Who is a Lincoln Berry?
Jazz organist Lincoln Berry: Was born in St. Paul, MN and was the oldest of twelve. His musical background started on the piano at age three and played his first concert when he was at five yrs old. He was named church pianist at age eight. At age fourteen he played guitar as guest artist with Sam Cooke before he left the gospel group. At 16 he played behind Mahalia Jackson for several appearances with rev Billy graham crusade. At 17 he worked with young musician in several states in the mid-west training them to set-up and play the Hammond organ as churches in his denomination were acquiring them in large numbers. At 18 he did first pro gig as bassist, his 2nd as pianist, his 3rd as drummer and a few more on the piano all as a senior in high school.
Ten years ago Lincoln gave me the following for an article I was writing for a Dayton paper: “In 1962 started my true pro career started in Denver co. I was miles from home, had no job, almost broke, and didn’t want to be a burden on my family (after all I am the eldest of 11). I was walking down Welton Street and saw a sign that read, “talent contest every Tuesday night, winners receive $50, $25, $10″. I said to myself “I’m going to win that contest!” when upon entering the club there sat my favorite instrument, a “b3”! I was dashed when the bartender said, “that ended two weeks ago. We now have twist contest” (chubby checker era}. As I was leaving, the owner was coming in the door and asked, “May I help you young man?” (I looked all of 16). I said “no sir. They don’t have contest here any more.” “What do you do?” he asked, “Play the organ” I replied. He wanted to hear me so I played for him. I only knew about five secular standard tunes. Later I found out he and the barmaid were discussing my performance. She said, “He’ll never make it”. He said, ” Look at those big feet. He’s our next organist”. I would be replacing the well-known James Booker. That night I stopped in to hear the group. I thought I will never be able to do this, but I’m hungry so I must. I met the fellows and played for them. The guitarist (Brice Roberson) asked where I was from. It turned out he knew my cousin Thelma who was a dancer at the key club inMinneapolis. He said he knew of my reputation as a top gospel organist in the mid west. The bandleader, homer brown (tenor sax) showed me some charts and asked me to play them. He said, “you have an excellent left foot, but for jazz you need to develop your left hand. The singer (Gladys Denton) acted kind of snooty and gave me the feeling that I wasn’t good enough for them. I was to start in ten days. Homer worked with me every day and I learned three to five tunes and/or arrangements a day. I was only to play bass lines from the start, but after two nights I could not hold back from copying chords I heard from Brice who said “he said he has ears as big as this room” Three weeks and 100 tunes later, Gloria Lynn was to headline three days at the club. That was my first time backing well-known artist. I did not own my own b3 so I was stuck at this location for two and a half years. It so happened the club owner Leroy Smith was a promoter and hired many national known artists for concerts and performances at his club. Our band backed up about 75% of them.”
Lincoln and Joselane “Jo” Berry have been synonymous with the Jazz Central night club on East Third Street many years. Club owner Charles Stone told me “Lincoln Berry walked in one day and stayed thirty years.” They left Dayton on April 19, 2007 and went back to Minneapolis where Jo passed away on October 1, 2009. Lincoln comes back to the club on a yearly basis and will be performing a special concert with guitarist Cameron Voorhees this Saturday, April 27th.
Here are some (not all) of the upcoming jazz events for the next couple of weeks:
Today Wednesday, April 24 – Swing Dance with Lizz & Rex Review at The Dayton Event Connection and The Blue Wisp Big Band performs inCincinnati.
Thursday April 25 – Tony Monaco is at Giammarco’s Pizza in Westerville and Ricky Nye & the Paris Blues Band w/Lisa Biales are at Oxford’sCommunity Arts Center.
Friday April 26 – The New Money Jungle Quintet tribute to Ellington and Mingus is at Jazz Central in Dayton and Triage is at the Thompson House in Newport, KY.
Saturday April 27 – Lincoln Berry and Cameron Voorhees are at Jazz Central in Dayton and “Gypsy Jazz” with Tom Downs is at Spinoza’s inBeavercreek.
Sunday April 28 – The Jam Session w/ Kenny Baccus continues at Dayton’s Jazz Central and the Rumba Café has Hoo Doo Soul Band inColumbus.
Monday April 29 – The John Taylor Trio is at Brio Tuscan Grille in Beavercreek and Vaughn Wiester’s Famous Jazz Orchestra is at the Clintonville Woman’s Club in Columbus.
Tuesday April 30 – Spinoza’s in Beavercreek is celebrating World Jazz Day with Horns and Keys Trio – Bill Burns, Brian Cashwell and Mike Techenbrock.
Wednesday May 1 – John Pizzarelli is at Nighttown in Cleveland Heights and Todd Hepburn is at Arnold’s Bar & Grill in Cincinnati.
Thursday May 2 – The Jazz Central Big Band plays a tribute to Mark Dinkelacker at Jazz Central in Dayton and Jeff Hamilton & DePaul U. Jazz Ensemble at the Blue Wisp in Cincinnati.
Friday May 3 – Shawn Stanley Trio is at Carvers Steaks & Chops in Centerville and 1st Friday Rhythm & Blues is at Jazz Central in Dayton.
Saturday May 4 – The Bobby Floyd Trio is at Boudin’s Bistro & Jazz Club in Columbus and the Rusty Burge Quintet is at the Blue Wisp Jazz Club in Cincinnati.
Sunday May 5 – A Live Jazz Party produced by Gene Walker is at Hunan Gourmet Restaurant in Whitehall, OH and Ed Polcer and his Jazz All-Stars is at Gallagher Student Center Theater, Xavier University in Cincinnati.
Monday May 6 – Mark Flugge, Derek Dicenzo & Jimmy Castoe are at Due Amici in Columbus and John Taylor Trio is at The Brio Tuscan Grille in Beavercreek.
Tuesday May 7 – Dave Greer’s Classic Jazz Stompers is at Jimmies Ladder 11 in Dayton.
More info and jazz listings can be found at JazzAdvocate.com