Live Music in NELA

2018 Editions Picks September


Beyoncé and Jay-Z are coming to the Rose Bowl on Sept. 22 and Sept. 23. The Hollywood Bowl and the Greek Theater have their own big line ups. It’s going to be an amazing month.

But for the music (+ food + performance) scene that defines NELA, you have to stay local, including:

Zebulon | Café Concert / 2478 Fletcher Dr. / Elysian Valley
Located in Frogtown, Zebulon offers an exciting, unusual mix of performers. A not-to-miss pick in September: On Wednesday, Sept. 5 and Thursday, Sept. 6, Roscoe Mitchell, a great composer and musician (saxophone and other wind instruments) performs with Christina Wheeler, pictured below, a powerhouse vocalist, composer and multi-instrument electronic musician. Zebulon opens at 5 p.m., dinner starts at 6 p.m., the event space opens at 8 p.m. and the show starts at 9 p.m. / A performance schedule and tickets – generally $10 to $20 – are available at / Unless noted otherwise, it’s age 21+ only.

Lodge Room and Checker Hall  / 104 N. Avenue 56, 2nd floor / Highland Park
The former Highland Park Masonic Lodge now houses a music venue, the Lodge Room, with space for 500 people, and a Mediterranean restaurant, Checker Hall.

The Lodge Room features indie and local artists with most shows open to all ages. Tickets can be bought online or at the door (if not sold out). If you only go to one show in September, make it, Jazz Is Dead, the release party for new album “Resistance” by Brandon Coleman, shown below, on Thursday, Sept. 13. / $20 / Doors open at 8 p.m. /

Checker Hall will showcase Riley Geare on Tuesdays in September. Geare, a longtime studio musician, producer and touring sideman, recently released his solo debut album, “The Trip, Vol 1,” a blend of jazz fusion, soul and cinematic soundscapes.

ETA / 5630 N. Figueroa St. / Highland Park
An intimate bar featuring both live and DJ’d music in addition to specialty drinks, small dinner plates and sandwiches. Jeff Parker, pictured below, the jazz and rock guitarist, is there on most Mondays with special guests, starting at 9 p.m. For details on Parker’s shows and the line ups for other nights of the week, follow ETA on Instagram, @etahlp. Most shows are 21+ and if there is a cover, it is usually $5.

The Hi Hat / 5043 York Blvd / Highland Park
This former pool hall, converted in 2016 into a nightclub serving beer and wine, is general admission, standing room only for most shows, with some limited bar and bench seating. Food is burgers, fries and shakes from Burgerlords at the pop up window. Hot ticket for September:  The Primals, a hard-rock band of seasoned pros, are having a new-record release show on Friday, Sept. 7. / Tickets are $10 and $12, on sale at (Cash only at the door.) / Check or social media @HiHatLA for other bands, dates, set times and age restrictions; some shows are 21+ only, some are 18+ and some are all ages.

Cafe Nela / 1906 Cypress Ave. / Cypress Park
Despite its name, Cafe Nela is a bar (21+ only ) serving beer and live music. To say the place is no frills is being nice, but frills don’t mix anyway with the punk, hard rock, heavy metal, experimental music that Cafe Nela is known for. For September – Cafe Nela’s five-year anniversary – more than 40 bands have been booked, including The Mormons (Thursday, Sept 20), Carnage Asada (Friday, Sept. 21) and Pedal Strike (Saturday, Sept. 22). Check for details. Cafe Nela will be closed on Sunday, Sept. 9 for Rosh Hashanah. Happy New Year 5779.

Colombo’s Italian Steakhouse & Jazz Club / 1833 Colorado Blvd. / Eagle Rock
In 2017, the L.A. Weekly described Colombo’s as one of L.A.’s “essential” restaurants, “the type of community – and the type of fun – that hasn’t been commonplace in L.A. restaurants for decades.” There’s food, drink and live jazz performed nightly in the dining room, you can also listen and watch from the bar. Performers include Elliott Caine, shown below, of the Elliott Caine Quartet (Saturday, Sept. 15 / 9:30 to midnight), the Eric Ekstrand Trio (Mondays in September / 7 p.m. to midnight) and Trifecta (Thursdays in September / 7 p.m. to midnight). For details, go to

Music at the Library for Kids and Adults

Public libraries in and near NELA offer music performances and classes. Here’s a sample:

Arroyo Seco Regional Library / 6145 N. Figueroa St. / Highland Park

Paul Stein, a violinist with the Los Angeles Philharmonic for 36 years, will perform selections from Bach’s great unaccompanied Sonatas and Partitas and Vivaldi’s “Seasons.” He will also discuss how the childhoods of Bach and Vivaldi say a lot about the music they created. / Saturday, Sept. 8 / 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. /

Echo Park Branch Library / 1410 W. Temple St / Historic Filipinotown

Louie Cruz Beltran, an entertainer, singer and percussionist, presents an interactive solo demonstration packed with humor and exciting world rhythms from the roots of rhythm to present-day percussion styles. / Saturday, Sept. 8 / 3 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Silver Lake Branch Library / 2411 Glendale Blvd. / Silver Lake

Children age 6 and older can drop in for classes in music composition on Thursdays, 4:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m, starting Sept. 6. Class includes some keyboard harmony and drum instruction. No prior music study is required.