Roots, community and change

Roots, community and change

UK ‘circus swing’ singer Gabby Young and gritty bluesman Jake La Botz among those coming to Honky Tonk Hacienda nights Thursdays at El Cid

By Bliss Bowen 03/06/2014

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It can be a real vibe killer to go to a club and find five different bands playing that have no discernible connection to one another save for their mutual need for a stage on which to perform. Far more rewarding are the increasingly popular nights curated by one promoter or tastemaker with a knack for bringing together complementary artists and audiences who will appreciate them. 

Case in point: Honky Tonk Hacienda, conceived and organized by writer and longtime LA music scene champion Suzanne O’Keeffe. Despite what its name may suggest, Honky Tonk Hacienda covers the spectrum of roots music, not just twang. The night launched with a “haunted” theme on Halloween and proved so popular with LA’s Americana/roots community that it became a weekly event; recent guests have included Foo Fighters guitarist Chris Shiflett with his Dead Peasants band, Dwight Yoakam guitarist Brian Whelan and former Rave-Ups frontman Jimmer Podrasky. 

This Thursday, the stage will host Gabby Young, a video-savvy UK songstress who rocks an elaborately coiffed head of red hair that “Mad Men’”s Joan Harris would envy. The classically trained Young’s theatrical “circus swing” is as imaginative as it is robustly orchestrated — equal parts jazz, folk and cabaret-style pop, with a potent shot of humor. Expect to hear “I’ve Improved” and other tunes from her forthcoming album “One Foot in Front of the Other,” due out in late April, when she plays El Cid Thursday before heading to Austin to showcase at SXSW.

Later this month — on Thursday, March 20 — the Hacienda will go roadhouse for a night of gritty, metaphysically inclined blues from former Angeleno Jake La Botz, who’s been reaping strong notices of late for his starring turn in the Stephen King-John Mellencamp play “Ghost Brothers of Darkland County.” It will be one of a handful of area club dates and house concerts for the busy musician and actor, who recently finished filming an indie film partly inspired by his music, Chris Hicky’s “The Grace of Jake.”

Now based in Brooklyn, La Botz used to be a local fixture, playing regularly at downtown LA’s Redwood Bar, among other venues. But the principal constant in LA’s music scene is change. That presents an ongoing challenge for a community forever struggling to cohere and define itself, but it also presents discerning music lovers with worthy reasons to get out of the house and experience music in its most honest form: raw and live.  

Honky Tonk Hacienda presents Gabby Young & Other Animals plus Moot Davis at El Cid, 4212 W. Sunset Blvd., Hollywood, 7:30 p.m. tonight, March 6; Jake La Botz performs on Thursday, March 20. No cover until 8:30 p.m.; $5 after. Info: (323) 668-0318.,,


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