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Welcome to the "Hotel California"--well, not quite.

You're a couple of decades late if you want to explore the sights and sounds identified with the music that still defines the Southern California pop mystique for much of the world. You can still drive by the luxurious Beverly Hills Hotel--its exterior was the basis for the Eagles' "Hotel California" album cover--and you can still visit some clubs that once showcased Linda Ronstadt, Jackson Browne, Warren Zevon, John David Souther and other acts associated with the Southern California country-rock sound.

They include the Troubadour, the West Hollywood club where the Eagles' Don Henley and Glenn Frey met. But like the nearby Whisky and Roxy, the Troubadour now showcases up-and-coming pop-rock acts, not the more melodic, country-flavored sound identified with the Eagles.

In fact, no single sound dominates the Southern California pop-rock landscape these days, even though there is probably more musical energy and more hit-producing recording sessions here than ever.

The scores of high-profile artists who live and/or record here range from such Rock and Roll Hall of Fame members as Bob Dylan and Bonnie Raitt to such '90s rap and rock arrivals as Dr. Dre, Beck, Rage Against the Machine, the Offspring, Ice Cube, Eminem, Limp Bizkit, the Wallflowers, Fiona Apple, No Doubt and Macy Gray.

The region also probably has more concerts per week than any other city in America, which means there are plenty of tempting shows upon us. Here are the ones I'd recommend over the next 10 days.

If you want to check out one of the country's fastest-rising hard-rock bands, call a ticket broker for the Deftones' sold-out show tonight at the Hollywood Palladium.

The highlights Friday are Sting outdoors at the Greek Theatre (also Saturday at the Greek and Aug. 18 at Irvine's Verizon Wireless Amphitheater) and the opening of the Watcha Tour 2000, which is an impressive showcase of rock en espan~ol bands, including such major players as Cafe Tacuba, Aterciopelados and Molotov. It's at the indoor Universal Amphitheatre, adjacent to Universal Studios Hollywood and the CityWalk amusement-shopping-dining zone.

If you want to check out the Troubadour, your best bet is Monday, when the North Mississippi All-Stars headline. The blues-flavored rock group includes two sons of revered roots-rock producer Jim Dickinson. The band also plays Tuesday at the Mint.

Another option Monday is to sit under the stars at the intimate John Anson Ford Amphitheatre to see Dido, a tasteful British singer whose music features some of the enticing dance-pop textures also associated with England's Beth Orton. Dido's "Thank You" is sampled in "Stan," the extraordinary track from Eminem's "The Marshall Mathers LP." (Dido also opens for Sting at his Greek shows.)

The city's most celebrated outdoor facility is the Hollywood Bowl, where you can see the legendary Who on Monday. The British band also will be at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater on Wednesday.

On Aug. 17, Dwight Yoakam, the man who updated the Bakersfield country sound, shares the bill at the Universal Amphitheatre with the always reliable Joe Ely, the Texan whose music combines such energy and soul that he's toured over the years with everyone from the Clash to Willie Nelson.

And one of the hip-hop world's most creative enterprises, the Wu-Tang Clan--featuring RZA, the producer responsible for this year's excellent "Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai" soundtrack album--will headline Aug. 18 and 19 at the House of Blues. Bring earplugs.

Addresses, prices, dates. Page 26.


"Personally I think that a visit to one of L.A.'s hottest mariachi restaurants is a must, whether it be Cielito Lindo (South El Monte), La Fonda (L.A.), Guadalajara Grill (Baldwin Park), El Mariachi Restaurant (Orange) or Plaza Garibaldi (Anaheim), where you not only get great music but great Mexican food. And if you're in the mood for dancing, don't miss going to the Rumba Room, which is at Universal CityWalk."


Mariachi singer

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