Young, Rivers debut

Kenley is becoming a regular on the stage at The Cinema Bar in Culver City, where he returned for a Labor Day show with special guest and fellow Columbia, S.C., expat Lorrie Rivers.

The Cinema Bar is apparently known for throwing barbecues on its comfy back porch on holiday weekends, and whenever else they feel like it. Around here, “barbecue” means hot dogs and hamburgers on the grill, not slow-cooked pulled pork, as in the South. Still, people don’t often offer free food in this town, and the burgers were quite yummy, so I’m definitely not complaining.

Cinema Bar is the type of place where the regulars instructed the newbies not to be shy and to step up to the grill and ask for what they wanted.  We sat at picnic tables surrounded by a glowing fish tank and a vintage fridge.

Shelley Young, Karen O'Brien, Shawn O'Brien, Elizabeth Lynn and Lorrie Rivers

It reminded me a little of one of the music festivals on holiday weekends at the Art Bar in Columbia  — relaxed, unpretentious with the potential for getting rowdy.

The first singer of the night was Ryan Saliman. Turns out that Kenley and I had met him a while back when we visited the City Tavern, where Saliman is a bartender. He had just moved from New York to pursue his music career, and at the time he gave Kenley his card. Saliman, who is originally from Denver, sings with a little twang, which you don’t hear too often in Los Angeles. You can check out his music on his website. He’s got upcoming shows at The Cinema Bar.

Kenley sang a set of originals, including new song “Signal,” as well as older tunes, including “A Place Where Nothing Grows” and “Seen and Discovered” from his solo album, “Standard Candle.” He also performed vintage Fling favorite “No More Than Enough.”  You can hear all the songs — except the unrecorded “Signal” — on his website.

Lorrie joined him for the debut of the titular track from “Standard Candle,” a song that Kenley wrote for a female lead singer. His fellow “Rocky Horror” tribute band alum Carrie Phillips sings the song on the album. Find it on his website or on iTunes.

Lorrie has started playing a ukulele,  Madeleine, since moving to Los Angeles nearly a year ago. She and Kenley performed her song “How Can I Love You More?” Check out Lorrie’s website for more.

The highlight of the night was Lorrie and Kenley’s arrangement of Radiohead’s “Creep.” It was one of those moments when everyone in the room gets quiet because the performance demands attention. It gave me the chills and makes me want to cry just thinking about it. Their version was more lonely and heartbreaking than angry, and the lyrics, I think, take on a new meaning for the singers and everyone in the room who is or has struggled to find their way in the huge City of Angels.

I don’t care if it hurts.
I want to have control.
I want a perfect body.
I want a perfect soul.
I want you to notice
When I’m not around.
You’re so fucking special.
I wish I was special.

Kenley followed that by letting loose and having fun with a set of some of his favorite cover songs, including Lou Reed’s “Waiting for My Man,” Pete Yorn’s “Strange Condition,” and “Under the Milky Way” by The Church. He also performed his signature covers of the Counting Crows’ “Rain King” and David Allan Coe’s “You Never Even Called Me By My Name,” and he wrapped things up with a Beatles’ medley from “Abbey Road” (“Mean Mr. Mustard” / “Polythene Pam” / “She Came in Through the Bathroom Window”).

Monday’s show was an unofficial birthday party for Kenley, whose real birthday is actually Sept. 11, so Lorrie led everyone in singing “Happy Birthday” before Kenley finished up the set.

Thanks again to all our new friends that we’ve met through and through food night for your support. Thanks also to The Cinema Bar and Charles Saltzman for the burgers, and for booking Kenley.

Kenley plays Thursday, Sept. 22, at Molly Malone’s on Fairfax, where he’ll again be joined by the lovely and talented Lorrie Rivers. Hope to see you there!


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