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Northern Soul Connections #22 - Baltimore

Northern Soul Connections #22 - Baltimore magazine cover

Northern Soul Connections #22 - Baltimore

Site note - The most recent Northern Soul Connection of 2020, we are now at #22 in this long running series from Ken B aka Soul Source member @Kenb and this time around the focus is on Baltimore.

Northern Connections #22 not just birthplace of the U.S. national anthem, "The Star-Spangled Banner" Baltimore and its close surroundings was a hotbed for music that became popular for our genre of Soul. The rosta of artists, songwriters, producers, labels, studios, recordings, and music business men and women is a long one and includes the likes of A&D Booking,  Soul House, Horizon House & Knights of Maryland Klu Klux Klan, Bay Sound, Recordings Inc, Collection & The Civics, as well as not so many non-music entities such as and Some familiar-some lesser known.

Rod H. Armstrong and Ernie W. Donaldson had started out by attending parties together, and quickly turned that love into a business when they threw a Christmas Gala party in 1970. The second party they put on netted them $1000 which they invested in promoting teenage dances at The Famous Ballroom, in the 1700 Block of N. Charles St. They were both in their mid-thirties, and both worked at The Prudential Life Insurance Company of America, each earning $12K to $1 SK p.a.

In 1971 they took a chance and formed A & D Booking Agency. In 1972 they signed Elanor Mills, The Titans, and The Soft-Tones (managed by Roe-Don Management Company, as too were Chang or & Co) and put Ira Glover on a 10 week tour of Canada leaving July 23rd. In 1973 they brought First Class together, and by 1975 they were grossing ....

 

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You can check out Kens other quality 21 Northern Connections all available via his 'activity' profile page, the link follows below...

More articles from KenB

 


  • Up vote 1



Source Magazine Comments

Roburt

Posted (edited)

Baltimore was always one of the top destinations on the east coast chitlin circuit (Baltimore, Washington, Philly, Harlem, etc) ...

After the Royal Theatre closed, the top venue for touring soul reviews became the Civic Centre ... this accommodated a lot more people than the Royal, so the reviews that played the city went from a week long series of shows @ the Royal to just one show @ the Civic (usually on a weekend) ... 

$3 to get to see 5 to 7 top soul acts -- seems a bit expensive to me.

soul BaltCivic66JJJacksonMont

Edited by Roburt
  • Up vote 2
Roburt

Posted (edited)

The Royal Theatre was up there with the Howard (DC), the Uptown (Philly), the Fox (Detroit), the Regal (Chicago) & of course the Apollo ...

The revue that the Valentinos were on was their 1st ever big tour (Oct / Nov 62) ... the guys came from a very religious background & this was the first time they'd been let off the leash. They took the opportunity to sample the wares of a professional lady & all ended up with the clap. 

soul BaltRoyalMont

Edited by Roburt
  • Up vote 1
Roburt

Posted (edited)

Baltimore black radio was also very important, lots of record labels trialling their new releases on the city's airwaves. If a new release took off there, then the company would put a lot of effort into promoting the track right across the US ... 

soul BaltWEBB64mont

Edited by Roburt
  • Up vote 1
Roburt

Posted (edited)

two radio charts from stns in the city ...

soul WEBB1966Aug15

soul WSID1965Jan10

Edited by Roburt
  • Up vote 1
Roburt

Posted (edited)

If anyone has a strong interest in what happened (soul wise) in Baltimore in the 1960's, then I can recommend my book on Kenny Hamber as a comprehensive starter. Kenny was born in the city, grew up there & started his career there. He only moved away (heading north) at the end of the 1960's.

My book, to put his music career in context starts by detailing the background to black culture in the city. From the 1930's onwards Balt was always a jazz stronghold with many clubs featuring live acts nightly. When doo-wop came along, lots of the best early groups were from Baltimore. Strangely though, they seemed to mean more outside of the city (live show wise) as the local clubs stuck with jazz acts and largely ignored the doo-wop groups (who if they got to enjoy a hit 45 would end up back there playing the Royal Theatre as part of an R&B review show).

Kenny got into the biz in the early 60's and was always championed by local radio DJ's .. but he had to head out to land record contracts. 

soul KennyHamberGigMarch64

Edited by Roburt
  • Up vote 2
Roburt

Posted (edited)

In June 1968 @ Baltimores Civic Centre a big soul revue show was staged (see ad) ... Lou Ragland had just gone on the road as bass player in the O'Jays backing band (he wasn't a bass player at that time but he needed the job & the O'Jays needed a guy to play bass immediately). Anyway, the package headed straight out of Cleveland to Boston for their 1st show. The O'Jays toured constantly back then (they'd just started their stint with Bell Records but hadn't had a recent top selling record so needed to tour to eat) & their old tour manager had grown weary of living life out of a suitcase so had decided to stay home in Ohio. When the group's entourage got to Boston they found no hotel had been arranged for them, the club owner wasn't willing to feed them & he even cheated them over their appearance fee. So the guys were stuck with little money, no accommodation and no easy way to reach their next destination. Drastic action was needed instantly. Lou had spent 6 months touring (white clubs) the previous year as part of Terry Knight's backing band and had learnt just what went on when 'on the road' and how to overcome any adversity. So Lou was appointed the packages new tour manager & set about sorting things out for the guys. Within days of this, the package arrived in Baltimore for their show st the Civic Centre.     

At that time Bobby Massey was still a top member of the group on tour & Lou got on really well with Bobby (they are still very close friends even today). So Lou sorted out all the logistics; food, accommodation, etc. and the rest of the guys headed off to set up & do a sound check at the venue. Later in the day, Lou himself went to the Civic Centre and got to witness part of the show that night. He can't really recall some of the acts on the show (& he actually doubts that Shorty Long turned up to do the show at all) but he does recall that the Dells were magnificent on the night. He remembers that the 5 Stairsteps put on a good show too. ALSO that the Magnificent Men were really great live, that he immediately booked them to do a gig at a Cleveland Theatre that he part owned at the time (the Liberty Theatre). He tells me that the black audience back in Cleveland were wowed by the Magnificent Men's performance too, and didn't care a jot that the entire group were white guys. 

soul BaltOJaysShowJune68

soul CleveLibertyTheater68mont

Edited by Roburt
  • Up vote 2
Roburt

Posted

BTW, the O'Jays and the Fashions were both George Kerr acts (in the studio) back at that time. They hadn't actually met before doing the Baltimore show though (the O'Jays had cut their studio session with George back in late summer 67 whereas the 4 sisters who made up the Fashions hadn't made it into the NY studio with George until around March 68) ...  The O'jays 1st two Bell 45's had sold well (both being decent R&B chart hits) but they had gone off the charts in earlt March 68. So when the above tour had ben set up (early May 68) they weren't 'hot' and so had to accept less than perfect terms & conditions to secure bookings. Their 3rd Bell 45 came out just before the tour started and was soon climbing the R&B charts. By the end of May, "The Choice" was getting lots of radio airtime &b so Lou was able to 'strong arm' the show venue's owners into treating the guys better than would otherwise have been the case. Neither of the Fashions 45 sold well enough to make any national chart and so life on the road must have been quite hard for them (probably why the group didn't last too long).

soul GeorgeKerr68Fashions

  • Up vote 1
JJMMWG DuPree

Posted

Looking at that WEBB chart I can't help thinking, sometimes those university boffins with too much computing power and time on their hands get it right.  They declared, after accumulating mountains of research, that 1966 was the year in which pop music reached its peak, after which it began a slow decline.

I'm not saying there's no good music about today, but it's undeniable that there isn't nearly as much of it.

Oh, I nearly forgot...

Do we know who 'The Fabulous Feminine Society. were?

Chess1458

Posted

My city where I was born and raised and still work...Love this

Roburt

Posted

On 17/04/2020 at 00:01, JJMMWG DuPree said:

Oh, I nearly forgot...

Do we know who 'The Fabulous Feminine Society. were?

I really have little idea who they were. They were definitely DC based (not Baltimore) and I would GUESS that as they had such a high profile back in 69 they probably got to record but their tracks were either never released or they were put out under another group name.

Roburt

Posted (edited)

DC & Baltimore almost acted like one destination. Acts from each city would play gigs & even record in both. Baltimore was classed as more of a 'breakout' location than DC was but even record company packages that ventured down that way on promotional visits would go to both ... in AUGUST 1966 for instance, Capitol Records sent some acts down there  ...  

soul BaltDCshowsAug66

soul BaltRadio66

Edited by Roburt
Roburt

Posted (edited)

As well as the Royal Theatre, Balto had another couple of similar venues that would at times stage live shows. All had gone (as live venues by 67 though) ...

The city was also a strong outlet for juke box product (in it's bars & cafes), which led to it also becoming a centre for the pushing of 'Little LP's  -- 4 track 7" records).

In addition to the venues in the city itself, in the summer months local tourist areas would also stage live soul shows. Sparrows Beach was one such location but the main one was Carr's Beach (South east of Baltimore, east of DC) ...  

soul BaltShowStantonDec64

soul BaltBomar71

soul CarrsBch66mont

Edited by Roburt


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