Bernie Pearl

Bernie Pearl
Take Your Time

Bee Bump Music

By Lady K.
August 2014

Evidently Lady K has been on this gig with the Boston Blues Society for longer than she realized – she’s seeing new CDs from many of the wonderful blues people that she’s already written about. Bernie Pearl’s Take Your Time follows his Sittin’ on the Right Side of the Blues (which I wrote about in early 2012). On Take Your Time there are several tunes written by Bernie Pearl, and the rest are ‘covers’, but not really; they are Bernie Pearl’s adaptations of already cool blues tunes.

The players include Bernie Pearl (guitars and vocals); Mike Barry (bass); Albert Trepagnier, Jr., (percussion); and Bobby “Hurricane” Spencer (tenor sax). “Take Your Time” includes a very special guest, vocalist Barbara Morrison, singing with with Bernie on multiple tracks, including: “Worried Life Blues” (based on “Done Tol’ Everybody” by Fred MacDowell; derived from Big Maceo) is mid-tempo rocking guitar blues. ‘I had money, I had plenty of bread, now I ain’t got nothing / it hurts me so bad for us to part, but some day baby, you ain’t gonna worry my life anymore.’ Barbara’s sexy crooning background vocals and Bernie’s slow guitar, result in the slow, bluesy love song “Katie Mae” (Lightnin’ Hopkins). He ‘bought her a radio, even bought her an electric fan / Katie Mae is a good girl – you can bet your last dollar, Katie Mae will treat you right.’ Fred and Annie MacDowell taught Bernie the well-known, rocking/rolling gospel tune “Jesus Is On the Main Line”. John Brim’s “Tough Times” includes insane guitar blues and is all about bad times: ‘had a real good job, working many long hours a week / they had a big layoff / Tough times is here once more / you don’t have no money / you can’t live happy no more’. And then Hurricane played his sax, along with Bernie’s guitar, and it was good . . .

“Kickstart” is a Bernie Pearl original tune - a mid-tempo instrumental, and according to his liner notes, Bernie says we wanted the tune to provoke happy feet. Mission accomplished! “Rock Me Mama” (Big Boy Crudup, 1944) is a slowish rocker: ‘Rock me mama, rock me slow, rock me just one time before you go. Trepagnier’s drum catches one’s attention here. Lady K found herself picturing a drummer, wearing a fedora, and shades, with a cigarette dangling from his mouth . . . it’s that kinda hip-swingin’ blues number.

Mance Liscomb’s up-tempo “Mama Don’t You Dog Me” is Bernie and his guitar saying goodbye to his lady: ‘Mama don’t you dog me, I’m goin’ away, sorry I can’t take you / ain’t nothing’ where I’m goin’ a girl like you could do.’

One of Lady K’s favorite tracks is “Mississippi Raga”, which Pearl’s improv of MacDowell’s “Como”. It’s an instrumental - well, one instrument; this tune needs no lyrics because Bernie’s guitar just rivets the listener. Another favorite is Bernie (on lap steel) accompanied by Hurricane’s kick-ass sax on Eddie Boyd’s “Third Degree”.

Recorded by Mercy Dee Walton in the early 1950s, “One Room Country Shack” isn’t especially ‘PC’, but we’ll assume the lyrics were written tongue-in-cheek. It’s slow blues about loneliness. ‘1000 miles from nowhere in this one room country shack, I wake up every night ‘round midnight and I just can’t sleep no more / I’m gonna find me some kind of companion, even if she’s dumb, deaf, cripple and blind.’

There’s more of Bernie’s insane guitar in Pearl’s version of Big Joe Williams’ version of Sonny Boy Williamson I’s “Sloppy Drunk”, and lyrics to explain why he’s “Sloppy Drunk”. ‘Love my moonshine whiskey / gonna tell the world that I do / reason I drink baby is to try and get along with you.’ “10:00am Blues” is an instrumental ‘off the top of their heads’ by Bernie and his guitar and Mike Barry and his bass warming up before recording.

There’s nothing that needs to be said about Pearl’s cover of Robert Johnson’s “Traveling Riverside Blues”, except that it’s terrific. And Bernie pokes fun at himself and others of a certain generation on the blues rocker “This Old Fool”. It’s memorable for the music and the lyrics ‘this old fool, oh Lord what a fool / thinks he’s still attractive / thinks his libido is still active.’

Lady K thoroughly enjoys Bernie Pearl’s blues!!!

<- back to Features