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VALLEY WEEKEND | BEST BETS

May 30, 1996|JAMES E. FOWLER

WEEKEND

If music be the food of love, the Valley will have plenty this weekend.

ROCKIN'

The Second Annual Rock, Rhythm & Blues Festival descends upon the Universal Amphitheatre on Saturday night.

Hot-shot blues guitarist and singer Robert Cray headlines the show. Besides sitting in with the likes of Eric Clapton, John Lee Hooker, B.B. King and Chuck Berry, Cray has recorded nine albums of his own.

His latest album, 1995's "Some Rainy Morning" features a downsized band sans his usual horn section but with more prominent vocals, performing a collection of ballads, blues and shuffles.

Little Feat, also on the lineup, was one of the premier rock bands of the 1970s. It broke up in the last years of the decade and its leader, singer-guitarist Lowell George, died of heart failure a short time later. Nevertheless the band, which re-formed several years ago, continues its brand of hybrid rock combining elements of country, folk, blues, Southern soul and jazz.

J.J. Cale is probably most noted for his days in the Velvet Underground in New York in the 1960s, and as the writer of "After Midnight" and "Cocaine," both huge hits for Eric Clapton.

Multi-instrumentalist David Lindley, whose session work can be heard on recordings by Jackson Browne, Linda Ronstadt, Rod Stewart, Ry Cooder and many others, has songs such as "Mercury Blues" and "I'm a Hog for You Baby" to his solo credit.

Hani Naser will also perform.

* The Second Annual Rock, Rhythm & Blues Festival starts at 6:15 p.m. Saturday at the Universal Amphitheatre, 100 Universal City Plaza. Gates open at 5 p.m. Tickets are $20-$40. Call (213) 480-3232.

SWINGIN'

Don't want to rock?

Maybe you want to swing.

For those aficionados of 1930s-'50s music, the Count Basie Orchestra will perform Friday night at the Alex Theatre in Glendale.

From its inception in Kansas City in 1935, the Basie ensemble worked with many fine singers including Billie Holiday, Joe Williams, Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett. Although Basie died in 1984, his band continues.

Singer Gisele MacKenzie, featured with Tony Martin, started her musical career in radio in her native Canada. Bob Crosby's radio program brought her to Hollywood in the 1940s and from there she went on to appear regularly on television on "The Jack Benny Show," "Our Hit Parade" and other shows.

More recently, MacKenzie, an Encino resident, has performed in regional musical theater.

Martin claims the distinction of being the only person with four stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, reflecting his achievements in the fields of radio, motion pictures, television and recordings.

He was a regular on "The Burns and Allen Show," "The Lucky Strike Hour" and other radio programs, appeared in over 20 films, had more than 30 hit records, and performed on television and in nightclubs in the United States and Europe. His hit records include "Now It Can Be Told," "South of the Border" and "I Get Ideas."

Comic Dave Barry will open the show.

* Gisele MacKenzie, Tony Martin and the Count Basie Orchestra with comedian Dave Barry at 8 p.m. Friday at the Alex Theatre, 216 N. Brand Blvd., Glendale. Tickets are $22.50-$27.50. Call (800) 233-3123.

PICNICKIN'

The Valley Cultural Center's free summer concert series at Warner Park kicks off this Sunday with a program featuring musical ensembles from Cal State Northridge plus Granada Hills, Canoga Park, El Camino Real and Reseda high schools.

The concert starts at 4 p.m. Sunday at the park, 5800 Topanga Canyon Blvd., Woodland Hills. Parking is available in a structure near Owensmouth and Califa streets for $2. Attendees are advised to bring a lawn chair or blanket, and possibly a picnic basket. Call (818) 704-1587.

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