My introduction was through James Brown and the Famous Flames. An album was released in the early 60’s, titled “Live at the Apollo” and the Godfather of Soul splashed right into the middle of the exploding young American music scene.
I remember the Buddy Holly movie when Holly and the Crickets were booked into the Apollo, sight unseen, and when the curtain raised, everyone, performers and audience, were stunned. The band played on and a bridge was crossed.
The Apollo has been there in the tapestry of my music history and now I was getting a chance to see a show, live at the Apollo. I was pumped! And it wasn’t just any show. It was Amateur Night at the Apollo!
“Be Good or Be Gone”….that is not just a T shirt phrase here!
The show was hosted by a comedian, Capone. This guy was funny and an excellent MC. He was on cue and didn’t miss a beat bringing a hilarious take on the show, the audience, the performers and himself.
“Be Good”…. The singers, musicians and dancers have talent levels equal to that of the Voice or America’s Got Talent. We listened to a jazz singer that sang scat and had the entire auditorium tapping their feet and bobbing their heads. A pop diva type, sounding like Jennifer Hudson, stood the house up with her ballad and a blues guitarist took us on a trip making it seem that Joe Bonamassa was in the building.
“Or Be Gone”…..Not all the acts were that good. As a matter of fact, two of the acts were just pathetic. The audience wasted no time in letting them know they were pathetic and booed them unmercifully. “The Enforcer”, a tap dancer, clicked his way out across the stage pushing the offenders of entertainment decorum off the stage into the wings. This was met with wild cheers from the crowd. We had never seen anything like that and it was really refreshing and honest. Rude, but refreshing and honest!
At the end of the show, the winner is crowned by an audience applause meter on a huge screen dropped from the rafters to the stage. The three top finishers move to the next level of competition vying for contest prizes of $20,000, to be awarded at the end of competition in November. Whoever wins this thing is gonna Be Good! The others? They’ll Be Gone!