vynyl starting on December 8. Bryan has had a bit of bad luck with venues: It was almost a year ago that flames swept through Club 7969 following another Rabin event, called Vibrator; 7969 was remodeled by designer extraordinaire RICKI KLINE, who also did the interiors of the Playroom and Vynyl.

—Lina Lecaro

The Downlow on Whassup

It was that quintessential “you know you’re in L.A.” sight: a wildly dancing, sweat-soaked girl twirling her feather boa in the air while simultaneously chatting on a cell phone in the middle of a packed rooftop dance floor at the second annual THANKS GIVENDS shindig (which raised more than $2,000 for the Mar Vista Family Center and Fremont High School music program) at the MONTE CRISTO on Thanksgiving eve. Guess the li’l hottie was trying to reach out and get into the tribal spirit without having to actually interact with anyone else. About 600 or so fresh ’n’ freaky funksters gave their back-jackin’ thanks to some of the architects of L.A.’s underground hip-hop and house-music scenes. Rooftop DJs PHOENIX, J.T. DONALDSON, TONY WATSON and DUSK showed the decks no mercy, keeping the four-to-the-floor funk on the real and the groovers’ gratitude flowin’ all night long. While Firecracker’s (and the Weekly’s) LISA YU, Sol’s TIEN TRAN and the Root Down’s CARLOS GUAICO expertly played the hosts with the most, Soul Slimmy’s and Nappy at the Root’s LADY COPPER emceed, scuttling with mike in hand from rooftop to ballroom, where she prepped an even bigger posse of humpin’ folk: “Y’all ready to get baptized by the bass?” They were — having been previously sanctified by the wax wizardry of DJs DAZ, GARTH TRINIDAD, PEANUT BUTTER WOLF and ERIC COLEMAN. With that groundwork already laid, high priestess of hip-hop MEDUSA (pictured) — who was lookin’ mighty fine in an all-white pantsuit and lime-green fur hat — tore into the ready-made congregation as she dropped cold female science amid shouts of “Amen!” while rare-groove trio ROOTMATIX served up jazzy beatitude in the background. Amen indeed!

—Derrick Mathis

Never Tired Lovin’ You

It was a night of a thousand encores that no one but the sultana of soul herself, DR. NINA SIMONE, could command — well, make that demand. Simone managed to summon three standing ovations before her third song as she sauntered, à la Norma Desmond, from her piano bench to center stage while waving a feather like a magic wand. What else could the WILTERN crowd do but leap to their feet like smitten puppies? The unpredictable chanteuse held her fans — a group that fell somewhere between the House of Blues Sunday Gospel Brunch and a suburban swingers’ cocktail party — captive even when she wasn’t onstage. Almost midway through the show, she disappeared backstage, leaving her band to jam. She was gone so long that we thought perhaps she was getting a jump on exiting the parking lot. Eventually, she did return, and began taking requests from the audience, turning the evening into a pleasantly dysfunctional family affair — kind of like watching your eccentric great-aunt get snockered and plop down at the piano to attack the ivories. Despite a few shaky moments, the honorary doc is still outspoken and sharp as a tack. Upon spying a couple “making love” in the front row, she happily brought the entire audience into the heat of their moment by adding a line about them in her rendition of “Just Like a Woman.”

—Jen Hitchcock

LA Weekly