Monday, January 10, 2011


Andy Garcia meet Paul & Gloria

Right before the last New Years Eve, I was checking out the weekly email I receive from a company called Goldstar, a really great company that gives you discounts for shows and events around town (I think they are in numerous cities?) They were offering some tickets for contemporary torch singer Jane Monheit at the legendary LA jazz club Catalina’s Bar & Grill (can you believe me, the L.A. native had never been?) By the time I decided to go the limited tickets they were offering for the show had sold-out. Oh well, I thought?  Before I logged off, I noticed that Andy Garcia (yes, the actor) and his Cuban band were going to play Catalina’s in a week or so… and they had just three tickets left… hmm, I thought? My parents just had their 50th wedding anniversary a couple weeks back, and my brothers and I took them to dinner at a very cool restaurant called Dear John’s in Culver City. But I thought that this might be something else fun to do with them?… mom’s always liked Andy Garcia’s movies and my dad’s into the jazz scene and with Gold Star the price was just about right. Yeah, I gave GS a little plug, but I think it’s a good deal, and it’s FREE to join.

My & the Folks!

My Andy Garcia tales go back to 1991, when I worked my first Oscar show and one of the people  I was assigned to help during the show that year was Andy Garcia (he was nominated for best supporting actor for Godfather III.)  And I've been a fan of his acting since I caught him in picture 8 Million Ways to Die ( ) Andy was also presenting an award for something that night also? I can’t remember what? Hey, it was a long time ago, but I do recall his wife was very pregnant at the time.  Unfortunately for Andy, he didn’t win that night. When you’re assigned to a nominee you gotta root for them, right? So I was bummed that he didn’t win naturally (Denzel won that year, my pal Rafael was assigned to him.)  During the Oscar show the best supporting actor award is given early on, right off the bat! It must be rough, you gotta sit there all night and not look too pissed (unless you’re Eddie Murphy, just get up and leave your choice seats for the fillers to warm all night. Well, later during the show when I saw Andy, I felt I had to say something? I was like; "hey Andy, you’ll get’um next time pal,” something like that? Heck, I didn't know what to say? But, I do remember his reply thought; he said; “don’t worry I’ll be back.”  I liked his attitude, I don’t think he’s been nominated since, but I don’t doubt that he will be back.

Andy tickling the ivories!

I also worked on a great little film called, The Man from Elysian Fields (2002) that Andy Garcia made while I was associated with the film department at the Ambassador Hotel in Los Angeles. If you get a chance check this little gem out. Andy plays a married Pasadena writer who somehow finds himself becoming a gigolo. The film also featured one of my cinema heroes, James Coburn (in his second to last role) as a famous dying writer whose wife Garcia services. The picture also had some great scenes of my beloved hotel in that movie too. Yes, I know that I’m digressing!

So you see with all this Andy & Ray history, not to mention my photo-journalistic trip last year to Havana, where Andy was born ( I wish we could have chatted about that.) His family escaped to Miami, just as the Cuban Revolution was heating up. Well sir, I ready to get my Cuban on! So my folks and I made the short hop from Venice to Hollywood last Saturday night to Catalina’s Bar & Grill (which is now located just east of Highland Ave. on Sunset Blvd... FYI.)

AG banging the bongos!
Catalina’s is a great place to see a show (a very intimate room.)  Garcia’s band consists of eleven musicians (counting Andy who plays percussion and piano) who perform whenever Andy can get them all rounded up (because they’re usually touring or recording with major acts.) Andy joked his band rarely gets to rehearse… in fact, he joked “they never rehearse!” With the exception of some sound problems, Andy Garcia and CineSon All Stars sounded pretty darn good. It's basically a great Cuban music jam session! The packed house really had a great time. I even noticed Andy’s lovely daughters in the house… I wondered which one that his wife had been carrying during that Oscar show... those many years ago. Before the show I waved Andy over and he was nice enough to take a photo with my folks. I nice memory for them of the night... thanks pal.

Andy talks of Cuba
With my experience managing crowds and venues, I knew we best leave during Andy’s final number to avoid the car stack up at the valet service (and another crowd was lined up for a second sold-out show that night!)  I was relieved that my folks and I were cruising down Highland, while people were standing Soylent Green style with their valet tickets in the parking garage. 

Between to legendary photographers: Gerd Ludwig & Douglas Kirkland
Also at Catalina’s, I had the great fortune to run into a wonderful photographer that I know from my association at the Annenberg Space for Photography; Douglas Kirkland (and his lovely wife, Francoise.) This gentleman is one of my favorite people, a true giant in his field (he has a great book of photos from his night photographing Marilyn Monroe.) Douglas told me that he’d recently photographed Andy (who had invited them to the show that night.)  Also at his table was the great National Geographic photographer Gerd Ludwig, I was lucky enough to get a great shot with these two legendary photographers.

Moral of this blog?…there's a lot of fun little things to do around this town… so maybe take your parents out sometime… you’ll have a great time and you never know who you might run into? And if you ever get a chance, go see Andy Garica and the CineSon All Stars! Hey Andy, next time put ol' Ray on the guest list for ol' time sake, will ya!

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