Friday, April 27, 2007

At Baker's Keyboard Lounge

Baker's Keyboard Lounge in Detroit is always worth checking out. It's got all the live ambience, relaxed hepcats, and smooth acoustics any jazz fan could want in an intimate venue. Plus soul food, Southern fried, and good drinks -- all very affordably priced. The oldest running jazz club in the business, Baker's is very accessible on weeknights; not surprisingly, weekends can be more crowded, with a wait.

The other night I dropped in to hear Kris Lynn, a Motown-connected singer, cover standards and tell little stories. Introducing "For Once in My Life," she recalled being on site when it was written. She also introduced the nattily dressed Maxine Powell, a key Motown talent agent now in her early nineties, creator of Maxine Powell Finishing and Modeling School. A dapper gentleman friend accompanied her (he was not introduced).

Naturally I was curious and did a little research later in the week. Turns out that Maxine Powell (b. Texarkana, Texas, 5/30/1915) first visited Detroit in 1945. She opened her school in 1951 and ran her own talent agency. One of her models, Gwen Gordy Fuqua, hooked up a deal between Powell and Barry Gordy, head of Motown, in 1964. Ms. Powell then trained the Motown performers how to dress, act and behave -- everyone from Martha Reeves to Marvin Gaye, The Temptations and The Supremes.

After a break with Gordy in the late 1960s, Powell taught classes at Wayne County Community College, did consulting work; last I checked, the Maxine Powell Finishing and Modeling School was located in a suite on East Jefferson Avenue in Detroit.

On any given night, Baker's Keyboard Lounge is sure to have nice surprises like Powell in the audience. Dig it, man!

Today's Rune: Partnership.

Birthdays: Edward Gibbon, Mary Wollstonecraft, Samuel Morse, Herbert Spencer, Ulysses S. Grant (b. Hiram Ulysses Grant), Cecil Day-Lewis, Yórgos Theotokás, Jack Klugman, Coretta Scott King, Anouk Aimée, August Wilson, Kate Pierson, Arielle Dombasle .

Happy Weekend to all!


JR's Thumbprints said...

You have a special talent for unearthing interesting facts. I'm beginning to think that not only are you a talented writer, but you're aslo one of the best librarians in the Detroit area. So when do you have time to frequent such places as Baker's Keyboard Lounge?

Erik Donald France said...

Aw shucks, thanks Jim. Time? Gotta push out there some week nights, even with a tight schedule.

lulu said...

I want to go!