There was an all-too-brief stretch in my nomadic L.A. childhood spent living within walking distance to the Hollywood Bowl, leading to several occasions when my mother and I would decide on a summertime dime to pack some snacks and hoof it across Cahuenga and down Odin and up to a couple of cheap seats to listen to Zubin Mehta conduct the orchestra and develop my appreciation for classical music. Tchaikovsky? Mendelsohn? Beethoven? Yeah, them and more. But it didn’t really matter what was on the program for the evening. Just being out there in the Santa Anas under the stars was perfect with the music wafting up to us occasionally accompanied by the hoots and hollers of neighboring owls or coyotes in the hillside to the rear.
In my transition from a punkass kid to a punkass adult I’ve been many times since; for jazz festivals and rock concerts and world music and even the rare Easter sunrise and while I’ve always felt the venue itself is a large part of my enjoyment and whoever’s on the stage is just extra gravy, last night’s show proved it to be the other way around. Headlined by Pink Martini and featuring the irrepressible Carol Channing, legendary French crooner Henri Salvador and the eclectic MarchFourth Marching Band, all backed by the Hollywood Bowl orchestra with Thomas Wilkins at the baton — and a fireworks finale to boot! — “Pink Martini at the Cocoanut Grove” brought to the historic venue a spirited verve and energetic style that transported the audience back the time when that landmark Wilshire Boulevard nightclub was king.
And they’ll do it again tonight at 8:30 and Sunday at 7:30 p.m.