Sons of Rhythm, Billy Foster & More Set for 1st Annual Barbara Morrison Performing Arts Center Blues Festival May 18-20, LA


World-renowned Jazz and Rhythm & Blues Vocalist, Barbara Morrison will present top talent in The 1st Annual Barbara Morrison Performing Arts Center Blues Festival to be performed on two stages at the Barbara Morrison Performing Arts Center (BMPAC), 4305 Degnan Boulevard, #101, Los Angeles, CA 90036 tonight, Saturday and Sunday, May 18, 19 and 20, 2012.

Performers to be featured during the three-day Blues Fest include: Barbara Morrison (Producer of the Festival); the Sons of Rhythm: Johnny “Lucky” Otis (Grandson of Rhythm & Blues Pioneer Johnny Otis), Richard Berry III (Grandson of Composer and Pianist, Richard “Louie, Louie” Berry) and Donato James (Son of the legendary Etta James); Billy Foster & The Original Medallions; the Bernie Pearl Blues Band; Ray Bailey; Big Terry DeRouen; Kirk “Eli” Fletcher; Shelley “King” Fisher; Sonny Green; Sweetie Chicks; Johnny Mastro and Mama’s Boys; Jamie “Blues Boy” Powell; Sista Sherry Pruitt and Brother Yusef.

Morrison said: “It was a great day for the Blues when at The White House President Barack Obama told the nation that the Blues were alright with him. The Chief Executive celebrated the deep connection of U.S. culture with the music that originated in Africa, took root in slavery, and changed music for the entire world. The link between the Blues and President Obama’s home city of Chicago is well-known.”

But, the City of Los Angeles figures mightily in the story of the Blues as well. After WWII musicians like T-Bone Walker, Lowell Fulson and CharLes Brown found Central Avenue pulsating with music. Johnny Otis, the son of Greek immigrants, came from Berkeley to establish a solid platform for African-American artists in the still-segregated city. Little Esther Phillips, Etta James, Willie Mae “Big Mama” Thornton, all fronted his show. Giants like Big Joe Turner, Eddie “Cleanhead” Vinson, Louis Jordan, and Roy Brown, lived here and often played with Johnny Otis.

The Blues has had high and low times, but never has disappeared. Gone underground, flown beneath the radar, but never died. Johnny Otis’ last great discovery was a young lady from Michigan who, like many of the great vocalists before her, was brought up singing in church. Her name was Barbara Morrison.

Aside from her considerable performance abilities, Barbara Morrison is now taking on a leadership role in the fostering of classic forms of African-American music in Los Angeles at her new Arts Center located in the Leimert Park.

Morrison said: “The Blues lie at the heart of Jazz, and were instrumental in the development of American popular music. As such, I am proud to start a new tradition here in Los Angeles by presenting a three-day Blues Festival featuring important artists in the field. One thing is for sure – come mid-May, Leimert Park will be jumpin’ as we raise the roof with our enthusiastic music making.”

Performances will be given at the Barbara Morrison Performing Arts Center on the Theatre Stage and the Festival Garden Stage during the three-day festival from May 18 – 20, 2012. Tickets are $25 per day, with the exception of the “All Star Blues Jam Session Fundraisers” benefiting the Barbara Morrison Performing Arts Center to be held immediately following the concerts on Saturday, May 19th and Sunday, May 20th, at which time tickets will be $30 per person, plus a two-drink minimum. Tickets may be purchased in advance by calling the Barbara Morrison Performing Arts Center at 323-296-BARB (323-296-2272) and online at

Food and Drinks will be available for purchase all three days at the Festival.

Friday, May 18, 2012 from 8:00- 10:00 p.m. – Barbara Morrison Performing Arts Center Theatre (Tickets are $25 each):
8:00 – 10:00 p.m.: Champagne VIP Reception. Entertainment provided by Barbara Morrison, Jamie “Blues Boy” Powell, Big Terry DeRouen and The Bernie Pearl Blues Band. Honoring Sponsors and Musicians who have donated their time to keep the doors open and the music happening at the BMPAC.

Saturday, May 19, 2012 from 12 Noon – 6:00 p.m. – Festival Garden Stage (Tickets are $25 each); Followed by an “All Star Blues Jam Session Fundraiser” (Tickets are $30 each):
12-Noon – 1:00 p.m.: The Bernie Pearl Blues Band – House Band
1:00 – 2:00 p.m.: Jamie “Blues Boy” Powell – Real Deal Blues
2:00 – 3:00 p.m.: Sonny Green – Soul Blues Legend
3;00 – 4:00 p.m.: Johnny Mastro and Mama’s Boys – Rockin’ Blues
4:00 – 5:00 p.m.: Sons of Rhythm (Barbara Morrison joins the children and grandchildren of three of the giants of Los Angeles Rhythm & Blues): A Tribute to Johnny Otis, Etta James and Richard Berry featuring Johnny “Lucky” Otis (Bass, Vibraphone; Son of Guitarist Shuggie Otis and grandson of bandleader and R&B pioneer, Johnny Otis); Danto James (Drummer, Vocalist; son of the legendary Etta James) and Richard Berry III (Pianist; grandson of composer and pianist Richard “Louie, Louie” Berry) with Barbara Morrison
5:00 – 6:00 p.m.: Billy Foster & The Original Medallions – Classic Rhythm & Blues

6:00 p.m. – on: “All Star Blues Jam Session Fundraiser” – Festival Garden Stage (Tickets are $30 each, plus a two drink minimum). Benefiting the Barbara Morrison Performing Arts Center.

Sunday, May 20, 2012 from 12-Noon – 6:00 p.m. – Festival Garden Stage (Tickets are $25 each); Followed by an “All Star Blues Jam Session Fundraiser” (Tickets are $30 each):
12-Noon – 1:00 p.m.: The Bernie Pearl Blues Band – House Band
1:00 – 2:15 p.m.: Brother Yusef – One-Man Down Home Band
2:15 – 3:15 p.m.: Kirk “Eli” Fletcher – Exciting Young Guitar Sensation
3:15 – 4:30 p.m.: Ray Bailey – L.A.’s Master Guitarist and Blues Guru
4:30 -6:00 p.m.: “Mama Blues” – Starring Barbara Morrison, Sista Sherry Pruitt, Shelley “King” Fisher and the Sweetie Chicks

6:00 p.m. – on: “All Star Blues Jam Session Fundraiser” – Festival Garden Stage (Tickets are $30 each, plus a two drink minimum). Benefiting the Barbara Morrison Performing Arts Center.

About the Performing Artists:
Barbara Morrison (Festival Producer; Vocalist) Raised in Romulus, MI, Morrison logged her first performance on radio in Detroit at the age of 10. Since then, she has toured the world, dazzling fans with her two-and-a-half-octave range, in a wide array of genres from traditional Jazz and Blues to Gospel and Pop. Morrison has been featured on over 20 recordings. Over the years she has performed with a virtual “Who’s Who” of the Jazz and Blues worlds: Gerald Wilson, Dizzy Gillespie, Ray Charles, James Moody, Ron Carter, Etta James, Esther Phillips and many others. Morrison has also guest starred with the Count Basie Orchestra, the Clayton-Hamilton Orchestra and Doc Severinsen’s Big Band. She has performed at Blues and Jazz Festivals around the world, including Montreaux, Nice, Pori, Carnegie Hall, North Sea and Monterey. She is the creator and director of the Barbara Morrison Performing Arts Center in the Leimert Park area of Los Angeles. Morrison will sing on Friday night at 8:00 p.m., Saturday afternoon with the Sons of Rhythm at 4:00 p.m and on Sunday afternoon with “Mama Blues” at 4;30 p.m.

The Bernie Pearl Blues Band: (House Band performing at the Festival all three days with a variety of artists.)
Bernie Pearl (Guitarist and Leader of The Bernie Pearl Blues Band) Los Angeles native Bernie Pearl got hooked on the Blues at his brother Ed Pearl’s renowned Ash Grove. His earliest guitar mentors included: Brownie McGhee, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Mance Lipscomb and Mississippi Fred MacDowell. He went on to perform with Blues luminaries such as Will Mae “Big Mama” Thornton, Freddie King, John Lee Hooker, Willie Dixon, Big Joe Turner and B.B. King with Stevie Ray Vaughan, and many others. A long and fruitful partnership with Harmonica Fats led to national recognition and performance in Europe and Canada. His career has included long stints as radio host, educator and festival producer. Currently, Pearl often tours, performing traditional and original acoustic Blues, and he continues to lead his five-piece Bernie Pearl Blues Band at festivals and clubs throughout Southern California. He has just released his fourth CD, “Sittin’ on the Right Side of the Blues” (Major Label Records, 2011).

Terry “Big T” DeRouen (Guitarist, The Bernie Pearl Blues Band) is a guitarist and vocalist with a distinctive sound. He has appeared and recorded and with dozens of artists, including Guitar Shorty, Willa Mae “Big Mama” Thornton, Smokey Wilson and, most recently, Etta James on her final studio release, “The Dreamer.”

Bobby “Hurricane” Spencer (Saxophonist, Vocalist, Songwriter and Educator; Member of The Bernie Pearl Blues Band) has a musical past that has spanned over 40 years. Born in Detroit, MI he checked into Alameda, CA by way of Arkansas at the tender age of 11 months. He was Musical Director for the legendary Jimmy McCracklin band. He also played with Johnny Tolbert and Dee Thangs, Marvin Holmes and the Uptights, and recorded with Oakland Blues icons J.J. Malone and Sonny Rhodes.