L.A.'s music scene has become formulaic with the usual suspects. Visit Echopark and Silver Lake for Indie music, Hollywood for high school rock bands, and the older theaters including the Wiltern and Hollywood Bowl for national acts. They all exist in the well-trodden areas sandwiched between the foot of the Hollywood Hills and north of the 10 freeway. But plenty of interesting venues that showcase great music outside the realms of rock thrive in a sprawling, largely underexplored area Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa once over-archingly designated as “South of the 10.”
This week West Coast Sound presents to you a series called “Authentic Alternatives: Heart and Soul South of the 10.” Each day this week, we'll present to you with an offbeat venue that thrives with underground energy and treads the path not taken. Enjoy.
By day they're probably mechanics, insurance adjusters, or perhaps stay at home moms, but on the small stage at Babe & Ricky's Inn, they're musical shamans channeling the soul stirring energy of the blues. For over 40 years, Babe & Ricky's has been the premiere spot to catch firebrand blues in Los Angeles. Founded in 1964 by working class, single mother Laura Mae Gross, Babe & Ricky's infused South L.A.'s Central Avenue with the blues for over 30 years.
Now located in the recently revived epicenter of African-American culture and art, Leimert Park, Babe & Ricky's presents the best bluesmen and women that Los Angeles has to offer. A steady stream of musicians wield their musical chops as every guitar squeal and saxophone lament is critiqued by the audience of locals, newcomers, and life-long patrons. Mondays offer a particularly savory treat, where $8 gets you a hearty helping of fired chicken, cornbread, and collard greens as a side order to the blues. Laura Mae Gross still sits at the entrance, as she has from the beginning, counting cash and offering a stern warning to “keep those hands out of the cornbread.” Tonight, you're a guest in Laura's house, so enjoy this experience filled with flavors and sounds good for both the stomach and the soul.
Tomorrow we explore Northern English Soul in South L.A.