Kraig Grady and Cory Beers at the Red Dragon

On March 8, I set out to hear Kraig Grady and Cory Beers perform (on hammered dulcimer and tabla, respectively) at Red Dragon Studios, a combination recording studio and small night club in Hollywood, near the corner of Sunset Boulevard and Highland Avenue.

The Dragon caters to a youngish, darkly boho sort of crowd, epitomized by the friendly, informal and punked-out ticket seller.

I felt at home; I grew up in this neighborhood, and, when I was in high school, I would go out to clubs in Hollywood that allowed teens, like the Garret and the Blue Grotto, places where we kids could chill out, listen to music, and talk with people older than we were who weren’t trying to tell us what to do. The Dragon has a bar, so no teens, but the twenty-somethings talked with me happily.

There actually IS a red dragon in the Red Dragon, the sort that performs the Lion Dance and eats money at Chinese New Years events. It didn’t look red in the gloom of the ceiling where it hung, but when I aimed a flash at it, I discovered it really is quite garishly red. It presides over a gaggle of red Chinese paper lanterns, fans and umbrellas in a black painted room.

While Kraig and Cory set up, a DJ blared and a series of Powerpoint projections of LA people and scenes in slide show rotation illuminated the stage.

By comparison, Kraig and Cory’s music was an oasis for the mind, heart, spirit and soul. Kraig’s hammered dulcimer had magnificent overtones that sometimes sounded to me like a Muslim call to prayer. Cory brought four dayan (the higher drums of the tabla set) and tuned each one to a different note in the scale in which Kraig’s instrument was tuned, so that the drum functioned more like a bass melodic instrument.

Many of the young club crowd stood motionless and listened, enchanted by the cascade of sounds.

Kraig and Cory played without haste and without pause for about 45 minutes.

After Kraig and Cory packed up, the band Kaora took the stage, five young men in black with a purposeful rock demean. Their fans were pleased to see them. I’d already had enough high volume electronics for one night from the DJ, so I thanked Kraig and Cory, and headed home, very happy.