A nice shot of the bandstand at the historic Martha's Midway Tavern & Dancehall in Mishawaka IN as passed along by South Bend-area photographer Todd Gentzhorn.
A passerby walking down the sidewalk might miss altogether the unassuming storefront of Martha's Midway Tavern & Dancehall. Opened in 1924 Martha's is a Midwest live music landmark having been featured on CNN and in People magazine. Situated between the General Tire Store and a residence, Martha's lies kitty-corner from Maury's Pub which sits across the street from the NAPA Auto parts store and is just three blocks from two train rails constantly crossing the heartland. Nestled in this cozy south-side working-class neighborhood Martha's is as real as advertised: a vintage tavern and authentic dance hall. The tavern out front features the bar area and pool table where on most music nights you pay no cover. The dance hall in the back, unchanged for decades with plaster walls and two rows of antique decorative globe lights running the length of the room, is ticketed however. This place you'll notice reeks with history--musical and otherwise. It's said that Al Capone used to hang here in prohibition days; tunnels underneath the building lend credibility to that assertion. By looking at the many pictures on the walls and the scribbled signatures behind the stage it seems like just about every blues/roots musician/band in the past 50 years has played Martha's.
On stage this night was the Kim Wilson Blues Revue featuring hometown boy "Little Frank" Krakowski. From left, at the piano Barrelhouse Chuck (Little Brother Montgomery) who has studied under all of the famous Chicago blues piano players including Sunnyland Slim; Billy Flynn (guitar) formerly with Mississippi Heat and we hear tell is some kind of phenomenal mandolin player; behind the kit is drummer Richard Innes who is a true legend with world-wide recognition as an innovator of the West Coast jump blues style having played with the Hollywood Fats Band and George "Harmonica" Smith; Kim Wilson, sounding all the more like the late great Little Milton; originally from Richmond CA, Randy Bermudes on bass (Fabulous Thunderbirds) and Little Frank. Also partially obscured at far left is Amanda Wilson, amp hauler for the weekend.
The show at the Midway was the group's fourth gig in two days (as musicians sleep schedule goes it was really only about a day and a half with the early start on Sun). In attendance at the Valentines Day show was singer Tom Moore of Little Frank & the Premiers who bears a striking vocal resemblance to O.V. Wright. Gerry Hundt, also known as a great mandolin player himself (Nick Moss & the Flip Tops) radio guy Ol' Harv and "Big" Frank Krakowski. www.themidwaytavern.com
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