Memories of Louis Armstrong return to the Historic Manhattan Casino

Dwayne White and J.J. Pattishall, president of the Al Downing Tampa Bay Jazz Association, rehearse for ‘Satchmo & St. Pete: A Love Story’ at the Historic Manhattan Casino on Thursday, Oct. 3.

ST. PETERSBURG — It was Ray Charles who sang the St. Pete Florida Blues, but he’s not the only jazz icon with a history in the Sunshine City.

Your Real Stories continues its annual Story Days in Tampa Bay with a celebration of jazz and one if its most famous figures. Known to some as Satchmo, the legendary Louis Armstrong came to perform in St. Petersburg on multiple occasions, leaving a lasting impression on all who heard him play.

In honor of Armstrong’s impact on the city, event partners Callaloo, Open Partnership Education Network, the City of St. Petersburg and Your Real Stories will host a night of live theater, music and dance based on interviews with Louis Armstrong’s daughter, her mother and St. Pete residents whose lives were touched by Satchmo’s legacy.

The event will take place Friday, Oct. 11 at the Historic Manhattan Casino where Armstrong regularly played on tours of St. Pete.  While the city endured segregation, the Manhattan was an oasis for the black community.

World-famous musicians such as Duke Ellington, Nat King Cole, and of course, Louis Armstrong regularly graced the iconic dancehall’s stage.

On tour stops to St. Pete, these musicians always performed a night at the Manhattan in addition to playing at white-only clubs located on just the other side of Central Avenue. Armstrong’s famous gravelly voice was equally admired by audiences on both sides of the divisionary street.

Bing Crosby once called Armstrong “the greatest pop singer in the world.” It was Armstrong himself who said, “If it hadn’t been for jazz, there wouldn’t be no rock and roll,” a statement that rings true for a number of music genres today.

The voices of those who knew him personally and local fans who admired him from afar will be relived through music, theater and dance for one night only at the Manhattan.

Music from Armstrong’s songbook will be performed by The Satchmo Sextet, featuring artists Dwayne White, J.J. Pattishall, Ron Gregg, Ben Winkler, Henry Ashwood and Randy Bordon, all musicians with deep ties to the Tampa Bay community.

Doors open at 8 p.m. Tickets are available at yourrealstories.blog.

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