During the days of segregation when even Jewish merchants weren’t welcome in downtown St. Petersburg, 22nd Avenue and 9th Street was the entertainment ‘Hotspot’ of Black St. Pete! Today, the Creole Café is the anchor of the community and brings a spicy mix of authentic New Orleans cuisine and an affordable gospel jazz brunch in a corner hot spot literally dripping with ambiance and soul.
Today’s entertainment was jazz vocalist Fred Johnson who brought the unusual sound of the South American ‘Cajon’ with its African roots that looked like a Beat Box, and veteran bassist Michael Ross, a carpetbagger from Harrisburg, PA whose philosophy is, “Get a good sound, swing hard and play the bass like a bass”!
At the request of Chief Creole Café’s owner Elihu Brayboy who called for a gospel spirit to bless the first Sunday in April, Fred’s good friend and jazz vocalist Katt Hefner, joined the group for a soulful rendition of ‘Amazing Grace’ that had the patrons shouting with joy.
The area is now recognized as part of the African American Heritage Trail and is alive and well and is a vibrant landmark right off of Interstate 275 that uses black visuals and the cultural murals of local muralists such as ‘ZULU’ and Herbert Davis, Jr. who bring the neighborhood alive with images of Satchmo and Mahalia Jackson.
St. Pete is a hidden cultural and artistic gem just 40 minutes across the dramatic Skyway Bridge from Sarasota and the beach life. www.chiefscreolecafe.com