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MUSIC | ROCKTALK

With a Little Help From Her Friends

Benefit show will help cancer victim Kathy Crown complete her CD.

March 20, 1997|JAMES E. FOWLER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Singer-songwriter Kathy Crown has been a regular performer on the Los Angeles club and coffeehouse circuit for the last few years. Her music combines folk lyrics with a jazzier style of music. And she could be heard performing on the pan flute.

In September, soon after she had completed the basic tracks for her first CD, Crown, 40, was found to have cervical cancer. Her health has deteriorated over the last months, and doctors have declared her condition terminal.

Her friends are determined to complete Crown's CD. On Sunday, they will hold a benefit in North Hollywood to raise funds to complete the recording, titled "Bridge Between Worlds."

The benefit will feature performances by Lisa Nemzo, Mary White, Denise Gentilini, Debbie Lawrence, Sandy Ross, Sharon Benson, Sheryl Olson and others.

"These gals are doing this out of love for my daughter," said Marilyn Crown, Kathy's mother. "So many people have called me. Kathy's a very special person."

The CD, being co-produced by Nemzo and Gentilini, consists of all original material, except for a cover of the Eden Ahbez tune "Nature Boy," made popular by Nat "King" Cole. Crown wrote the title track, "Bridge Between Worlds," for a cousin who died of AIDS in 1993.

The first song Crown ever wrote, "Sturdy Woman," was considered Crown's signature tune. She wrote it after bicycling across Canada.

"She was very strong, very healthy, very proud of her health," Marilyn Crown said.

Singer-violinist Sharon Benson, who once performed with Crown in a band called Soul Retrieval, is also the owner of Coffee Junction in Tarzana. The benefit will be held at Escapades in North Hollywood, she said, but people can purchase tickets or make donations at Coffee Junction.

*

It was the Saturday before St. Patrick's Day and I went to check out the Celtic rock band Finn Mac Cool at Ireland's 32 in Van Nuys.

I tend to have mixed feelings about St. Patrick's Day. As an adult, I admire the strength and spirit of the Irish people, but as a child I went to St. Patrick's, a Catholic school in New York.

Not surprisingly, it was a predominantly Irish parish.

Each spring, in lieu of an Easter pageant, the school would have a St. Patrick's Day play, and all the students, regardless of ethnicity, were forced to sing Irish songs. While it was certainly no great atrocity, I was a victim of ethnic chorusing.

But enough of that.

Unfortunately, Ireland's 32 was packed. I couldn't make my way to the bar or get near the stage, or very far into the club at all, so I left without hearing the band.

Then I made my second logistic error of the evening: I made my way to the Pickwick Pub in Woodland Hills. In retrospect, I realize it's probably not a good idea to go to an English-style pub any time near an Irish holiday, but there I was.

This night a Beatles tribute act--a trio named the Two of Us--was playing to a nearly empty house. The group consisted of three guitar-toting singers. You could tell that one guy's life was inexorably changed when someone once made the mistake of telling him he looked like Paul McCartney. The group specialized in early Beatles material, tunes from the band's first two or three albums.

Maybe the three of them in the Two of Us were tired.

The group should be commended for its attempts to re-create the three-part harmony that made the Fab Four, well, the Fab Four. Sometimes they succeeded.

But more often than not, they didn't. They did a creditable version of "She Loves You," but fell remarkably short on such numbers as "Chains" and "Yes It Is."

More irritating than the music were the bad British accents between songs. Although talented, these guys should consider spending some more time in the garage.

Lucky for them, hardly anyone was there but me.

*

BE THERE

Benefit for Kathy Crown on Sun., 7 p.m., at Escapades, 10437 Burbank Blvd., North Hollywood. (818) 508-7008. $4 advance, $6 at the door. For more information about the benefit, call Coffee Junction at (818) 342-3405.

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