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MUSIC : Melodious Mix and Match : New and reborn venues will heat up the nights with a wide range of acts.

June 23, 1995|STEVE APPLEFORD | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES; Steve Appleford writes regularly about music for The Times

Music fans seeking some extracurricular heat this summer need not travel beyond the San Fernando Valley, where local venues promise a broad mixture of pop, jazz, rock and country sounds.

With concerts ranging from such major touring acts as countrypolitan singer Reba McEntire to unknown local bands, the coming months again present the Valley as a vibrant, if little-acknowledged, center for live music. And while the once-thriving Country Club in Reseda continues to sit mostly empty in a near-comatose state, a handful of reborn and new venues (i. e., B. B. King's Blues Club at CityWalk) have more than made up the difference.

The most and best-known talent, of course, can be found at Universal Amphitheatre. Among the 50 shows promised this summer season are McEntire's return July 6 to 8; Maze (featuring Frankie Beverly) and Gladys Knight on July 9; Patti LaBelle on July 19; Gordon Lightfoot on July 23, and the Everly Brothers (with Rita Coolidge) on July 29.

Donna Summer plays there Aug. 4; the Dave Matthews Band (with Dionne Farris) on Aug. 5; Mary J. Blige on Aug. 7; Live on Aug. 9; Tom Jones on Aug. 11; "The Legends of Motown" (with the Four Tops, Temptations, Spinners, Mary Wilson, and Junior Walker and the All-Stars) on Aug. 24, and Tricia Yearwood on Aug. 26.

An Aug. 30 show teaming veteran rock acts Fleetwood Mac, Pat Benatar and REO Speedwagon is already sold out, and Alex Hodges, MCA Concerts senior vice president, is hoping to secure an additional date for the trio at the amphitheater.

"Just about everything we've got this summer is doing quite well," says Hodges, who suggests that with the public's lingering bitterness over last year's baseball strike "going to concerts has become the new American pastime."

Universal Amphitheatre, 100 Universal City Plaza, Universal City. Ticket prices vary. Call (213) 480-3232.

Just next door at B.B. King's Blues Club, on the Universal CityWalk, summertime blues is offered seven nights a week.

"It's a big surprise for the tourist on CityWalk to come here and find a legitimate blues venue," says club spokesman Steve Levesque. "Once you get inside, you find out it's the real thing."

Local blues players are on hand, as well as major touring acts that draw the big crowds. Returning for the summer months will be such regulars as King Cotton, 10-year-old harmonica prodigy Brody Buster and guitarist Arthur Adams.

"He is great," Levesque says of Adams. "He's like a B. B. King protege. He plays guitar, he sings, he's very dynamic. He's like a big teddy bear of the blues."

For more information on shows at King's Blues Club, Universal CityWalk, Universal City. call (818) 622-5464.

In North Hollywood, the venerable Palomino continues pursuing a commitment to local country and roots-rock artists. Beginning July 2, singer Astrid Young will be the host of a weekly "Blues Barbecue" on Sundays. Sister to rock 'n' roll deity Neil Young (and a sometime backup singer on his albums), Astrid Young hopes to gather a compelling series of guest musicians.

"She's real well-connected to musicians," says Sherry Thomas, Palomino owner. "She knows a lot of heavy people. She's a bartender here, and it's something she wanted to try."

A Rockabilly Night is planned for July 7. And on July 15, San Diego rockers The Beat Farmers return; retro-country act Big Sandy performs with the Lucky Stars on July 22.

The Palomino, 6907 Lankershim Blvd., North Hollywood. Call (818) 764-4010.

Up the boulevard at FM Station Live, owner Filthy McNasty says he's contemplating bringing in more dance-music acts, after a decade of focus on hard rock. This comes in the wake of the spectacular success of the Boogie Knights, a band in Afro wigs and polyester who play '70s disco.

"I want to get into the dance craze of things," says McNasty, who's been in the Valley for nearly 20 years. "If I get some great top-40 bands, I'm going to book them in here. There are lots of dance-music places, but it's all recorded music. I've always enjoyed dancing to music."

Not that he's totally abandoned loud guitars. McNasty recently booked a reunited Quiet Riot, that chart-topping metal band from the early '80s. And June 30, FM Station Live will be the host to several local hard-rock acts at the 12th-anniversary party for Rock City News magazine.

But some changes are inevitable, he says, now that some clubs are currently suffering poor attendance. "Clubs are closing," FM's owner says. "It's beginning to scare me, but I've been scared before."

FM Station Live, 11700 Victory Blvd., North Hollywood. Call (818) 769-2220.

In Glendale, the Alex Theatre continues to grow into an important venue for a variety of musical styles. The Los Angeles Gay Men's Chorus performs the music of Cole Porter on July 14 and 15; tickets are $10 to $25. The venue also presents the Kingston Trio on July 21; tickets are $22.50 to $26.50.

The Alex Theatre, 216 N. Brand Blvd. Call (818) 243-2539.

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