Good Blues Tonight was inspired by the loss of a historic Black business district in a central Kentucky community when the entire district was leveled to make way for a city park. This destruction was representative of many vibrant, historic Black communities throughout America that were re-shaped or destroyed by urban renewal projects during the 60's and early 70's. James Baldwin dubbed urban renewal "Negro removal" because some 2 million Blacks were forced by eminent domain to leave their homes and businesses to make way for parks, freeways or sports arenas. This happened in Chicago, Charlotte, Pittsburgh, Kansas City - NEARLY EVERYWHERE - and even in Louisville's Walnut Street district. Our story focused on one barbershop's success at holding off the bulldozer to 10+ years. "We were here and will not be forgotten." this play shouts to the rafters!
Big Mama Thornton and other "chitlin circuit" star's voices pulses through Good Blues Tonight. Jim Crow laws closed the door to White owned movie theatres and night clubs. Black entertainment clubs thrived after WWII and well into the 60's. Many scholars believe it was these Black owned blues clubs, that booked such star acts as Big Mama Thornton, Etta James, Ike and Tina Turner, Little Richard and James Brown, that created Rock and Roll. Good Blues Tonight celebrates the historic and legendary contribution of "The Chitlin Circuit!"
Good Blues Tonight was commissioned by and originated at Pioneer Playhouse (pioneerplayhouse.com
). Good Blues Tonight was written and directed by award winning filmmaker and stage director Robby Henson, who has created 5 feature films with Academy Award-winning talent for Fox Studios and Lionsgate.
Learn more about this performance in the video below, or click here for more info!