Last night was terrific. Arnie’s Café in Tujunga is “where it’s happening,” so to speak. First of all, and possibly more importantly than anyone realizes, the food is truly excellent. Pastas, salads, etc. Really inventive and mouth-watering, and not too pricey. Lorie and Gene each had a chicken/chipotle pasta that was creamy but not overly so, really delicious and original. I’m on a self-styled diet, so I didn’t have that, but I will next time… (after I lose those five pounds.) I think just about everyone there ordered dinner. It was a very good house, and everyone cleaned their plates. So, all I’m saying is, if you want to be a music venue that draws customers and makes money, have an innovative chef and menu. And great service doesn’t hurt. They’ve got the restaurant thing down at Arnie’s.

Now, about the music: Mark “Pocket” Goldberg knows how to put on a show and attract the great musicians. One thing that’s going on there is… lead sheets. Sheet music. Music charts. That way, a stellar pedal-steel guy like Jay Dee Maness ( can be up there the whole night if he wants to. True, he might not need a lead sheet — he had no trouble playing “Goodbye, Aloha,” on the fly, but I’m sure he prefers sheet music. I also was blessed with the solid support of Debra Dobkin on drums.

With music charts, Mark Goldberg can play bass along with everyone. It’s always nice to have that bottom. Can you tell that I wish I had brought charts? I also wish I had carefully written down names, because every musician that wandered up there to sit in was amazing. The guy in the red shirt at the piano, who sang some great originals; Glen Clark who has played with everyone – I know him from when I was producing According to Jim – he’s the leader of Jim Belushi’s band Sacred Hearts, and he’s played with everyone, which to me means Bonnie Raitt. Nick Kirgo and the woman in the black shirt, who I think is his wife – they had a wonderful vocal blend… I wish I had written down all the names! Randy Sachs… I love him. Stan Ayeroff who was there with his 13 year old son Zander, got up and played guitar with Glen. That was very cool. I know I’m forgetting someone very heavy, but I’ve already said enough. Don’t miss those Mark “Pocket” Goldberg nights at Arnie’s.

Tracy Newman, 8-7-09