Bernie Pearl

Bernie Pearl
Sittin’ on the Right Side of the Blues

Boulevard Music

By Lady K
March 2012

Before Lady K even popped Bernie Pearl’s new CD into a player, she read the liner-notes and liked what she read. The CD was recorded in concert, at Boulevard Music in Culver City, California, with Bernie Pearl on guitar and vocals, and his pal Michael Barry on upright bass; that’s it. The recording was pressed - no overdubs, no fancy post-recording tinkering, just as the audience heard it (except for the song order). Bernie wrote little notes next to each song title, and his style of writing/speaking is warm, friendly and humble; he “made” Lady K like him and to look forward to listening to his music.

Bernie Pearl honed his craft while playing with some of the bigger names in the blues, and this CD contains many nods to his mentors: Lightnin’ Hopkins’ “Jailhouse Blues” and the slow-blues tune “Shinin’ Moon” (thanks, Lightnin’); Mississippi Fred MacDowell’s “New Hollow Log Blues” (with a few original verses from Pearl), “I Believe I’ll Carry My Hook”, and a stomping “Shake ‘em Down”; and Son House’ “Shetland Pony Blues” is a more than suitable ode to Son. Pearl tossed in a few other “oldies but goodies:” Herman Johnson’s “I Just Keeps on Wanting You”; “Can’t be Satisfied” from Muddy Waters; and Mance Lipscomb’s “Night Time is the Right Time”. All these bare-bones, acoustic tunes just make you wish you were sitting on a back-porch somewhere down in the Delta, listening to Bernie and his heroes and getting lost in the blues with them.

Bernie Pearl doesn’t “just” cover other people’s blues; he included six of his own tunes at the concert, and on this CD. You’ll probably find yourself applauding and shouting right along with the audience on the recording; you’ll be having almost as much fun. “Outside Boogie” is an acoustic instrumental that’ll have you tapping toes and bopping your head, and smiling!!

The very impressive title tune “Sittin’ on the Right Side of the Blues” is a litany of lessons passed down from Pearl’s heroes, while he sat at their sides, soaking up the blues. “Mance Lipscomb come to town; he said “c’mon sit down, watch my fingers while I play’ . . . ‘I learned his style, but it took a while “Sittin’ on the Right Side of the Blues”. Those heroes told Bernie “It comes from true life, into your heart; we’re gonna help you make a start . . . just carry on when we are gone “Sittin’ on the Right Side of the Blues” . . . ‘I don’t know about heaven or down below, or if we come back once we go; but if I had my druthers, I’d choose to keep on “Sittin’ on the Right Side of the Blues.” (This is one of Lady K’s favorite tracks, and it appears that Bernie Pearl learned his lessons well.)

In “I’m Up a Tree”, he’s trying to make amends for straying: “We were happy as could be, but I slipped out one evening – don’t know what got into me . . . now I’m up a tree . . . I pleaded ‘won’t you forgive me?; but you looked right through me . . . I miss your love, I need that love . . . don’t you know “I’m Up a Tree?”

“I Ain’t Hurt” – a nice play on words for the title of this original instrumental, because it’s not about being harmed or in pain. Bernie Pearl introduced it to his audience with a little guitar-player wisdom: “if you do 3-finger picking, you’re gonna sound like Mississippi John Hurt;” hence the title – Bernie’s 3-finger picking, but he “Ain’t Hurt”.

“You Can Break My Heart” offers lessons for the heart, and how to nurture it. “You can break my heart . . . freeze the pieces in your soul . . . we can stick ‘em back together, when you’re not so cold. ‘Love is something so very hard to understand; you think you are winning, but hold a losing hand. Love is something that can grow or fade away; don’t take it for granted, keep lovin’ every day.” Words and music to the wise, from Bernie Pearl!!

<- back to Features