April 17, 2008
Concerts celebrate Ash Grove’s golden legacy
(Page 2 - Previous Page)"Chief William Parker had it in for us from day one," Pearl said. "There was a law that was quietly passed shortly after we opened -- all nightclubs had to have a police license. I'd never heard of it, and we were closed down for a short time. After the Watts riots, the LAPD had trouble getting new policemen, so it recruited down south. But a lot of those guys liked that we had Doc Watson and the bluegrass players. The nearby precinct house used to send runaway kids to us, because we could help them get a place to stay and a meal."
The police weren't the only source of troubles for Pearl and the Ash Grove: "There were only five fistfights at the Ash Grove. I was in three of them."
The extreme political currents that found a forum at the club drew the open hostility of right-wing groups. No less than three break-ins and arsons -- in '69, '72, and '74 -- forced the Melrose club to close. Two subsequent attempts to relocate the Ash Grove -- to Santa Monica Boulevard in '88, and the Santa Monica Pier in '96 ï¿½"proved short-lived.
The weekend festival at UCLA stirs both pride and pique in Pearl.
"Do you know," he asked, with slightly bitter incredulity, "that I've never once been asked to speak to a class or at a seminar or festival?"
Still, if some sense of neglect still dogs Pearl, he's certain of his legacy.
"I'm very proud of having presented so much great music," he said, without hesitation, "and providing the first exposure to a lot of great artists. I brought real music to the lives of real people."
For more information, visit http://www.uclalive.org/event.asp?Event_ID=490
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