There’s a kind of corny anachronism that might tempt you to go to 125th Street in Harlem on a Wednesday night so that you can witness its flashback style talent show where the not so talented are hauled off stage—before they can finish their act—by a shepherd’s hook wielding, tap dancing ‘executioner’. It all happens to the screams, hoots and jeers of an enthusiastic but merciless audience.
The thing is—and this is what you’re hoping to see—famous entertainers (Ella Fitzgerald, James Brown, Stevie Wonder, Lauryn Hill, Michael Jackson, even Jimi Hendrix, they say) have performed in this show, so you can’t know until you go whether you will be witnessing history being made.
Further, there is no lip-syncing, track vocals, high tech fakery, nada. It’s only live.
A few years ago I was in a panel discussion at the Apollo and afterward went backstage to view the wall of autographs. Wow! The signatures of so many well known Afro-American artist are there all protected with a sheet of plexiglass, but aren’t part of the public tour. If you can finagle your way in, go for it!
The amateur show has its own season and is presented on most Wednesdays. Check the website because there are many other events worth noting. I’m looking forward to a couple of upcoming Soul/R&B concerts. I saw Sharon Jones and Charles Bradley (both recently deceased) backed by the Dap-Kings perform there in 2016. What a stirring concert that was.