FREE Subscription - For more information  CLICK HERE



Back To Reviews page

Bernie Pearl - Sittin’ On The Right Side Of The Blues

Major Label Recordings

15 Tracks; 65:29

Bernie Pearl is a life-long student of the blues. Introduced to the music by Sonny Terry and Brownie McGee, Pearl began playing in the 1950’s. He learned from some legendary bluesmen like Lightnin' Hopkins and Mance Lipscomb. Pearl’s brother Ed had the legendary Ash Grove club in Los Angeles, CA where Bernie learned about music and life from the musicians who graced the stage like Big Mama Thornton and Freddie King. Pearl has shared the stage and sat in with a mind-boggling array of blues musicians like John Lee Hooker, Albert Collins, Koko Taylor, Big Walter Horton, Willie Dixon, Big Joe Turner, Lowell Fulson, Papa John Creach, B.B. King and Stevie Ray Vaughan. It seems Bernie’s whole life has been dedicated to the blues. In 1968 he became Los Angeles’ first all-blues FM disc jockey, hosting a show on KPPC FM. He later hosted blues shows on KLON and KCRW between 1980 and 1992. He is one of the founders of the Long Beach Blues Festival, and has taught blues history and guitar courses at some colleges in his area. Bernie was even named "Blues Promoter of the Year" by the Blues Foundation in 1987 when he was president of Big Time Blues Productions.

With the blues and its history firmly entwined with his own, it is no surprise that Bernie Pearl plays and sings like the masters of old. His new disc, …Sittin’ On The Right Side Of The Blues, captures a live performance from February 5, 2011 at Boulevard Music in Culver City, CA. By all accounts, Boulevard Music is an intimate room and perfect for Bernie Pearl, accompanied by Mike Barry on upright bass, to display his considerable mastery of acoustic blues. The upright bass gives the performance a bottom end that is often sorely missing from solo acoustic blues and makes the recording and songs aurally appealing. It also gives the impression of a back porch jam which perfectly suits the material.

Pearl covers Fred MacDowell, Son House, Muddy Waters, Bessie Smith and others, but the revelation here is Bernie Pearl’s original compositions. His originals capture the spirit of early 20th century blues, telling stories of hard ship and commenting on social issues through colorful metaphors and twists of fate as he does on “I’m Up A Tree” and “Flat-Footed.” His tunes seamlessly blend with the old material, sending the listener back to the liner notes to see who wrote what. Pearl does not engage in imitation or plagiarism any more or less than Robert Johnson, Skip James, or Muddy Waters. He carries on the blues tradition of taking favorite bits and melding them into something new. Acknowledging this openly, Pearl mentions to the audience that you can’t finger pick in the key of G without sounding like Mississippi John Hurt which is why the song “I Ain’t Hurt” is titled this way.

There is nothing wrong with liking a style and putting your own spin on it. It’s been done for ages in all styles of music. That’s how the music stays fresh, but establishes continuity with the past. Bernie Pearl the historian knows this better than most and Bernie, the guitar player and singer, has the ability to pull it off. His guitar playing flows like the muddy Mississippi and his voice and vocal style evoke the emotions to match the music. He gives Muddy Waters’ classic “I Can’t Be Satisfied” a visceral urgency and “Jailhouse Blues,” which Pearl says is based on Lightnin’ Hopkins version of Bessie Smith’s original, has a lowdown, lonesome jail cell melancholy that would make even the most hot-blooded sinners sigh.

At every turn, Bernie Pearl displays passion for the music’s past, present and future, honoring those who came before and presenting fresh music that will continue to pull in new listeners and fans. …Sittin’ On The Right Side Of The Blues, is a perfect primer for someone who wants to experience the music of the past without the lo-fi hotel room recordings and noisy crackling of tin 78 rpm records from the first blues era.

Reviewer Jim Kanavy is the greatest guitar player in his house. He has been reviewing albums in his head for 30 years and in print since 2008, and is deeply committed to keeping the blues alive and thriving. For more information visit

To submit a review or interview please contact:

For more information please contact:


Home  |  Contact  |  Submit Your Blues News - Advertise with Blues Blast Magazine
 Copyright - Blues Blast Magazine
2010    Design by: Moxi Dawg Design