My favorite blues club has always been "Babe's and Ricky's Inn". It is a venue near and dear to my heart. Since the death of Laura Mae Gross, the woman that most of us refer to as Mama, this much loved establishment has closed its doors. I stated "There will never, ever be another Mama or another Babe's and Ricky's." It had an exciting, warm atmosphere and featured the best roots and blues music in Los Angeles. It was a fabulous contribution to the local community and the blues scene in general.
My friend Glen Doll is a harmonica player. He said to me several times, "If you liked Babe's and Ricky's, you should come on down to 'The Living Room' on a Sunday night for jam night. You really should! I'm just sayin'."
This intrigued me enough to be distracted by the thought of it on Sunday evening. For months I was held hostage by my 'Dark O'clock' regime on Monday mornings, when I would greet the sun as it rises. Then, out of the beautiful nowhere, I got a Monday off. I got all dolled up, called up my sister and said "Get ready, we're going to check out a really great blues club on Crenshaw."
Looking at 'The Living Room' from the side walk, it doesn't look like much. 2636 Crenshaw is not a prestigious address. Once inside, a lovely metamorphosis takes place.
To begin with, when you walk into The Living Room, you are greeted and welcomed by everyone. People actually turn, say hello and introduce themselves. Once that's done, you're family. It really is like walking into someone’s living room. It's fetching and funky. Everyone is delighted to be there. They planned it all week, talked about it, I'm sure. The women discussed who would wear what next Sunday and who wore what last Sunday. They dress to the nines. The men wear suits and fedoras. No one, however is going to throw you out if ya ain't fancy. It is evident that the people there are coming to an event. They are proud to be there. It is an occasion and a party!
It's dark, and the small tables and chairs that are lined up along the north side of the wall are all taken if you don't get there early. But, it doesn't really matter, because, no matter where you sit, the musicians will walk up and play a harmonica or sax solo right next to you. The singer walks the span of the building belting it out. I know where to go to get a solo played just to me. It happens every night.
The stage is reeeeeaally small. Harps and horns stand in front the stage and on the floor because the bandstand can hold only four musicians or so. It's beautifully intimate. Above the drummer’s head is a large school clock. The quirkiness of it all just captivated me.
The house band is killer! They are known as the "The Lovely Band", formerly "Chu Chu and The Lovely Band." It consists of Glen Doll on harmonica, Lonnie Mitchell on bass, Neil Robinson on drums and Buddy "Madhouse" Pierson on keyboards. Sunday night is jam night and people from all over the country show up. I have seen several of my favorite horn and guitar players there. But, I ain't namin' names. You know who you are.
The Living Room which has been in operation for about thirty years has a full bar and is nestled conveniently next to a soul food restaurant. So coming early for mac and cheese is NEVER out of the question. You're going to work it off once you get in the door, because, really, who can sit still? The Living Room is where you want to be if you like great blues and you want to experience something you aren't going to find anywhere else. I guarantee it! Everyone is up dancing, laughing, talking and happy to be at home in The Living Room. I'm just sayin'…
- Julie Jenkins