|Atlanta Folk Music Club, 1102 West Peachtree St. NW|
tarted in 1965 as an Italian restaurant by Bill Remington and Tom Hayward, The Bistro soon discovered that the “folk singers” drew considerably more customers than the food.
“We yanked anyone in (off the streets) that could play more than three chords on a guitar” Hayward remembers. “Then we discovered gold by booking Ray Whitley” (a local songwriter who had composed “Run, Run, Look And See” for Brian Hyland, then four or five smash hits for the Tams including: “I’ve Been Hurt”, “You Lied To Your Daddy” and “Be Young, Be Foolish, Be Happy”.)
After buying out Bill Remington in 1967, Hayward set about making the sound system “state of the art” for that era. Entertainers loved the room because it was run like a theater with excessive talking being discouraged.
In 1968, the Bistro participated in local television Channel 11 changing their call letters to WQXI-TV by presenting a “live” 3-1/2 hour music and comedy special entitled: “Atlanta Swings-68’. The Bistro supplied several local musical artists plus TV star Pat Paulsen from the “Smothers Brothers Show”.
That same year an Augusta Georgia Bistro was franchised to Jim Duffy and Dave Partain. Using the circuit performers already being booked by Hayward into The Raven Gallery in Detroit, The Flick in Miami and The Red Horse Inn in Louisiana.
By the middle of 1969, one of the Bistro’s close friends, Bill “Oliver” Swofford had a #1 hit with “Good Morning Starshine” a song from “Hair” by Rado, Ragne and McDerrmott. Out of kindness and personal friendship, Bill asked to appear at the Bistro for a full week and created lines of more than a hundred people around the block. “It was the first time we ever had to suggest that people leave so others could get in to see the next show.”
Over the next five years the Bistro was extremely fortunate to start many musicians on their way to stardom and host already famous artists looking for attentive audiences.
Rumors persisted over the years about the upstairs of the club being haunted by a spirit affectionately named “Rachael”. Whether the late night noises were caused by pigeons in the attic or genuine poltergeists, many artists refused to sleep on premises and at least one seance was held by John D. Loudermilk (composer of Tobacco Road).
You are listening to "The Bistro" - music and lyrics by Reuben Morgan
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