Backstage: Los Angeles Interviews

When I attend a concert, I like to watch the guitar player?s fingering. Boulevard Music in Los Angeles is one of a handful of venues that allows me to do just that (no big screen required), while listening to some of the best real musicians around. Gary Mandell is the man responsible for bringing in this talent. Gary?s music background is a key ingredient for creating a musical oasis, hidden away in a town driven by computer-generated music, CD downloads, and one-hit wonders whose vocals are remixed and cleaned up ad infinitum to create ?a product? that is appropriately sold in plastic.

I spoke with Gary after a recent concert / CD release party, and asked him about the venue, his musical background, and his obvious passion for everything that Boulevard Music offers. Gary has been playing guitar for 43 years, and has given guitar and keyboard instruction since 1968. He knows Folk, Rock, Acoustic and Electric Blues, Jazz (Improvisation), Country (including Chet Atkins style), and classical styles, as well as arranging and orchestration. Some of his credits include arranging and orchestration for the L.A. Philharmonic to the Tonight Show band. He utilizes his experience as a producer and a musician to select the musicians who play at Boulevard Music based on their talent, rather than their notability. DON?T confuse that with the misconception that you won?t know who?s playing. It DOES mean that the acts you will see there are first-class musicians, who may or may not be notable. Boulevard Music is also one of the only music stores in Los Angeles that?s run by a music teacher who is still teaching music.

The Beatles, Grady Martin (?El Paso?), and Chet Atkins influenced Gary?s interest in music. When asked which musician past or present, he most would like to be able to sit and jam with, his response was ?John Lennon? but not just to jam with, to be able to sit and talk with.? I asked Gary to share what advice he would give to an aspiring musician. He said ?Take lessons, figure out where you want to be musically (the genre and level of ability)?find someone who is already doing that, and ideally study with them. Gary studied under Albert Harris.

Albert Harris was born in London on February 13, 1916 and moved to New York in 1938. He gained a Doctor of Music degree at New York College of Music. In 1942, he moved to Los Angeles, and eventually became musical director at NBC for several years, followed by film work.

Boulevard Music is located at 4316 Sepulveda Blvd., Culver City, CA 90230

-Sandy Jacobson-
1-17-07

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