January 23, 2011

When I sat down to write about The Troubadour Family Reunion last Monday night, I decided to let some of the people who were there tell about it in their own words. Photographer/ artist, “Lezlie Sokol”, a former waitress at the club and one of the organizers of the event, had this to say,

“The music and the love that was with us decades ago was with us again on Monday night. It wasn’t a re-creation…it was a continuation.  We all came together with the spirit that was The Troubadour, those times and we people who were there were re-animated and Doug Weston’s dream came alive within all of us for one more magical night!”

Photographer/ musician Henry Diltz  Reminisced, “The Troubadour was my old stomping ground starting in 1962 when my folk group, The Modern Folk Quartet, played there 3 days after we arrived from Honolulu. We were signed to an agency and record company from that one performance.

At the reunion the other night we were able to reconnect with many old and dear friends. We are all the same young age in our minds as we were those years ago, but now we look like our parents and grandparents. Many of us who were musicians went with the Troubadour waitresses back then, and I had a drink at the bar with my old girlfriend, Alexa, a former waitress. The live music at the reunion was epic stuff as Bob Lind, Van Dyke Parks, Jackson Browne, Rick Cuna, David Jackson, Michael McGuiness, Ruthann Friedman and others took the stage.

I remember photographing Bob Lind in the room which is now the bar but was then McCabe’s guitar shop. It’s a rare thing these days to walk into a bar and find it full of people you know…just like the good old days.”

Allan Rinde, former “underground tastemaker” and Chinese Restaurateur said, “Aside from seeing a few old friends I’d lost contact with and meeting some new ones, there was just this sense of energy at Doug Weston’s Troubadour (glad they kept his name on it) that made this evening a great success. Of course it all dissipated the next day when I realized that while I was having a good time at the good old Troub, Don Kirchner lay dying in a hospital in Boca Raton. Oh, the humanity! And one more thing: thank you Jackson for the tribute to Warren Zevon and for the love you put into your set that night.

Publicist Bobbi Cowan commented, “It was an amazing evening, full of surprises and warm memories and feelings. One of the best was seeing you there, along with Allan, Kimble and Patti, Billy James, Ronnie Haffkine, Ochs and Sandee, and so many of our pals from way back when.  The music was AWESOME, particularly Van Dyke Parks and Jackson, and it made me feel like those magical days and nights were not a distant dream, but TRULY real.  Somebody should put a documentary together with the stories from so many of the colorful and funny people who helped to create this business we once loved (and subsequently watched dissolve in the greed of the last 20-30 years.)

Former KMET DJ Richard Kimble chimed in, “It looked like a meeting of the aarp, rock division”…….”It’s the only time I’ve gone to the Troub and remembered being there”…..Hey I’m here all week, try the veal!!!!!!!”

Producer Ron Haffkine (Dr.Hook, Shel Silverstein) remarked, “What a blast!!! as I posted on fb before the event, I really believe that some of the success of the reunion had to do with Artie working hard letting people know about it….I think we all know that when Artie promotes something, things happen….I couldn’t have had a better time….Ran into someone from the very first act I ever produced..Long time ago…Also one of the members of DR HOOK that I hadn’t seen in a while…I flew in from Nashville just for this reunion and to see some of my dear friends that I don’t get to see often enough….Hope there’s another one sooner rather than later…I don’t want to be on that list just inside the door….”

The list that Ron is referring to is one with names of people who are no longer with us who had a link to the Troubadour (This list will be posted on the official reunion website.)

The evening’s host Larry Murray said “Amazing..Grace! Heartfelt thanx to all who made it a nite to be cherished..organizers..performers..audience..lounge lizards.. and the eternal spirit of the Troubadour… for making my nite an absolute ‘Holy Hoot’ !!!”

Publicist/ cyclist Billy James, seen here with singer/ songwriter Penny Nichols’ …

Photographer/guitar maker Loni Specter exclaimed, “Artie it was so good to see you and Allan Rinde there! So many faces I thought I’d never see again. A truly frightening experience! It was a great night indeed!”

Songwriter/former member of the Association, Terry Kirkman reflected, “I had a good time but was somewhat disappointed at the low turn out of performers. I wish there had been some forum provided for shared stories. what surprised me most, though, was that after an hour of making the round and reading the nametags I found the number of familiar old time regulars to be enough to give me a true blue de ja vu….with my feelings for those there very much the same as I remember them being all those years ago…. like thumbing through an album of pictures….. nodding acquaintances mostly…. just a couple of real honest to goodness friends…but very, very glad I went…very glad I got to share it with my wife who was not around here in those days. i wish we’d had time to talk, artie…maybe next time around. god bless.”

Music publisher Don Williams exclaimed, “It was a very special evening the Troubadour Reunion this past Monday.  Thank you
for putting the story on your web page and giving the emphasis needed to ensure success.  I had a wonderful time”

Naomi Riopelle, another one of the organizers of the Reunion remarked, “I think the idea was to gather together and perhaps to relive a memory of a time and place, with the music and the people that in a very significant way helped to shape our lives and make us who we are…whether or not we realized it back then . I believe we succeeded……”

Bass player Colin Cameron smiled and said, “It seems an unbroken circle finally completed its rounds at the Reunion, as my music career and post-Vietnam service civilian life really began with the people I met at the Troubadour, and the many great acts I was able to listen to there.  It was a joy to see so many of them once again.”

Journalist  Susanella Rogers said, “Just another night at the Troub: Michael Ochs refused to leave the bar, Todd Everett refused to leave the showroom, Bobbi Cowan spoke to Every Single Person There, and the girl in the box office couldn’t find my name on the list.

Finally here’s my pal from the past journalist/blogger Todd Everett with the wrap-up for the evening,

“It was one of the most amazing nights of my life! I have heard so much love and joy expressed about the success of this event and how beautifully it brought back a time in a place that was so brilliant in it’s day. No place on earth ever rivaled what happened at Doug Weston’s Troubadour ever! How blessed we all have been to have been there then and then again last Monday night.

Like most of us, I didn’t know what to expect from the Troubadour Family Reunion. But several people I knew would be coming — mostly people I saw fairly often, but an indication of quality. So at the very least it would be worthwhile on that level.

As it turned out, of course, the thing had become a real event. I’ll name some of the people I knew; I’m sure others had the same experience with people they knew.

Maureen Donaldson (shown with Sandee Lewis Ochs), bless her soul, had come in from England; she swears specifically for the event. Matt Kramer had no other reason I know of for having returned to West Hollywood from wherever it is he’s living these days (Texas, I think), and former hoot master Roger Perry arrived from Oregon. Artie Wayne, whom I sadly didn’t see this time, and Richard Kimball, whom I did, had come in from the desert. Michael Ochs took time from promoting the documentary about his late brother, and counting his own money. I knew it was the Troubadour bar, I told them, when the first faces I saw were Michael, and Alan Rinde.

By the time I left – 11:30 or so – Alan, Artie and several others had already retreated to Genghis Cohen, the restaurant Alan had owned, and Artie named and hosted for however many years (has he ever mentioned that?).

Though the layout of the main room has changed quite a bit — much larger stage; no tables; bar in the back — it was familiar enough that I might have been back in the ’70s, which was pretty much my era, though years earlier I’d driven 60 miles down the coast from Ventura to see acts including the Dillards (with Roger Miller opening), when the stage was still at what’s now the left-hand wall.

I spent half an hour or so in the bar, meeting old pals and choking on a piece of cheese; when Lezlie asked for a glass of water for me, the guy behind our end of the bar said we’d have to go to the woman at the other end. If I’d died from asphyxiation, my survivors would stand to make a fortune! Oddly, when I recovered, he was able to sell me a drink without consulting the other bartender. Ah, the Troubadour!

I’ll let others get into the acts – Van Dyke, Jackson, and so on; but will add that I was very impressed by two “second generation” groups, fronted by people whose parents had (in one case sort of) worked at the Troubadour. Paul Riopelle, whose mother Naomi was a long-time waitress at the club, was in a rock band called The Motion with Steven Wolfson and Dsvid Jenkins; the three members of Blackfire are all the progeny of Berta Benally, who was more of an Ash Grove person, really, but was right at home in this company. Native Americans of the Navajo nation, Blackfire is more “indian” than Redbone, and played a strong mix of contemporary, punk and traditional music. Had I a label (and everybody can be thankful I don’t), I’d sign them in a minute. As it stands, they already record; their more recent album produced by Ed Stasium, whose credits include the Ramones, Talking Heads and Smithereens. In other words, they need no help from me, even if I were in a position to give it to ‘em.
One disappointment: three members of Hearts & Flowers were present: Larry Murray, Rick Cunha and David Jackson. But they didn’t see fit to reconvene, even though Jackson did back Cunha on a solo set, along with anybody else who needed a bass player.

That, too, was just like the old days.”

— Todd Everett

To know more about the evening click onto the official TROUBADOUR FAMILY REUNION WEBSITE

Thanks to Henry Diltz for the photo of Jackson Browne

to Pete Senoff for the photo of Maureen Donaldson and Sandee Lewis Ochs. Richard Kimball, Michael Ochs, Allan Rinde, Pete Senoff and Bobbi Cowan

to George Steele for the photo of billy James and Penny Nichols

to Sean McKenna from X-SITE MEDIA for the photo of Me, Ron Haffkine and Van Dyke Parks

to photographer/ guitar maker Loni Specter for the Photo of Blackfire

to Coleen M. Pumfrey for the photo of the Troubadour sign

Special thanks to “Lezlie Sokol” and Sally Stevens for helping me with this article. You can click on to the fourth installment of Sally’s riveting JIM MORRISON STORY at

Copyright 2011 by Artie Wayne-

for those might not have recognized me at the reunion with my beard…I shaved




  1. An old friend Says:

    I would have loved to have been at this reunion! I lived in the West Hollywood area from 1974 until 1989 when I was entrenched in the music biz and have my own numerous wild memories of visiting “The Troub” and hanging with Doug (crazy times upstairs in his office to be sure) and some of those who attended the “class reunion” last week.

    I don’t know whether or not it’s been mentioned in this blog or in comments about the reunion event, but there are segments (with several photos) about the club and a couple of the most notable nights there in the documentary “Who Is Harry Nilsson (And Why Is Everybody Talking About Him)” which was released last fall, including sound bites from May Pang.

    If you haven’t seen this truly great biopic, it truly is a “must-see” and is sure to bring wonderful memories to those who knew Harry or were involved in “the biz” back in “the day.”

    The official website for the movie is

    Meanwhile, seeing the photos of the reunion that have been posted online was a true mind-blowing experience!

  2. Wow! I’m coming to LA tomorrow to visit Marcia Strassman, and she and I certainly should have been at this reunion! What wonderful memories were triggered reading this. Smiles all round. Tom Wolfe said you can’t go home, but one can certainly visit and remember! Troubadour was home for all of us.
    The kindnesses Doug Weston showed me through the years will never be forgotten. I remember well one very hot afternoon in the valley at A&M Records summer picnic when he’d brought an air conditioned trailer to the grounds, but that’s another story.
    Thank you, Artie for promoting this and sharing the tale!

  3. vikki Sallee-Dillard Says:

    Congratulations on the event finally happening!!!! Glad everyone had a good time and so many showed up. How cool!!!! Doug Dillard says to say hello to everyone and he wished he had been there, Me I am a true country girl and stayed in Nashville, or should I say Hillbilly Hollywood….. Come visit us at

  4. Lezlie Sokol Says:

    January 17, 2O11. What a night! I don’t think anyone who was there will ever forget it. So many familiar faces. The mix was perfect. Just as I remembered it. Some of top movers and shakers in the music industry, the publicists, singer/songwriters, PR people, writers, reviewers and photographers, performers and former employees filled the entire club just as they did in the days of our time there.

    There are so many people to thank for the success of this Reunion. I want to thank my co-organizers Naomi Riopelle, Pam Beale McKenna, Roger Perry and Harriet Bickel. Thanks to Larry Murray who stepped in at the last moment to put our show together in lightening speed. I want to give special thanks to my dear friend, Sally Stevens. Her help was invaluable in so many ways. Also, thanks to Lisa Kozak who helped wrangle folk all over the country from her home in Chicago. Of course, to Artie Wayne, Todd Everett, Allan Rinde and all of the people who helped spread word through the grapevine. Just about every single member of the Troubadour Family Reunion Group also helped spread the word. Our little party became quite the buzz.

    I also want to thank our second generationers for taking up the torch to keep the music alive: Paul Reopelle for putting together our Facebook Group page, his band Motion for performing and Sean McKenna of X-Site Media Los Angeles for handling the room and music production aspects of the event along with Mike Austin, also of XMLA, for designing and maintaining our web page. Thanks to Jackson and Alaina for working so hard for us. And to Blackfire. What a performance.

    A special thanks to the many musicians who performed for us including a surprise performance by Jackson Browne.

    Artie, I can’t thank you enough for your wonderful articles about The Troubadour Family Reunion and your help in spreading the word and “encouraging” your friends to attend. It would not have been the historic event it was without your participation and contributions.

    Let us not forget the man who made all of this possible. Doug Weston. Love him or hate him, he is the one who provided us with a home for the family. Rock in Perpetuity, dear friend. I know we made you proud and happy.

    As Sleuth Mistress for The Troubadour Family Reunion, I could not have done my job without any of you, including all of you who attended. We are family. And that is what this event was about, the Troubadour Family. I am honored and privileged to have been a part of this. Thank you all for making my job the pleasure it was.

  5. What a lovely and gracious post, Lezlie. Hope you’re getting some well-deserved rest!

  6. Nancy Able Frank Says:

    January 17 2011
    As I did for the very first time, I arrived with Dickie Davis who first took me to Hoot night back in the 60’s, old friends now,we parted as we each saw old friends from decades ago. I had the most wonderful time sitting with Carol Hunter and laughing as if no time had passed. I could hear Lezlie running around, working the room, saw so many faces of beautiful people that had aged like fine wine.I felt for just a few hours that I was young and full of life. That feeling seemed to fill the audience as we listened to all the performers sing and play. Hell when I walked outside to go over to Dan Tana’s even Harry Dean was sitting in front by the door looking slightly forlorn as usual.
    I am so grateful to all the people who made this happen ,all the old friends i was reunited with…and the trouble I caught for getting in at nearly 3am!!!!

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