Laura Mae Gross
, founder and owner of Babe's and Ricky's Inn
in Leimert Park
(a gem of an artistic community in Los Angeles), died this past Saturday
Some consider Babe's and Ricky's Inn to be a well-kept Los Angeles secret, but their Monday Night Jam (and $10 soul food buffet) is famous and beloved by many. The songs on Babe's & Ricky's myspace page
are presumably performed by the house bands, The Mighty Balls of Fire (Friday/Saturday nights) and Johnny Mastro & The Mama's Boys (Thursday nights).
Whatever night you show up there, however, you're perfectly within your rights to expect to be blown away by a revolving cast of incredible blues musicians from all over Los Angeles doing their thang. Some come from nearby Watts and South Central, others from East LA, others from the valley, the westside, some from MUCH farther away
. Their official website boasts having played host to music legends, the likes of B.B. King and Eric Clapton, but it's the local blues players (mavens and naifs alike) that make it the treasure that it is.
Up until now, you could have also expected to see Laura Mae Gross, known to many as mama
, at the door. I have a personal favorite memory of her: I went to Babe's and Ricky's one night on a date, at my suggestion. As a modern lady, I always rush to pay for myself (this has caused me some dating confusion, but I digress). I walked right up to mama and pulled out my wallet to pay the $10 cover, but she vehemently refused -- and insisted my date pay. Somehow this delighted the both of us and set the stage for a really lovely evening.
Sometimes it's crowded, and sometimes it's nearly empty
(you can see mama in the background at her regular spot by the door, eclipsed by the dancing couple, in that video), but the bands never disappoint. Mama will be missed terribly, I can only imagine how much by those that knew her, but even to nearly complete strangers like me.