*(Los Angeles, CA) – The blues community came out in support of and in celebration of the annual Babe’s and Ricky’s Inn Memorial and Reunion Jam, Saturday, March 18, 2023, at the Barbara Morrison Performing Arts Center in historic Leimert Park Village.
Michael Gliona and Eric Garcia assembled a stellar line-up of local blues musicians uniting to honor the life and legacy of Laura Mae Gross, affectionately known as “Mama Laura.” This annual event showcases the rich and diverse blues community in the Greater Los Angeles area. Blues musicians and blues aficionados arrived from South Los Angeles, East Los Angeles, the Valley and all points in between.
If you are a long-time resident of Los Angeles, or perhaps you heard your parents speak fondly about the glory days of Babe’s and Ricky’s Inn Blues Club from back in the day on Central Avenue. Babe’s and Ricky’s Inn were founded in 1964 by Laura Mae Gross. Babe’s and Ricky’s Inn were in business on Central Avenue for 37 years. This was a jumping blues joint to see up and coming blues stars and established stars. In 1997, Babe’s and Ricky’s Inn relocated to 4339 Leimert Park Blvd., in historic and culturally vibrant Leimert Park Village. Sadly, Laura Mae Gross passed away in 2006. She left a lasting legacy in the local and national blues community and beyond.
It is fitting that this event was held during the month of March, Women’s History Month. March is set aside to honor women’s contribution in American history. This year’s National Women’s History Month theme is “Celebrating Women Who Tell Our Stories.” The theme celebrates women past and present, who have been active in all forms of media and storytelling including print, radio, TV, stage, screen, blogs, podcasts, news and social media.
Barbara Morrison and Laura Mae Gross fit into this timely theme which honors women in the community who have devoted their lives and talents to producing arts and pursuing truth and reflecting society decade after decade.
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Babe’s and Ricky’s Inn Memorial and Reunion Jam got underway as people arrived to the sound of “Down Home Blues” coming from the sound system, featuring a recording by the late great Barbara Morrison.
Down Home Blues were served up generously in various hues and in different keys. Everyone gathered was in agreement that the “Blues is Alright,” and most important “The Blues is a Fact of Life.”
Mighty Balls of Fire were lit! They opened their set with “Every Day I Have the Blues” enhanced with the vocal styling of Tony Ibarra. The confirmed my opinion performing the song “The Blues is Alright” and continued with “Darling, Don’t You Know I Love You” and closed with “Blues for Boo Boo” by acclaimed guitarist, singer and songwriter Kirk Fletcher. Mighty Balls of Fire consist of Tony Ibarra-guitar, Eric Garcia-guitar, Carlos Reveles-bass, Harrison Mannell, aka, Hatch on keyboards and Michael Gliona- drums.
The Other Mules performed next. They were awesome during their brief moment in the spotlight on the songs “Can’t Be Satisfied,” and “Ain’t Going Down.”
3rd Degree Blues Band led by guitarist/vocalist Aaron Chapman opened their tight set with “I’m a Blues Man” by Z.Z. Hill, “She’s Nineteen Years Old” by Muddy Waters, and concluded their set with “Boom, Boom, Boom” by John Lee Hooker.
Eric Garcia Blues Band wrote and performed a nice tune with funky grooves entitled “Blues for Mama” for Laura Mae Gross. They continued with “Alley Cat Shuffle” by harp player/vocalist Glen Doll and finished with “Baby What You Want Me to Do.”
Babe’s and Ricky’s Inn Memorial and Reunion Jam attracted a lot of talented blues musicians that don’t get a lot of attention and exposure around town. Various impromptu bands were assembled by Michael Gliona. They all cranked up the throttle of the blues to the delight of the audience.
Ladies of the blues featured electrifying sets with Carol Shiada followed by Ms. Mellow and Barbara Hubbard. The show paused for several minutes so that a group photo could be taken of all of the assembled blues musicians, outside of The Barbara Morrison Performing Arts Center.
The second half of the show moved on full steamed ahead. On deck were sensational saxophonist Bobby “Hurricane” Spencer followed by Oklahoma Ollie who thrilled the crowd playing an extensive guitar solo behind his back.
“The Nitty Gritty’s in Town” the man himself, Sir Stan was also present to entertain a captivated crowd with a couple of songs.
The remainder of the show, as they say, “let the good times roll to the delight of the audience. On a related note, there is a great documentary streaming online entitled Babe’s and Ricky’s Inn.
You owe it to yourself and your family and friends who love the blues to view this documentary at your leisure. To view which platform is streaming the movie visit, https://m.imdb.com/title/tt1531628.
Check out and bookmark https://tbmpac.com to sign up for the newsletter. You can also see upcoming shows at the Barbara Morrison Performing Arts Center and the special event, 2nd Annual Barbara Morrison Jazz and Blues Music Festival, on September 9, 2023.
You will be the first on your block to find out about the incredible lineup!!!
Ricky Richardson is a Southern California-based writer, music reviewer, and photographer. contact him via: firstname.lastname@example.org
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