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Subject: CHITLIN CIRCUIT
(The Chitlin' Circuit is a string of small, Black nightclubs and "honky tonks" that are spread throughout the U.S., with the majority of them being in the South...for the most part, a lot of them have long since closed their doors)
Your reply to the question was excellent & I think that this is a topic that we could discuss much more here. There is a legacy that these places contained that has become lost over time & that people who don't know about it should learn about. About 6 months ago in the Funk topic......we had a subject called "Hole In The Wall", which was about clubs that are decsended from the "Chitlin Circuit" tradition.
Also don't forget that places like the Apollo Theater were considered to be a part of the "Chitlin Circuit".
Any other thoughts, memories or information on this ??
Subject: CHITLIN CIRCUIT
Pittsburgh was one of those towns on the Chitlin' Circut. There were places like Westray Plaza, the Hurricane, Crawford Grill and others. And believe it or not...I was too young to go to these places. How about where some of you folks grew up? Do you remember any of the artists who played in these establishments?
"I found my Thrill on Blueberry Hill?
S/// Fat Dommino. Where is he these days?
Fats is still around.......I saw him on a TV special on PBS a few years ago.
I know that his son Antoine owns a club down in the French Quarter as well........
I grew up in Detroit, but my roots are in NC...spent a large part of my adult life in the south where these clubs were in abundance...I wouldn't say that places like the Apollo were part of the "Chitlin' Circuit" because when an artist got the chance to perform at places like The Apollo, The Fox, or The Regal, just to name a few, that was considered the "big time" and you were on your way...clubs on the "chitlin' circuit", for the most part, were obscure little places in the back woods of southern towns and cities. Because of "Jim Crow" they were in great abundance in the 50's and 60's. Many a well known performer played the circuit. There are a few still going strong today.
What ever happened to the Rooster Tail, Mr. Kellys and some ballroom, that I just can't think of the name right now? A friend of mine use to sing in a group called "The El Toros" and The New Editon Reveiw and the Coruptors. And as a matter of fact the group recorded with Nolan Strong and the Diablos.....The record was "I'm laughing at You"and Houdini. The even did a gig with the Temptaions,at the Upper Deck.
S/// Still can't think of that ballroom
The Rooster Tail changed management and names many times...Asked about it once when I was at home...don't think it is still in existence as it once was...the ballroom that comes to mind was The Greystone Ballroom...used to jam there every weekend...remember going with three different girls
from three different parts of town...all showed up at The Greystone on the same Saturday night...I had to leave...what a place!...clubs like Mr. Kelly's, The Flame Showbar, and The 20 Grand...have long ago become victims of progress...But they were fun!
"Wind" by The Diablos...One of my all-time favorites
Hey...I believe Fats is in Lousianna. Perhaps some of our BB folks down that way can give us some details.
Can you tell us the names of some of these places in Detroit and in NC. It was my impression from talking to many musicians is that even the Apollo was considered on that circuit also. It was just that the Apollo was considered the number one place, for those who had made it.
If you remember, many of those folks would have in their bios or on their posters how many times they appeared there for prestiege.
THE TWENTY GRAND IS THE PLACE I WAS TRYING TO REMEMBER.
I also remeber the "Wind" by Nolan Strong & the Diablos, my parents used to play the song around the house when I was a little boy......:)
I have the Laura Nyro version on the CD "It's Gonna Take A Miracle"....(the original is better !!)
There was this place in Roosevelt NY called "The High Way Inn" that was on the "chitlin circuit". This place used to feature acts like "Wildman Steve", Blowfly, "James Brown Jr", Albert King, Sam & Dave and others during the late 60's & early 70's.
I was too young to go in but I used to sometimes ride my bike there on a Saturday night & peek inside the door from the parking lot. It was a pretty big nightclub with a bandstand and you could hear the music out in the parking lot.
Peeking inside the door I saw people inside DECKED out, drinking, dancing and talking junk. The place closed down in the mid 70's and today is a church.
I wish I could find the owner, I'd love to interview him !!
(FM Fats & John Gilbert would remember this place as well)
Bob, Bill, and you other folks...this is great...keep it up!! Anybody else got some places for us?? Maybe your folks remember the Chitlin circuit.
ROFL BOB that place was something else. i even remember hearing commercials for it on WWRL. every fri and sat night you could go up there and hear the music playing. never know who was up there but used to love to look at all the caddys and lincolns ion the lot. people be dressed to impress. couldn't wait til i was old enough to go in but it closed before then. what did it become before it was the
Yeah man.....I always wanted to go in to that joint but I never did either. I also remember the ad's they used to have on 'RL' for the place. It always looked to me like the place was jumpin all the time. I supose that places like that were simply victums of disco/integration ???
Fats Domino did a "comeback" set at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival this year that was so magnificent I wept.
No stage patter at all; just hit after hit for 90 minutes, and the piano walked at the end of the show. It will
probably be among my greatest Jazzfest memories for the rest of my life.
The many big name clubs in Detroit, Chicago, New York, etc. were, I am sure, part of this trek...some of the names that come to mind are Mr. Kelly's, The Flame, Latin Quarter, The Cotillion, etc. etc...Whereas, places such as The Apollo, The Fox, and The Regent would be natural stops on the way up that ladder, they were not clubs but theaters...a far cry from The El Rocco, The Cosmopolite, The Country Club,
Mr. D's, The Ghana, and The Paradise, just to name a few...hence the name "chitlin' circuit"...these were small clubs that actually served chitlins, fried chicken, fish, hamhocks, etc...so the name became synonymous with one night or short engagements at these places
The old 20 Grand... burned down when I was a kid...some say it was set...rebuilt when I was a kid in time for my teenage and young adult life...don't remember, but either burned or torn down again...I think it burned never to arise again
My folks go back to the days of the real "chitlin' circuit" when these were THE ONLY places to see black acts in the south...
Wow....James Brown Jr.??
Ok, ok...thanks for clarifying that for me and others. I remember that I very intrigued by the posters I used to see for the places here in Pittsburgh. The place called Westray Plaza was right up the street from where I grew up, and sometimes in the summer you could hear the music which was about three blocks away!! Thanks for that info...come ya'll
I know some more of you know these places. Come on FM!!
Come get these memories!!
What can I tell ya.......someone named "James Brown Jr" would always be advertised as playing at the "Hi Way Inn".
Like I said....I was too young to go in to the club so I never got to see "James Brown Jr" to see if he was in fact "the real deal"
I REMEMBER SEEING A GUY IN A SMALL CLUB IN WINSTON-SALEM BACK IN THE 60'S WHO CALLED HIMSELF JAMES BROWN, JR...DON'T THINK THERE WAS ANY RELATION
OTHER THAN HIS ACT WAS A SPIN-OFF OF THE ORIGINAL.
WONDER WHATEVER HAPPENED TO HIM...
In Philadelphia, the Uptown on North Broad street was a part of the Chitlin Circuit. It was extensively renovated in the late 1980's I believe and did not do well as a showplace.
The circuit was no longer needed. It has been sold to a church and now stands in near dilapidation. I pass it each morning as I go to work.
I REMEMBER THE UPTOWN...ANOTHER PART OF THE BIG CITY CIRCUIT LIKE THE FOX IN DETROIT, THE APOLLO IN NEW YORK, AND THE REGENT IN DC...SUCH ACTS AS DEE DEE SHARP, PATTI LABELLE & THE BLUE BELLS, THE PHILADELPHIANS, ETC...MUST BE
HEARTBREAKING TO SEE IT IN RUINS...ALTHOUGH THE CIRCUIT IS NO LONGER WHAT IT WAS, IT IS ALIVE AND WELL...MANY NEW YOUNG ACTS TRYING TO MAKE IT AND OLD ONES ON THE WAY OUT ARE APPEARING IN THESE SMALL SOUTHERN CLUBS, WHICH WERE THE BEGINNING OF THE ORIGINAL "CHITLIN' CIRCUIT"
What type of material did the "James Brown Jr" that you saw do ???
Iím----- curious as hell....:)
"It had to be the same guy..."
JAMES BROWN MATERIAL...PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE...TRY ME...LOST SOMEONE...ETC.,ETC...
Of course I should have guessed that........lol
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