The Al Downing Tampa Bay Jazz Association hosts a jam session every Sunday at the historic Manhattan Casino in St. Pete. This Sunday I'll be in the bass chair.
Admission is free and there is a wide variety of food available from Sylvia's Restaurant as well as beer and wine so come hungry!
Built in 1925, the Manhattan Casino is significant for its contribution to entertainment and the culture in the African American community for more than forty years.
The Manhattan Casino is located along 22nd Street South in what was once a thriving "main street" of the City's African American community.
The Manhattan Casino was a showcase for local African American artists as well as a haven for traveling African American entertainers who would stop in St. Petersburg during their tours. Some of American music's most legendary performers played at the Manhattan including James Brown, Louis Armstrong, Fats Waller, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Lionel Hampton, Cab Calloway, Ray Charles, Nat King Cole, Sarah Vaughn, Fats Domino and the Ink Spots.
After the era of the big bands, the Manhattan Casino hosted dances featuring local artists; rock and roll and blues singers popular in the 1960's also performed at the Casino. Goldie Thompson, local minister and radio personality, booked religious programs at the Casino, as did Father Divine, a spiritualist. The venue closed its doors in 1968. The doors reopened in August 2013 and is now a multi-purpose event facility used for banquets, parties, family functions, meetings, wedding receptions, musical events and much more.