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Arts & Entertainment

Mike Sheehan's sketchbook: Elvis Costello at the Hollywood Bowl

Mike Sheehan's sketches of the Elvis Costello/Ben Folds/LA Phil concert at the Hollywood Bowl.
Mike Sheehan's sketches of the Elvis Costello/Ben Folds/LA Phil concert at the Hollywood Bowl.
Mike Sheehan

Artist Mike Sheehan has been sketching for Off-Ramp for a couple years now and has taken us across Southern California, from the Murrieta immigration protests to a gangster's hideout in Lake Arrowhead to Mayor Garcetti's inauguration. This time, it's a summer night at the Bowl.

Last Saturday I went to the Hollywood Bowl to see Elvis Costello and Ben Folds.

Symphony orchestras have a tradition of hosting rock musicians. Sometimes this isn't such a great idea. Metallica anyone? But sometimes the right rock musicians collide with the L.A. Phil, and it makes sense.

I've been a fan of Elvis Costello for a long time and been fascinated by his career. He seems fearless in exploring disparate musical styles and working with musicians and songwriters across genres. And he's a real practitioner of song-craft and ornate wordplay.

Saturday, it was rock's former "angry young man" turned gracious host and storyteller — kind of a study in how to age gracefully and stay relevant by constantly pushing yourself into new territory. And, judging by Saturday night, just having fun and enjoying what you do. I always imagine that it must be great to be free to explore more complex or new arrangements of your work with such a world-class group of musicians.

Costello and Folds both brought a sense of humor to the evening. But at the Bowl, it's just as much about the experience. I love the Bowl in the summer. Half the fun is getting there early, enjoying the wine, food, conversation and weather. When all the elements come together, it's amazing — one of those things I can always count on.

I did forget my usual dimmer book light for sketching, so I MacGyver'd a little button light with a paper napkin over it to dim it (didn't want to bother other listeners), cupped it in one hand, and hoped I got a few drawings.

I realized that I tend to hit the Bowl in late August or early September. It's this and not Labor Day that signals that my summer is coming to a close. I know Southern California has a kind of year-round summer, but I still always hate to let go of it.