Final night of blues in LA
Our US Spring road trip ends today when we fly back to London. I will start putting photos up soon.
The trip ended on a fantastic note when we visited three blues clubs in south LA and heard some great blues and soul, not least by Eli Paperboy Reed, who was with Allan Charmin' Larman and who sang at all three. But first a quick update on the last few days.
We spent two nights in San Diego, a pleasant city with loads of eating places in the Gaslamp District and Little Italy, although we didn't find any decent music. We spent our one full day there crossing the border into Mexico and visiting Tijuana. It's a bustling town, dusty and noisy, but nowhere near as desperate as we were led to believe. The people there were friendly, especially when we bumped into a ceremony where a new star was being laid on the local walk of fame and were treated to free beers. The only downside was a two and a half hour queue to get back into the States.
A pleasant drive up the coast to LA took us to our hotel in Culver City. We mooched around a bit, taking in Venice Beach, Santa Monica, Amoeba and a couple of other record shops and the site of the motel where Sam Cooke was shot.
Last night's music was a fitting ending to a great trip. We started at Bell's Blues Workshop, which we visited last year, and were pleasantly surprised when Eli walked on. Leading the band was Southside Slim and the first singer, a lady called Sherry I think, was good. Eli was invited to the stage and was given a great reception as he belted through Let's Straighten It Out and Don't Talk To Your Daughter. I'm not sure they knew who he was, but he made a big impression. Other singers, including Mississippi Bo, were good too. Next up was La Louisianne, an upmarket black club where we had some food and listened to Sonny Green, a blues singer with a fantastic soul voice, who was excellent on That's The Way Love Is, a couple of James Brown numbers, Dogging Me Around and Love and Happiness. Eli again went down well on If Loving You Is Wrong and Steal Away and a couple of duets with Sonny in which he played guitar. Finally it was a return to the Pure Pleasure Club, a popular blues place where the band invited several people up to do one or two numbers each. As well as Eli (who did If Loving You Is Wrong), there was Lady G G and Madame Dee, both of them excellent. plus a couple more. The place was jumping and it was a brilliant end to the evening. Afterwards they insisted on a security guard coming with us to the car, as the place is clearly in an unsafe area. During the evening we heard several tributes to Prince and to Billy Paul. What a dreadful year for music deaths. Lonnie Mack gone too.
So it's back home today from the warm sunshine of California to chilly England.