Back in July, I had the honor of Bernie Pearl Sitting On The Couch to discuss his career and his latest music.
We had a wonderful time as Bernie told story after story of the musicians he was able to meet, learn from and perform with during his late teens and early twenties.
A few weeks later, Bernie reached out to let me know he was going to be opening the main stage at The Biscuit on Friday and then he would be doing “Bridging The Blues” over the next two weeks, culminating in his appearance at the Bukka White Blues Festival and he had a few days open…would I be interested in his doing a live show in Memphis?
After checking a few things, I decided to promote this special event myself. I partnered with Carson Lamm of Rum Boogie Cafe and we settled on Mr. Handy’s Blues Hall as the location for the event.
I arrived at Blues Hall at five to find Carson setting up the lights and making sure he had the cables needed.
Tim Thompson of Blackfoot Custom Amps arrived a short while later with a bass amp for Mike and two amps for Bernie to choose from. After some testing he selected the amp and began doing some warm-ups and sound check.
At 8pm, the show began and for the next four hours, Bernie and Mike transported us to the delta and shared their musical talents.
Mance Lipscomb, Lightnin Sam Hopkins, Muddy Waters and so many other great artists were honored by these two gentlemen with their musical selections. Bernie learned from and played with many of these great musicians, who he met at the Ash Grove Club in LA, which was owned by his brother.
Bernie moved between his old Mahogany acoustic (that he has played since he was 16), a National Resonator and an electric guitar that Bernie modified to a cross between a resonator and an electric.
Bernie interspersed the songs with bits of information on the artists he was playing, which added so much to the evening.
Throughout the evening, the patrons of Beale Street came in and listened and then a new group would come in and it happened throughout the evening.
Bernie and Mike have played together for some 20 years and it shows in their unspoken communications while on stage and through their constant banter and smiles throughout the evening.
Was the evening a success. Well, Carson (who has seen as many shows on Beale as anyone) stated: “It was hands down one of the best shows I have seen on Beale.” Many others who were there during the evening expressed their appreciation for the music and in the end, we raised some $300.00 which is being donated to the Blues Foundation to assist in the building of The Blues Hall Of Fame.
Was it as big as I dreamed…no…but I dream very BIG!
Never seen Bernie Pearl and Mike Barry play? Check the calendar on Bernie’s page and make sure you get to the next show close to you (hell, drive 2-3 hours, it is worth it!)
Note: Thank you Vinny Marini for sharing this report of a great event with us. I believe this could inspire others to do similar events. Terry VunCannon did a similar one in North Carolina earlier in the year, and I hope that I have missed some and they are a regular thing.
Until next time,
Love, Peace & Chicken Grease
Where Blues Thrives
Photos provided by Vinny Marini.