Every Wednesday evening, The Standard Hotel turns its Cactus Lounge (dubbed for its desert mural panorama) into an intimate setting for musicians to connect with their audience as they play a special acoustic set. Desert Nights is a nice—and free—rest-stop after some serious shopping at our store located inside the hotel.

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We think it’s a perfect end to a longer-than-you’d-like workday. Imagine yourself in Joshua Tree but in a living room-like setting, surrounded by some gentle music by local L.A. artists like Justine Bennett, Mattson 2 and Preston Perry. Bonus points for Sunset Boulevard’s open air enjoyed with a Grapefruit Gimlet.

Between sets we caught up with the evening’s host, KCRW’s DJ Valida, named “one of the most important figures in L.A.’s nightlife scene,” by LA.com, to get a bit more perspective on the weekly occasion:

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DJ Valida 

How are you involved with Desert Nights?
I organize the musicians and host the evening. The gathering started in June of 2010 and has evolved into a classic cultural hub over the years. It all started with a vision for friends to have a place where they can play their music, and we have steadily grown quite nicely over time.

How do you pick the musicians for the evening?
We have a few regulars like Justine Bennett (she’s amazing) and then we have others like the Mattson 2, who are new to the night and bring a whole new style to the table. It’s fun to change things up and not make it so formal. I am sort of over formalities. Let’s just create something cool for everyone to enjoy.

What’s your favorite part of Desert Nights?
The connection between the audience and the musician—it’s so up close and personal. The night is so intimate and we get a glimpse into the private life of the musician. I love that it’s just listening to music and there is no pretention. There’s a feeling of reciprocity for both musician and audience. They need each other for this to work.

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A couple Palm Canyon frames by the pool

Next time you’re in Hollywood, keep this event in your back pocket. (It’s handy for that special date night.)


Photos by Sarah Shreves

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