Friday, July 31, 2015

Louise Brooks film and blues moaner Clara Smith

Over the years, I've come across newspaper advertisements for one or another of Louise Brooks' films which have included musical acts on the bill. That's because back in the 1920's, many theaters programmed musical or vaudeville acts to accompany films.

For example, I have found advertisements which had a Brooks' film and performances by Paul Ash and Vincent Lopez (each a noted band leader of the time), as well as another with a Brooks' film and the great jazz pianist Art Tatum!

And here is another I just came across, proclaiming an appearance by the great Clara Smith (c. 1894 – February 2, 1935), an African America blues singer billed as the "Queen of the Moaners". Also showing was the 1926 Louise Brooks' film Love Em and Leave Em.

This particular ad promotes the Royal Theater, one of Baltimore finest and one of a circuit of five such theaters for Black entertainment in big cities. (Its sister theaters were the Apollo in Harlem, the Howard Theatre in Washington, D.C., the Regal Theatre in Chicago, and the Earl Theater in Philadelphia.) The biggest stars in Black entertainment, including jazz and blues singers aand musicians, performed at the Royal. Ethel Waters debuted there, as did Pearl Bailey, who sang in a chorus line. Louis Armstrong and Fats Waller worked as accompanists, while Louis Jordan, Duke Ellington and others performed at The Royal.

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