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November 8th, 2009

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My father and his brothers and sisters probably lived right upstairs, in the fashion of the times, from this wild and rollicking saloon, which my grandfather, Alfred Greenfeld, established in the 1890s. The saloon continued at the "Corner of Chestnut & Low" until the last years before Prohibition, when it (and the family) moved into the home of my Uncle's William's (Dr. William Greenfeld, M.D.) more uptown digs, until Prohibition had its way with the bar.  My father never spoke to me about any of this, except that his dad owned a bar in Baltimore.  I first heard that the famed Jazz Composer Eubie Blake had immortalized my grandfather's saloon from my late cousin Alfred Greenfeld, himself a colorful character, retired Marine and CIA spook.  How *colorful* the Saloon was I only recently discovered, courtesy of "The Storm is Passing Over - From the Church to Baltimore's Best Bordellos".  (https://jshare.johnshopkins.edu/pdennis5/public_html/storm/story/story3.html) Interestingly, my Dad, Albert Greenfield, who came South during the Great Depression, was a non-drinker and both my parents avoided bars like the plague.

NOTES ON EUBIE BLAKE AND MY GRANDFATHER’S SHADY SALOON

By allengreenfield

David Greenfeld, Alfred Greenfeld (R) and, in back, Matilda Greenfeld
David Greenfeld, Alfred Greenfeld (R) and, in back, Matilda Greenfeld


NOTES ON EUBIE BLAKE AND MY GRANDFATHER’S SHADY SALOON

The saloon continued at the “Corner of Chestnut & Low” until the last years before Prohibition, when it (and the family) moved into the home of my Uncle’s William’s (Dr. William Greenfeld, M.D.) more uptown digs, until Prohibition had its way with the bar.  My father never spoke to me about any of this, except that his dad owned a bar in Baltimore.  I first heard that the famed Jazz Composer Eubie Blake had immortalized my grandfather’s saloon from my late cousin Alfred Greenfeld, himself a colorful character, retired Marine and CIA spook.  How *colorful* the Saloon was I only recently discovered, courtesy of “The Storm is Passing Over – From the Church to Baltimore’s Best Bordellos”.  (https://jshare.johnshopkins.edu/pdennis5/public_html/storm/story/story3.html) Interestingly, my Dad, Albert Greenfield, who came South during the Great Depression, was a non-drinker and both my parents avoided bars like the plague.


“In 1902 Eubie Blake was with the traveling show “In Old Kentucky”. Later that same year, Blake made his return to nightclub playing in Alfred Greenfeld’s Saloon in Baltimore MD, where he composed his next rag, Corner of Chestnut and Low, the address of Greenfeld’s club.”

“Baltimore’s Eubie Blake was one of the most prominent ragtime musicians on the East Coast in the early 20th century, and was known for a unique style of piano-playing that eventually became the basis for stride, a style perfected during World War I in Harlem. Blake was the most well-known figure in the local scene, and helped make Baltimore one of the ragtime centers of the East Coast, along with Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.[27] He then joined a medicine show, performing throughout Maryland and Pennsylvania before moving to New York in 1902 to play at the Academy of Music there. Returning to Baltimore, Blake played at The Saloon, a venue owned by Alfred Greenfield patronized by “colorful characters and ‘working’ girls”; The Saloon was the basis for his well-known “Corner of Chestnut and Low”. He then played at Annie Gilly’s sporting house, another rough establishment, before becoming well-known enough to play throughout the city and win a number of national piano concerts.”

“After playing melodian and buck dancing in a medicine show through the Maryland and Pennsylvania countryside, Blake did a stint in a plantation-style review at New York’s Academy of Music in 1902. He returned to Baltimore to play piano at Alfred Greenfield’s Saloon, an establishment haunted by colorful characters and “working” girls. He immortalized the place in his “Corner of Chestnut and Low.”

“After Greenfields, he played for Annie Gilly’s sporting house at 317 East Street where the patrons carried knives and brass knuckles. Blake became a star attraction at cafes and clubs and a perennial winner in national piano playing contests. For a while he teamed up with Preston Jackson and his group. “

This entry was posted on November 7, 2009 at 8:43 pm and is filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site. Edit this entry.



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