I went out last night to the Cinema Bar in Culver City to see my friend, Bruce Ray White, do a set with his Random Band. The band yesterday consisted of regular and fabulous guitarist Tom Gramlich on acoustic guitar and newcomer Geoff Rakeness on standup bass. The Cinema Bar (aka, “The World’s Smallest Honky-Tonk”) is a very cool little (and I do mean little) bar on Sepulveda between Venice and Washington. It was actually duplicated entirely for one of the sets used in the short-lived but awesomely good series “Luck” that was on HBO a few years back. Having spent many hours in many towns trying to find good venues for music I know how important they are, and I believe that you can find good music at the Cinema pretty much every night of the week.
Speaking of good music, Bruce and the boys really brought it last night. The sound was great, crisp and clear, and also well maintained. That was a change, as it seems to me that in the past the musicians took care of the sound themselves, with varying degrees of success, but it looked last night that there was actually a sound man running the show, and the results were awesome! I have the utmost respect for a good sound man, as can be seen in my earlier post on the subject! Any serious venue needs one, and if the Cinema has added one, then that is a big plus!
The band was super tight and all acoustic, and I really liked the sound of this incarnation. Tom really got to showcase his acoustic chops, and Bruce (aka, “The Rhythm King”) kept the joint jumping. This was the first opportunity to hear Geoff on bass, and he too was awesome. Bruce is a very sociable guy, and he knows a lot of very talented musicians, so his gigs seem to connect a lot of very cool people. There are generally multiple bands each night at the Cinema, so the changing turnover of the band fans, together with the ebb and flow of the local hipster crowd, along with the hardcore regulars makes the Cinema Bar a great place to hang out around Bruce’s gigs.
Speaking of very cool people, Bruce is one. I have known him since we were housemates up on Mulholland in the early 90’s, and at that time Bruce was just starting to learn the guitar. He is an amazingly talented individual who has mastered pretty much anything he has set his mind to. When I first met him he was the master of the local Cajun dancing scene and there were never any empty slots on his dance card. Somewhere along the way he had also mastered pottery and had some of it exhibited. His current love affair is with guitar building as you can see in Scott Brause‘s profile of Bruce on his blog. I myself am the proud owner of either number 8 or 9 in the “Bruce Ray White” collection, a guitar that Bruce built from a kit for a Martin HD-28 that I had purchased for $400. If you are interested in having a guitar built for you, Bruce is your man! He also makes a wicked paella, and even provides his own pot–his motto is “Have Paella Pan Will Travel”.
The one area where Bruce has been less than stellar in his performance is in the “Working for a Living” arena. Rather than being something sensible, like a music promoter, a road manager for a band, or a master craftsman, Bruce has for most of his working career worked in the billing departments of law firms, a setting that is guaranteed to result in high levels of stress. He has since left that realm and is now selling the services of a company that for a fee will prepare and submit the paperwork required to take advantage of a Federal program to reduce student loan debt. If you are drowning in such debt, give Bruce a call at 310-289-2129 and he will set you up!