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Most of the photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs, 20 to 200 megabytes in size) from the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) Many were digitized by LOC contractors using a Sinar studio back. They are adjusted by your webmaster for contrast and color in Photoshop before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here.

 
 
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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • NORWAY IN SEPTEMBER, c. 1920s

Nightspot: 1941

Nightspot: 1941

April 1941. "Entertainers at South Side tavern. Chicago, Illinois." Safety negative by Russell Lee for the Farm Security Administration. View full size.

 

Cool Elegance

As requested below ... A sampling of Lonnie Johnson's music from 1927-1947. I imagine he played one of these during a set. Ladies in hats and men including the musicians in suits and ties you just can't get gigs like that anymore.

Classy Good Times

I don't think you can find places like this anymore where class and dignity upgrade the enjoyment of the music, cocktails and fun. I like the lady in the fedora in the back booth looking directly at the camera like she knows more than most and the elegance displayed by all the good company present. Don't know why, but it brings to mind a little-known song sung by LaVern Baker (born in Chicago in 1929) called "Saved" which is a real hoot with words something like "I used to smoke, I used to drink, I used to do the hootchy coo, but now I'm saved..." and there is a big Salvation Army drum booming in the background. I'll have to look that up and have another listen. Anyway, thank you Shorpy for the provacative photo, just another one of which takes me back to younger days. Chicago, Chicago, a toddlin' town...

Lonnie

Mick H could be right. The resemblance to Lonnie Johnson is striking.

[More Lonnie here. - Dave]

Guitars

The guitar on the left is a 28 series Martin - you can tell by the white binding. It does look like a Dreadnought size, which surprises me. Man on the right has a Martin 00-21, which Lonnie Johnson played.

The Crowd

Stylishly well dressed and enjoying the show.

Martin Dreadnaught!

What I wouldn't give to have the guitar being played by the man in the center! Built by the C.F. Martin Company of Nazareth, Pennsylvania, it's a D-18. Hank Williams, Elvis, and other too numerous to mention played something similar.

Lonnie

Could the guitarist on the right possibly be Lonnie Johnson? He'd have been 42 at the time, and was I believe based in Chicago in the early Forties. Looks a lot like him anyway.

No reason for the photographer to know that he was snapping someone who'd played with Armstrong and Ellington, and is now seen as one of the great pioneers of blues/jazz guitar.

The woman in the mirror

is beautiful. I wonder if she's a partygoer or an employee? Sure wish we had sound with these pictures!

 
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