Perhaps in keeping with the choice of Jimmy Webb as the recipient of its lifetime achievement award, the National Academy of Songwriters' eighth-annual "Salute to the American Songwriter" at the Wilshire Ebell Theatre on Friday had a distinctly retro quality.
More disturbingly, it was largely white and male, with Marie Cain and Judith Owen the only female performers, and Terry Steele the only African American.
Webb received his award with characteristically offbeat aplomb, and sang three of his lesser-known pieces, including the lovely "The Moon's a Harsh Mistress."
The featured spot was devoted to a Brill Building tribute with Jeff Barry and the team of Jerry Leiber & Mike Stoller singing such '50s and '60s hits as "Sugar, Sugar," "Leader of the Pack," "Yakety Yak" and "Hound Dog." Barry, sounding like a perennial 16-year-old, managed to communicate his enjoyment; Leiber & Stoller were erratic until their finest effort, "Is That All There Is?"