4201 S. Central, the location of the Downbeat Room, via Google Street View. Notice the Dunbar Hotel next door. The famous Club Alabam’ was nearby at 4215 S. Central.
Jan. 9, 1947: Mabel Scott and Gerald Wilson open the year at the Downbeat Room (also Down Beat Club) at 4201 S. Central Ave., which called itself “The Home of the Big Little Bands.” Judging by the Los Angeles Sentinel stories, the Downbeat Club was active from about 1947 to about 1950. As for manager Maxine Herreford, we can find nothing. Also appearing in 1947 were Cee Pee Johnson and His Tom Toms; Edgar Hayes and His Stardusters, pianist Edgar Hayes, guitarist Tedd Bun, drummer Blinky Allen and bass player Curtis Councee; The Blenders, with Jimmy/Jimmie Grissom; Joe Liggen’s Honeydrippers; and trombonist Vic Dickson.
Note: For those who just tuned in, we’re going to reboot the concept of the 1947project (founded by Kim Cooper and Nathan Marsak) by going day by day through 1947 – but using the Los Angeles Sentinel, an African American weekly, rather than the very white and very conservative Los Angeles Times. We promise you an extremely different view of Los Angeles.
(The historic Los Angeles Sentinel is available online from the Los Angeles Public Library. We encourage anyone with a library card to delve into the back issues and explore the history of black L.A.
In October 1947, the Sentinel said that it was refusing ads from the Downbeat because it refused to hire a black cashier when new management took over the business.
Note: There is very little information on the Downbeat/Down Beat aside from ads in the Sentinel. It is mentioned in passing several times in Bette Yarbrough Cox’s “Central Avenue – Its Rise and Fall” and there is nothing in R.J. Smith’s “The Great Black Way.”