Charles Burke and the Black Bottom

For several years up until I left Montreal in 1967 you could find me a few nights a week at the Black Bottom, one of the all-time great after hours jazz clubs, on St Antoine in what was the heart of the Black neighbourhood of Montreal, a couple of blocks from the famous Rockhead’s Paradise. The house band featured the legendary guitarist Nelson Symonds, bassist Charlie Biddle, and others whose names I’ll get for you later. The club opened about 11pm. You walkded down a flight of stairs to an uttely packed room that seated maybe 100 at most, you ate chicken wings and the like, and you left somewhere around five or six in the morning. And it was all presided over by owner Charles Burke.

I was last there forty years ago. Two years ago my friend, tenorman Stu Loseby, who had played at the Bottom back then, told me Burke had just moved to Vancouver.

“I have to see him.”

Stu plays a lunch hour gig downtown every Friday so we all met up there and that’s when I took these pictures. I immediately lost contact with Burke again but I just got off the phone with him. He says he’s moving to my neighbourhood the end of next month and promises to have me over and cook me up some of those fabled chicken wings. He’s also working on a history of the Black Bottom so look forward to more interesting historical notes because, frankly, I don’t remember that much.

Here’s Burke and Loseby:


If a book comes out on the history of the Black Bottom – I need it.
I spent so much time at the one on St. Paul, it was like a second home.
So please post if a book comes out.
Geri Newell (Montreal) Saturday, May 17, 2008


51 Responses to “Charles Burke and the Black Bottom”

  1. aldo zuccala

    I remember seeing Tony Williams Lifetime at the Black Bottom.
    Tony Williams – Drums
    Jack Bruce – Electric Bass
    Larry Young – Hammond B3
    John Mclaughlin – Guitar
    It was just amazing to see this band in a club setting.

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