Last night, Thursday, Oct 15:  Once again, we played Arnie’s Café in Tujunga, as guests of Mark “Pocket” Goldberg, Randy Sacks and the remarkable house band.  I now pretty much know everyone in the band – Mark on bass, Nick Kirgo (guitar), Dave Fraser (piano), Debra Dobkin (drums,) and on pedal-steel, none other than JayDee Maness.  So this time I did two things I didn’t do last time:  First and foremost, I brought CHARTS.  My friend, Stan Ayeroff made them for “Laraine,” “Night Blooming Jasmine,” “My Kisses,” “Table Nine,” “One-Way Road,” and “Goodbye, Aloha.”  I printed them up on slightly heavy laser paper.  Each song is two pages, which I taped together.  I normally have fun on stage, so… I’m not sure it’s so amazing that I had a lot of fun.  And to have JayDee Maness playing on “Table Nine,” my odd little tribute to Merle Haggard, was indescribable.  More about the music in a moment.
The second thing I did that I didn’t do last time was eat.  I had the chipotle chicken pasta dish.  Original and great.  I loved it.  The chef’s name is Chris.  He’s Italian.  He’s just so good.  Next time I’m going to try the pesto pasta.  Gene (Lippmann) had that and it looked great.  Someone at my table had linguini with clams.  He seemed to like it, but to me it looked very watery.  That was the first thing I’ve seen there that didn’t look good.  I think when it gets too busy there, things fall apart a little.  They need a helper in the kitchen and probably another waitress, although the one they had was fabulous.  She handled a full house alone.  It doesn’t hurt that she’s really cute and actually listens to the music.
Shaun Cromwell played after me.  If you’ve never seen him, do.  To coin an overused phrase – he’s the real deal.  Or as one of my friends’ puts it – “this guy’s the guy.”  (  It was interesting to see Shaun with that band.  He had some charts, but not for all the songs he did last night.  Everything sounded great and got better and better.  Speaking of sounding great, last time we played this gig, the sound wasn’t as good as it was last night.  It was perfect this time.  I don’t know if something changed or we just had a better mix in the monitors this time.  Randy Sacks was handling it all and he stayed on top of it.
Arnie’s house band just kicks ass and there’s no other way to put it.  I love that song of Randy’s called “I’m Depending on You.”  I don’t think he’d mind my comparing him to Costello.  I love Mark’s song about Walking… I can’t remember the exact title… unless it’s “Walking.”  And Dave Fraser did an amazing song.  And Debra just keeps everything steady.  Really, any Thursday night out there will rock – you can’t miss.  Great food, great show.
I was also blown away by how many friends and fans showed up.  The house was full.  I guess they live out there.  I look forward to playing there again.  I’m having more charts made up.
Tracy Newman