The Sunset Strip’s definitive hold as Los Angeles’ music epicenter grew stronger when The Sun Rose officially opened its doors this spring. An extension of The Britely Social Club, the new music venue is part of the Pendry Hotel West Hollywood, meaning it sits on the legendary grounds of the former House of Blues. Over the past year, the 150-capacity welcomed acts like Jeff Goldblum, Jack Harlow and Nicole Scherziner, among others.
Buzz continues to build at The Sun Rose with its high-curated lineup of acts that continues in July with Polish composer Hania Rani, Mazza (a multicultural live afro beats night) and Mike Garson, David Bowie’s longtime pianist whose residency has already featured Evan Rachel Wood, Jake Wesley Rogers and insightful tales about The Starman himself.
Angelenos can look back on the June 22 show featuring Goldblum and The Mildred Snitzer Orchestra for an example of what to expect. Fresh from a visit to Milan for Prada’s Spring Summer ‘23 fashion show, the actor (wearing a Prada boilersuit, of course) weaved through the crowd ahead of the performance to namecheck and chat with those on the guestlist. Between songs, the banter continued with movie quote quizzes and prompts of This or That?: “Bath or shower?” “Cats or dogs?” “Britney or Jamie Lynn?” There were only cheers for the elder Spears.
As The Sun Rose dives head first into its official opening, we spoke with booker Sharyn Goldyn.
How do you assess which talent get to grace The Sun Rose stage?
The Sun Rose is extremely keen on curation, so we really get to be strategic and put on shows that are really special. So for me, I want the most talented artists in the world on the stage, and that's whether or not they're famous. So we have programmed residencies with The Rocha Collective, which has members that have played with all of the most famous musicians today. They've played with Beyonce— they're the hired guns that the popular musicians have in their bands. So incredible talent, that's always the first thing and most important thing.
With booking, there has to be some sort of idea or plan that's exciting and makes the show stand out differently from something you would see anywhere else in L.A.
On Instagram, you said that Mike Garson was the first artist you met with when you started working on The Sun Rose when it was still just a new music venue concept. What were your conversations like?
I was introduced to him through a friend and he was looking for a club to play jazz, but not a jazz club. And I was looking for a revered musician to build a night out with. He wrote a book called Bowie's Piano Man and has all these great stories about being on the road. He has also played with everyone from Nine Inch Nails to Smashing Pumpkins to Lorde and Yungblud, so he's played with everyone. We started working on this concept where we were both just very open-minded and had a lot of ideas, so we built this concept called Bowie’s Piano Man, which is the name of his book, where he invites a special guest, usually a bigger artist if possible, to come play with him.
As the show goes on, Mike is storytelling about what it was like to audition for Bowie, stories from being on the road and it's just a really fascinating piece of history. It was exactly what I was looking to do with The Sun Rose, which was to create a show that can only happen at The Sun Rose and can only happen in L.A. and make it a bucket list thing that people want to go to and it sells out every time.
How would you describe a quintessential Sun Rose experience?
The Sun Rose is right in the middle of things. So it's right in the middle of Sunset Boulevard, it's where the House of Blues was. It's a really intimate, beautiful venue. It's an elevated experience from just going to a regular rock venue in the city. It's good cocktails, there's food from Wolfgang Puck, who's our resident chef here, the full view of the city, a grand piano. The sound is impeccable. We really put an emphasis on making it one of the best-sounding rooms on the West Coast. It's really like walking into a different world. It just has a really good, intimate vibe. And since it's really small, it almost feels like a community too because you meet the people you're sitting next to and everyone is just so warm and the music is so good that everyone leaves really amazed and happy.
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What sort of legacy do you want to build at The Sun Rose?
I hope to bring in iconic artists and have them to residencies in a very intimate setting and have a storytelling aspect or an unexpected combination of artists on stage. Like maybe Lorde does a set and it's just her and Mike Garson, Bowie's piano player, playing piano. Those sort of unique ideas really bring back the super underplay that we're right in the middle of Los Angeles and it's a really beautiful venue. I think it's a really special experience for the artists and for the fans.
Why do you think storytelling elevates the live music experience?
I think it connects the audience and the musician and the music. It's really interesting to hear how a song came about or a special performance of it or something that Bowie said during rehearsal. I think it's really important to create that stronger connection. I prefer when there's banter between songs or when I see a show or when I get to hear the background of how it was written or how it was written or who was written about or the story behind it. I just think that that's really fascinating and we don't get a lot of that.
This interview has been edited and condensed. Tickets are now available.
Photography by: Courtesy The Sun Rose