Chamblee54

The Great Southeast Music Hall

Posted in Georgia History, Music by chamblee54 on May 23, 2013






The Great Southeast Music Hall was an important part of life in Atlanta during the seventies. It was located in the elbow of a shopping center, Broadview Plaza. A bowling alley was downstairs, a two level K mart next door, and Atlanta’s first hispanic neighborhood across the street. Like almost everything else here, Broadview Plaza was torn down, and replaced by a more uppity set of stores.

When you went into the lobby of the Music Hall, you noticed the walls. Performers were given a magic marker, and encouraged to leave a message. John Mayall found the ladies room, and said he likes to be near the ladies. The late Phil Ochs said “Impeach Nixon and Agnew”. What happened to those boards is a good question.

The auditorium held about 500 people. The stage was only three feet or so above the floor. There was an empty space in front of the stage, and a few rows of bench backs behind that. When the place opened, there were lots of pillows on this floor, with the Music Hall logo. The carpet in this front area was fresh when the place opened, and got progressively grosser as the years went by. Beer was served in aluminum buckets, and inevitably some wound up on the carpet.

The show the Music Hall is most famous for is the US debut of the Sex Pistols. PG didn’t make it that night, but has heard from a few who did. The performance was said to be horrible. There are stories of Sid Vicious wandering through the apartments around Broadview trying to find heroin. Years later, PG was reading about that night in Please Kill Me, when the train he was riding pulled into the Lindberg Marta station. This is across the street from the Broadview Plaza, still standing at the time.

These days, the intersection of Lindbergh Drive and Piedmont Road (about a mile north of the park) is next to Hiway 400. When the Music Hall was in it’s prime, the land for the Highway was owned by the State of Georgia, which was fighting legal battles over the highway. The land had a network of dirt roads, one of which connected Buford Hiway to Lindbergh Drive. When you went from Chamblee to the Music Hall, the most direct route was over this dirt road. This dirt road is where Sidney Marcus Boulevard is today.

Eventually, the business model for the Music Hall did not work, and the facility moved to Cherokee Plaza. This Music Hall was in a movie theater. The Cherokee Plaza Theater was the scene for the world premiere of Son of Dracula . This move did not work, for a number of reasons. The parking lot was too small, and people who wanted a loaf of bread from the A&P were blocked out during shows. Cherokee Plaza is just outside the city limits, on Peachtree Road. In the late seventies, DeKalb county was aggressively fighting drunk driving, and had roadblocks. Many of these roadblocks were outside the Music Hall, which kept many people from attending. Before long, this Music Hall closed.

Many years later, PG bought a second hand typewriter, and needed a ribbon. (Younger readers should ask an older person about this.) He went into an office supply store in Broadview Plaza, and soon realized that he was standing on the site of the Music Hall. He asked the clerk if he could have a bucket of beer, and got a very strange look in return.

One industrious afternoon during this era, PG made a list of shows he saw at the Music Hall. The memory cells are already protesting, but we are going to try and remember as much as possible about these shows. A big thank you to Wikipedia for help with spelling and names.

New York Rock Ensemble – PG walked into the auditorium during the last part of the first show, as the band played “A whiter shade of pale”. The bass player wore lace up boots, with the pants legs tucked into them. Before long, the second show came on stage. Keyboard player Michael Kamen was the central focus, acting out the lyrics to “Anaconda”.

Silverman Deborah McColl fronted this drummerless band

Al Kooper PG has written about an unfortunate incident involving Al Kooper during this show. This would have never happened in “The Catcher in the Rye”…the kids always knew what time it was in that story. Mr. Kooper did a solo show, including “Sam Stone” by John Prine.

Ellen McIlwaine/ James Cotton Blues Band Ms. McIlwaine was pregnant, and played slide guitar. Mr. Cotton played harmonica. One of his players started to fan him with a towel, because he was hot.

Breakfast Special/ Doc and Merle Watson Breakfast Special was a local bluegrass crew, who did “The coming down song”. The Watsons did ” Deep River Blues” and “Thats All”, among other things. PG had a copy of their latest LP, and asked Merle to autograph it. He wrote his name on one side, turned it over, and signed Doc’s name on the other side.

Mason/Atlanta Rythym Section This show was the night Led Zeppelin played Atlanta Stadium.

New Riders of the Purple Sage When the Music Hall opened, a performer would typically play from Tuesday to Sunday. NRPS was a one night show. They worked well in the packed hall, and shined on “Glenville Train”. The next year, they did a tour with Commander Cody and The Lost Planet Airmen. Commander Cody opened, and raised hell. NRPS followed with a mellow rock show, and before long people were getting bored and leaving.

David Buskin / Loudon Wainwright III Chamblee 54 has written about this show before. Mr. Buskin talked about doing a show at Max’s Kansas City, the person sitting next to PG said “Gross”.

Steve Martin / Nitty Gritty Dirt Band Chamblee54 has written about the show by Mr. Martin . This was his last tour as an opening act. Nitty Gritty was a sight to behold. John McEuen played fiddle, and recited a poem about life.

Martin Mull / Melissa Manchester PG went to see Mr. Mull, who opened the show with a three piece band. (After the show, Mr. Mull said the name of the band was the (your name) (draws a blank with his fingers) orchestra.) The headliner was Ms. Manchester, little known at the time. She was a knockout. While standup comedy has it’s place, for emotional impact there is nothing like a singer.

Texas Gary Bennett / Weather Report Mr. Bennett played acoustic guitar, and sang, as an opener for a packed house of jazz rockers. It did not go well. At one point, trying to get some rapport with the crowd, he said ” has anyone here been busted at the Omni?” ( The authorities had begun arresting people for smoking pot at the major concerts.)

Weather Report was amazing. Josef Zawinul had the loud keyboard sound, Wayne Shorter played his leads on soprano sax, and there was a drummer and percussion player. There was tons of rythym, to go with the electronic jazz sounds. When it was over, PG went up to Mr. Zawinul, shook his hand and, and said thank you. He was pouring a glass of beer from a pitcher, and looked a bit startled.





David Pomerance / Rahsaan Roland Kirk Chamblee54 has written about this show before. Mr. Kirk was a force of nature, the modern miracle of the tenor saxophone. He did not suffer from false modesty. This was the night Richard Nixon resigned, which pleased Mr. Kirk no end. The blind Rahsaan said that he did not want to see his audience, because we were too ugly. At one point, his band had been jamming for about ten minutes, when PG realized that Mr. Kirk had been holding a single note the entire time. The three saxophones at one time thing was a visual shocker, but he got sounds that way that you cannot get from a single instrument. At one point, Mr. Kirk pulled his sunglasses off, and made a face at the crowd. It was an amazing evening.

Chic Corea / Return to Forever This was a disappointment. Tickets were $4.50, which may be the most PG ever paid at the Music Hall. The band only played about an hour. It was all electric, ignoring the acoustic instruments set up on stage. RTF was a four piece, all star band. They had Chic Corea on keyboards, Stanley Clarke on bass, Al Demeola on guitar, and Lenny White on drums. That sounds like a great show, but it turned out to be four solo artists jamming. There was no cohesion, and the overall sound was less than the sum of the individual parts. Corea leaned over his keyboard, twisted knobs, and made faces, as if to say “look at how intense this is”. It wasn’t.

Mccoy Tyner The former Coltrane sideman played a very nice show. He had a percussion man, with several tables covered in exotic instruments. PG took a break after to first show to hang out at a neighborhood disco. When he got back, there was no doorman checking tickets, and anyone could walk in for free. PG took advantage of this discovery many times over the next few years.

Bill Crystal / Jean Luc Ponty Former Frank Zappa player Jean Luc Ponty played at the Music Hall, with a bass player who was a fellow Zappa alumni. The surprise of the evening was then-unknown Bill Crystal. A few weeks after this show, “Soap” would premiere, and make him a star. Mr. Crystal did a killer impersonation of a gila monster.

Between shows, Mr. Crystal had been entertained by a local musician. During the second show, he held his finger to his nose, made a snorting sound, and said thank you. PG heard this, and yelled “Locker Room”, the name of a “deooderizer” that some liked to get a buzz sniffing. Mr. Crystal said “Locker room. Jeez, I need to get the hecklers rosetta stone to know what he means”. Good times.

Keith Jarrett This is another show that might have been better than PG’s enjoyment. At one point early in the show, PG moved over to the front of the stage, to look at Mr. Jarrett’s hands. After the show, people told PG that the player had been giving him dirty looks when he did that. PG asked Mr. Jarrett about it, and he said that PG had interfered with his concentration.

This show featured a quartet, instead of a solo piano. The bass player was Charley Haden, who seemed a bit puffy faced. PG later learned that he had been addicted to heroin at the time.

Melissa Manchester Ms. Manchester came back for another week at the Music Hall, about a year after her first appearance. At one point, she asked the band if they were ready to do a new song, and then performed “I got eyes” for the first time in public. This was later the b side to “Midnight Blue”. One of the players in her band was a man named James Newton Howard. Part of the deal for touring with her was that he could play a solo number on piano, called “Newton’s Ego”. He later played with Elton John, and became wealthy writing film scores.

Flora Purim /Airto Moreira On PG’s 23rd birthday, Flora Purim played at the Music Hall. At the time, PG had a profound appreciation of her albums. The band had a nice sound, and was the equal of her records. The Chic Corea tune “Light as a Feather” was a standout. Her husband, Airto Moreira ( eye, ear, toe) fronted the band on some of the numbers, and had some funny routines. Ms. Purim held two microphones throughout the show, with one connected to some audio filters. PG found holding two microphones to be visually distracting. PG had known of the Jewish ancestry of Ms. Purim, but had not thought much about it. Then he saw her live, and realized that she does, indeed, look Jewish.

Hot Tuna Hot Tuna is a dependable, though not spectacular, band. On a previous show in Atlanta, they went on stage at 10:55, and played without a break until 2:50. This night, a fried of a friend was working at the Music Hall, and PG got in before the crowds, to get a prime spot, in the first row of benchbacks. At one point, PG was rocking back and forth against the benchback, and a neighbor asked him to quit.

Shakti This was an acoustic, Hindu oriented band fronted by guitar superman John McLaughlin. The numbers seemed to go on forever.

David Manion / Mark Almond This was a long awaited Atlanta performance by Mark Almond. (This is a jazz/blues band, totally different from the Soft Cell vocalist with a similar name.) They played two sets, which were only an hour or so long. This was disappointing to the people who could not wait for the second show. In the second show, they “took the shackles off” saxophone player Johnny Almond, and he played a wild solo during “The city”.

The incident we are about to describe may or may not have involved David Manion. What happened was, a small portable radio was playing on the edge of the stage. The spotlight was on the radio, which sounded like gibberish to most of the audience. Gradually, the chattering audience got quiet, and tried to listen to the radio. After a few minutes, a man came out, and stood in darkness behind the radio. The PA speaker announced “The new force of rock in Atlanta”. The man then dropped a large piece of granite on the radio, smashing it into bits.

Laurie Chapman / Stomu Yamashta Laurie Chapman was a singer/piano player, with some good stories. She told of a trucker, driving beside her and talking to her on a cb radio. ” You better get that drink out from between your legs before it gets too hot to handle”.

Stomu Yamashta is somewhat of a star in Japan. The show here was filmed for showing on TV there. His band, Go, was an all star collection, including Ava Cherry. She was a backup vocalist, and girlfriend, with David Bowie. After the show, PG was introduced to Spencer Davis in the lobby.

The next few shows were at Cherokee Plaza.

Martin Mull Mr. Mull was a solo star this time. He did a song about doing nothing, adding that dead people can do it too. The parking lot was packed, which was a major problem at the new location.

The week before the Super Bowl in 1994, Mr. Mull filmed a Comedy Central show in Woodruff Park. The Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders were kicking field goals. After the filming PG stood a few feet away from Mr. Mull, but could not think of anything to say.

Sun Ra PG went to a wedding, and a bunch of people from there to see Sun Ra. This was an entertaining spectacle, with a big band and dancers. After the show, PG asked Sun Ra how he could afford to take a band like that on the road. He said he was doing it for beauty.

David Bromberg This was another big band production. PG showed within a few minutes of the gateman leaving his post, and saw about 45 minutes without buying a ticket.

Lester Flatt/John Hartford One boring Saturday night, PG walked up to the Music Hall, and saw the two fiddle players jamming. A few weeks later, Lester Flatt passed away. This is a repost.




2 Responses

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  1. Cal Gough said, on May 27, 2013 at 6:36 am

    I think it was at the GSMH that I saw Lily Tomlin. Does that sound possible???

  2. Steve Martin | Chamblee54 said, on June 10, 2013 at 10:22 pm

    […] of the Bride”. Good times. The story of Steve Martin and PG began one night at the Great Southeast Music Hall. PG got tired of hearing how great the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band was, and decided to see a show. The […]


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