When jazz was king, the Palace reigned.
The downtown Akron theater welcomed the best acts from the Cotton Membership in Harlem throughout the Thirties and Nineteen Forties. Legendary entertainers — singers, dancers, comedians and musicians — bought out 35-cent reveals within the ivory-domed auditorium.
Afterward, many entertainers carried out encores within the packed golf equipment alongside Howard Road in a district nicknamed Little Harlem. The African American entertainers stayed in a single day on the Mathews Resort.
The Palace opened in 1926, closed in 1966 and fell to the wrecking ball in 1970. As we speak, Akron-Summit County Public Library stands on the positioning.
In honor of Black Historical past Month, we dug up the unique Beacon Journal opinions from 10 well-known acts on the Palace. The excerpts are offered of their authentic language, together with some phrasing that may be objectionable at present.
The critics have been wowed. Right here’s what they wrote when the Cotton Membership got here to Akron.
THE MILLS BROTHERS
Overview by Oscar Smith on Oct. 8, 1934:
The Mills Brothers proved to weekend audiences on the Palace Theater that they’re as well-liked on the stage as they’re on the air.
Actually, these 4 harmonizers could be good even when they did solely straight singing, however as well as they’ve the well-known novelty of imitating devices of an orchestra. All their numbers are given with solely guitar accompaniment.
John Mills imitates the tuba, Harry the trumpet, Herbert the saxophone, and Donald, who sings the lead, can do any of the imitations when it’s needed.…
One in every of their finest numbers is “Lazy Bones,” a bit that’s simply as lazy as its title. Their “Outdated Man of the Mountains” is a good favourite of their radio and stage audiences, and so is the “Outdated Rocking Chair” quantity.
Many vaudeville acts have imitations which are simply that and nothing extra. However when the Mills Brothers imitate the tuba, sax, or trumpet the viewers forgets that these devices really will not be being performed, the harmonious impact is so superb.
BUCK AND BUBBLES
Overview by Edward E. Gloss on Oct. 27, 1934:
Ada Brown’s infectious singing paces the “Harlem on Parade” firm that’s introducing the autumn season for the Palace stage.
Ample Ada is singing songs the purchasers know, however presenting them with an expansive humor that gathers within the good will of an viewers with uncommon grace and thoroughness.
Her voice is enjoyable and her interpretation of the numbers, comedy or blues, of headliner high quality for any present within the street classification.
Buck and Bubbles (John W. Bubbles and Ford “Buck” Washington) retain the acquainted introduction, rolling their piano on stage to the accompaniment of a lot grumbling, then swinging into the dance steps interpolated with patter.
The dancing is the superior occasion.
Overview by Gloss on March 20, 1935:
Jimmie Lunceford and a scorching tempo orchestra prime the forged of the Cotton Clubbers on the Palace stage with a speedy array of amusement within the typical Harlem temper.
The all-colored musical revue that Lunceford brings to the Palace, like the opposite reveals born on the hardwood of the Harlem Cotton Membership, is a pace service provider.
It involves city with the apt title “Harlem Categorical” and strives mightily to dwell as much as the advance billing.
The purchasers will applaud, if the audiences on the opening performances are to be accepted because the criterion.
Alternating dance numbers, comedy, vocal specialties and novelties with band alternatives, the present has a large sufficient diversion to afford the pace essential to qualify it as a serious attraction for the stage followers.
Overview by Smith on March 4, 1936:
Cab Calloway, along with his “hi-de-hi” and “ho-de-ho,” and a bunch of entertainers, together with his justly famed orchestra, has taken over the Palace theater stage.
That Calloway is an effective showman in addition to a intelligent, vigorous orchestra chief was demonstrated when the present opened yesterday. He even had the viewers lustily singing his infectious jargon.
The Cab Calloway present, geared to a quick tempo, brought about many ft to faucet and lots of shoulders to sway on the Palace yesterday.
Audiences are in for some surprises, too. For simply after a wild session that includes loud trombones and drums, eccentric dancers and blues singers, Calloway is prone to announce a serene quantity, similar to “Pale Moon.”
The orchestra’s taking part in of this previous favourite Indian quantity, that includes muted horns, and with Benny Payne, the pianist, doing the vocal solo work, was one of many excessive spots of this system — though Calloway received his fame with noisier music.
After all, “Minnie the Moocher” was one of many numbers, with Calloway coaxing a “hi-de-hi” response from the viewers. One other quick quantity was “Trucking.” Calloway maybe is essentially the most athletic orchestra chief within the nation. He requires practically all of the stage whereas he’s waving his baton.
Overview by Gloss on Dec. 26, 1936:
With Ethel Waters nonetheless one of the best of the female coloured singers and entertainers topping the forged, “Swing, Harlem, Swing,” on the Palace Theater stage, is quick, melodious leisure.
The coloured revues have turn into acquainted to the Akron showgoer and novelty performs no half within the success of this attraction.
Miss Waters, with a mode that has defied imitators and a high quality of voice and showmanship to present her viewers the total worth of it, paces the present to a tempo that instantly lifts it to particular person honors.
She is singing the songs she made well-known — and which have turn into recognized together with her profitable years in Broadway musical comedy and revue.
She has an intensive repertoire as a part of the programmed present and responds willingly to the calls for for encores, giving extra star leisure than you’ll discover within the regular hour-long revue.
Overview by Gloss on July 1, 1939:
The swingsters have their finest guess for leisure in a number of months of stage watching as Duke Ellington and his firm burn it up on the Palace this weekend.
The Duke is topping the competitors with higher music and higher leisure, though he’s presenting fewer novelty acts — which is lucky, for those he has are tops and their scatter sports activities on this system give the viewers an opportunity to see nearly sufficient of them.
Actually, the Duke gives solely three specialties along with the work of members of his band — however every of the three is able to present stopping and meaning loads of leisure in one among these hour-long opinions.
From his opening, with a swell association of his personal compositions that’s blended with a powerful use of lighting, the Duke carries on by way of different songs of his personal writing and swing tunes from different pens.
By most of it a great ear for music could be discovered, however not at the price of the hard-hit rhythms the jitterbug contingent of the viewers calls for.
Overview by Gloss on June 22, 1940:
Louis Armstrong, one of many earliest apostles of swing, blows trumpet and leads his band in a program that may delight the toes of no matter yesterday’s rug-cutters are referred to as at present.
It’s a rhythmic and balanced assortment of well-liked numbers that Armstrong has organized for his bandsmen — and the musicians are all succesful performers on brass, reed, string and conceal.
However band or hut tunes, it’s the Armstrong trumpet that highlights the efficiency and is drawing the loudest applause from the swingsters out entrance.
THE INK SPOTS
Overview by Gloss on March 15, 1941:
Described because the “hottest factor” in information and radio, this spring season, the 4 Ink Spots are headlining a swing and jive revue that’s warmed proper as much as the temperatures of the celebrities.
The Ink Spots are vocalists with nearly completely matched voices and as close to flawless rhythm within the well-liked numbers they provide as these show-going ears have been handled to in seasons.
That “hottest” adjective will not be essentially utilized to their method of singing. These 4 boys will not be involved with hitting the utmost variety of beats within the minimal time on the stage. For this nook’s classification, they’re providing candy music — and it’s loads candy and many swingy!
BILL ‘BOJANGLES’ ROBINSON
Overview by Gloss on Dec. 13, 1941:
I want someplace I might discover new phrases to inform how full the enjoyment is whereas watching Invoice Robinson faucet out a dance.
The liveliest, most expressive toes within the nation, nevertheless, have had each adjective and each superlative heaped in reward earlier than the twinkling, humorous magic.
And it’s unnecessary to do greater than remind you that Invoice is on the town, exhibiting the dances and telling the right little jokes which have endeared him to audiences of stage, display and radio these many seasons.
Definitely Robinson is likely one of the few actually nice entertainers of the instances.
Overview by Betty French on Oct. 22, 1944:
Depend Basie’s on the Palace, bouncing out his incomparable model of boogie, and many of the viewers is madly bouncing with him.
That’s the best way it was at Friday’s first present anyway. Heads nodded, ft tapped, and some delirious prospects even squealed slightly to a boogie beat.
Solely doable criticism that may be made with the present is that the Depend didn’t give out with as a lot boogie because the viewers clearly demanded, however perhaps that’s good showmanship — to maintain them wanting all the time slightly bit extra.
He gave them a superior model of music all the best way, although, encompassing all the differing types — the blues, jive, and a minimum of, a pair candy, sluggish ballads.