Notes and Notices

On art, architecture and design


Soul searching

Posted by Carren Jao Pineda |

I have been to my share of clubs and I never really liked it much. The scene was always the same: men and women dressed to the nines all sporting thousand-yard stares, as if waiting for something to happen. They look bored to me, despite the insistent thmp thmp thmp of the music.

Harvelle's isn't any of that. Hidden in plain sight on Santa Monica's 4th street, the club is where people go for good soul music. None of that Top 40s stuff, just amazing vocals, live instruments and a crowd that knows how to get swept away by it all.

I found out about this long-standing club inside the pages of Los Angeles magazine's "Classic LA to Z" issue. Within its short pithy description, the magazine dropped the words Otis Redding-inspired soul music and I was sold. Live music plays almost every night to inside a dimly lit bar with a slinky walkway down to the dance floor. Despite complaints about its cramped space, I found it perfect for swaying and bobbing to the music.

The night we came, we were lucky to get $10 tickets for a double header with Tasha Taylor, daughter of R&B singer Johnnie Taylor, and Dessie Di Lauro. Truth to tell, I haven't heard of either one of them, but that didn't stop them from impressing me. Open since 1931, Harvelle's has a well-deserved reputation for knowing how to pick 'em. I hear there's jazz mixed in with burlesque dancing on Sundays too.

When the shoes come off, it's a sign of a good time.

Despite its bar selection, make sure to eat well before going inside. Harvelle's doesn't offer any snacks, just booze. That could be a good and bad thing, depending on how you look at it. I had Greed (a drink mixed in with Frangelico, a hazelnut-based alcohol, and dark creme de cocoa) and a Gypsy Woman (a hot coffee-based drink with Kahlua and Bailey's). My husband snuck out to get pretzels nearby as the night wore on. Despite the lack of eats, there was still good music and great energy in the house. I'd definitely be back for more.

Here's one of my favorite songs of the night. See how you like it:

1432 4th Street
Santa Monica, CA


Get updates via RSS