Tearing into a perfectly charred, sauce-covered rack of ribs satisfies the stomach, and the knowledge that you made them yourself feeds the soul. Students can do just that in classes held by the nonprofit organization California BBQ Association, which shares all of its proceeds with children’s charities throughout the state. The course catalogue includes beginner and advanced classes led by pit masters such as Ric Gilbert, an inductee to the association’s hall of fame, and Harry Soo, a contestant from the first season of TLC’s BBQ Pitmasters. Fees cover the equipment and food needed to prepare dishes, freeing students from having to stop at a barbecue-sauce river and fill up some water bottles on their way to class.
For an organization going on 100 years old, the Los Angeles Philharmonic is distinctly unstodgy. The orchestra performs concerts that tunefully blend classical works with new pieces, and continually seeks new ways to engage audiences. Many evenings, for instance, are preceded by an Upbeat Live talk, covering the program's historical and cultural context and opening the floor for Q&As with guest artists. A thriving youth orchestra program, YOLA, shares the joys of classical music with a fresher-faced generation. And the Green Umbrella program invites guests to hear world-premiere compositions. That novel approach to listener engagement seems to have caught on—every year, the Los Angeles Philharmonic shares music with more than two million ears, or three million if you count that secret ear everyone has but no one talks about.
The Midwest Rock-n-Roll Express smuggles arena legends Styx, REO Speedwagon, and Ted Nugent into the great outdoors of the Greek Theatre with an inestimable cargo of sing-along classics. Styx has sparked the third rail since 1972 with prog-rock sensationalism, bolstering lighter-fluid epics such as "Come Sail Away" and "Babe" with complex riffs from crystalline synthesizers intertwined with power-chord crescendos and noodling from guitar giant Tommy Shaw. With founding frontman and falsetto specialist Kevin Cronin at the helm, fellow Prairie State juggernaut REO Speedwagon fills the stage with passionate chartbusters that made waterbed salesmen rich, from romantic ballads such as “Keep On Loving You" to the spurned-lover kiss-off "Take It on the Run." Kicking off the show, "Motor City Madman" and expert game hunter Ted Nugent revs his buzzsaw guitar through classics such as "Cat Scratch Fever" and "Stranglehold," all while protecting the audience from wild boars.
One of California’s largest and most renowned venues, Gibson Amphitheatre lives up to its stellar reputation as a go-to entertainment destination by corralling sought-after acts into its sprawling confines. More than 6,000 seats on two levels angle toward the stage, granting visitors easy, unobstructed views. A state-of-the-art sound system, meanwhile, allows event goers to rock out to dynamic tunes or hear even the softest whispers between an encouraging roadie and a nervous guitar making its debut performance.