Category: Entertainment Written by Timothy Cox
(Pittsburgh’s funky R & B legacy Part 2 )
Regional private social clubs vital to live
The Beaver Falls Elks, like other regional private social clubs, were hotspots for Black party life in the late sixties and early 1970s—a trend that would continue well into the mid-1980s.
Long before the advent and rise of Disco music and its pulsating, high-tech Disco Clubs, small private clubs provided the dance track for Black Pittsburgh—way before Disco havens like Monroeville’s Backstage Lounge, Holiday House, East Liberty’s Fantastic Plastic and Yellow Banana set the standard with elaborate lighting systems and booming sound systems that eclipsed any live band’s self-contained sound system.
Other hotspot Disco clubs of that period were the VIP 2001 on the North Side and in Baden, and the renovated movie theater known as Infinity Disco in Rochester. The positive aspects of these new Disco clubs were that they were the first party spots to become fully racially-integrated—as opposed to the previous defacto segregated nightclubs and bars that were typically located in individual neighborhoods that were “expectedly” racially segregated, generally with more Whites versus Black patrons.
Joining the Beaver Falls Elks as venues where Black folks “did their own thing,” were soulful party spots like Clairton’s Hollywood Club, the Rankin Elks and Homestead’s Workingmen’s Club, The MPI and Quippian Clubs in Aliquippa, the Sewickley Legion and the Paramount Club in Coraopolis.
The ambiance at those clubs during the early ‘70s were the same—kind of like watching the party scene in the classic 1972 motion picture “Superfly,” when Ron O’Neil’s character, Preach, stopped to have a few drinks at a bar while Curtis Mayfield’s hot and funky live band played groovy sounds.
Cool cats wearing colorful satin suits, Stetson shoes and Apple caps to match, found themselves in a room full of fine sisters wearing Afro hair-doos, tight mini skirts, hot pants and platform shoes.
“Ah yea, those were the days,” reflects Phillip Billingslea, a former Pittsburgh regional radio industry executive at Sheridan Broadcasting.
Back in the day, Billingslea, an Aliquippa native, spent lots of time surveying the city’s social scene and was one to travel throughout the Tri-State area during his younger years.
When it comes to the importance of the band era of the ‘70s, Billingslea puts it all in perspective.
“Really, it was a great time. A great era. It was hot while it lasted, but then it was gone in a flash,” he said.
“The bands were strong then, we had El Pooks and they had a record called “Psychadelic Soul.”
El Pooks were a family unit later renamed The Stringfield Family Band.
Billingslea also reflects on the importance of nearby Ohio bands like TNT Flashers and East Coast, both hailing from Steubenville.
He counts the Rainbow Room in Beaver Falls and the Midland Elks as other hot spots that should be noted in this historical account.
Other notable clubs according to Billingslea were Club 25 in East Liverpool, Ohio, The Inferno on the main street and the Paramount Club in Coraopolis where he saw The Dramatics perform.
Billingslea also credits his hometown for producing several of the premier funk musicians of Western Pa., namely the Rare Experience group. “They featured an all-star lineup, even way back then,” he said. He includes the following musicians: George Tyson, Gary Washington, brothers Maurice and Michael Jones, Allen Smith, Lateef, Rodney “Bogey” Burrow and Reggie “The Wizard” Jones.
“Wizard” Jones is currently a major force in Atlanta, where he’s contracted to conduct and arrange for many major music industry shows. He has served as music director for various TV specials. Jones also serves as Musical Director for many of the hottest performing acts from Atlanta, New York, Los Angeles and the world over. He spent most of 2012 as Musical Director for Justin Bieber, one of the world's hottest young entertainers.
Billingslea also reminds readers that the impact of having a commercial Black radio station in Pittsburgh should not be understated.
“Back then, we had WAMO (FM-106)—a strong Black radio station in our market. That made a world of difference in cultivating our Black pride and uniting all the individual regions and neighborhoods throughout the city, suburbs and outlying areas. And they also played Gospel music on Sundays. Black radio has always been a vital faction for our community development,” said Billingslea. "It's a major void in Pittsburgh right now.”
Although they were younger musicians in the early 1970s, drummer Cecil Brooks III and bassist Dwayne Dolphin were well aware of the happenings in their industry.
Last Updated on Wednesday, 27 March 2013 10:13
Category: Entertainment Written by Ashley G. Woodson
Davon and Fife representin’ at “A Tribute to James Owens” at CJ’s in the Strip District.
This week I visited Mélange Bistro Bar in Downtown Pittsburgh, CJ’s in the Strip District, Tim’s Bar in the Hill District and the Greater Pittsburgh Coliseum in Homewood.
My first stop was at Mélange Bistro Bar in Downtown Pittsburgh where everyone came out to Martini Mondays to pay tribute to the late James Owens through partying and having a great time in his memory.
My next stop was at CJ’s in the Strip District where John Cheatwood presented “A Tribute to James Owens” with family and friends in attendance.
My next stop was at Tim’s Bar in the Hill District where everyone came out to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day.
My final destination was at the Greater Pittsburgh Coliseum in Homewood where Lemington Community Services presented their 1st Ever Line Dance Blue Jean cabaret featuring Mighty Man, Roland Ford and Brotha Ash.
You know Brotha Ash has a REAL CONNECTION to the community. Send all of your party and event information to info@BrothaAshProductions.com and I’ll see you next week OUT AND ABOUT!
Last Updated on Wednesday, 27 March 2013 10:12
Category: Entertainment Written by Courier Newsroom
BAD BOYS, WATCHA GONNA DO?-- This series features police officers, constables and sheriffs’ deputies patrolling streets for car thieves, drug pushers, sex-trade workers, violent thugs and anyone else who dares step onto the wrong side of the law.
New York, NY – ColorOfChange.org and its members are urging FOX, and corporate advertisers of the television show COPS, to make the 25th season of show its last in primetime.
Last Updated on Sunday, 24 March 2013 14:33
Category: Entertainment Written by Associated Press
WANTED-- In this Oct. 2, 2010 file photo, rapper Gucci Mane arrives on the red carpet for the BET Hip Hop Awards in Atlanta. (AP Photo/John Amis, File)
ATLANTA (AP) — An arrest warrant was issued for Gucci Mane after a fan told police the rapper hit him in the head with a champagne bottle at a downtown Atlanta nightclub.
Last Updated on Sunday, 24 March 2013 14:07
Category: Entertainment Written by Associated Press
NEW AD CAMPAIGN--This undated promotional image released by H&M shows entertainer Beyonce in an ad for H&M's new summer advertising campaign. Beyonce will be featured on billboards, and in print ads and TV commercials. (AP Photo/H&M)
by Samantha Critchell
AP Fashion Writer
NEW YORK (AP) — Beyonce, who seems to be everywhere as she prepares for her upcoming world tour, is going to be seen in even more places.
Last Updated on Thursday, 21 March 2013 19:37
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