HOUSTON, TX - Houston's Third Ward has a long and storied musical history, from blues to Jazz, R&B and more .. musicians from this area made important contributions to these uniquely American genres, and one building in particular was home base for Third Ward's best and brightest stars.
"Back in the mid 20th century, there were so many heavy hitting musicians that came out of that building right there." If you wanted to see big name talent, the Eldorado Ballroom was the place to be.
"Many touring acts came through here--Jazz and R&B. Ray Charles played here, count basie played here."
In it's hey day during the 40's and 50's, The El Dorado Ballroom was "the" place see and be seen! "and" to dance the night away.
"My mom and my dad have passed, but when we were younger. You guys don't know how to dance. When we were younger, we would go to the Eldorado ballroom--dance and jig and the floor would separate when we would dance."
People would come from all over Houston to this spot because they new, the music was top notch.
"The Eldorado represented upscale, orchestrated blues , 17 - 18 piece bands led by Pluma Davis, Ed Golden, Conrad Johnson."
One of the most influential artists to emerge from the eldorado was conrad o. johnson .. who later went on to world wide acclaim as the leader of the famed kashmere stage band. connie bodacious was one of his students and remembers him well. "Conrad was even in that place he was an amazing musician. When you are in the classroom, you know never know who is teaching you, that man was an icon."
The marker outside of the building includes the of a few artists like Milton Larkin, Arnett Cobb but there were many more that made this spot a hot bed of Houston music. "A beautiful woman that is still with us lives down on eagle street. Jewel Brown how worked for 8 years as the featured singer with Louis Armstrong Band."
One of the most famous musicians living and playing in Third Ward during those days was regularly found playing "outside" of the venue." In the city of Houston which has hundreds of historical markers, there is only one devoted to a single musician, Sam Hopkins known as Lightning--influential in the history of blues." Because of the eldorado and other juke joints which are now long gone, local musicians found a home and so did their fans. "This was a hot spot. This was a major intersection for black economic life and black social life in the mid 20th century. Not just in Houston for really Texas African-American history, this is a really important part."