The era before television (and what became known as “rock and roll”) was a time when live performers thrived, when intimate rooms with pianists, bassists, drummers, and vocalists predominated, and when the thing to do was to drop in to any of several dozen night clubs to nurse a drink while you heard talented live music performed. Indeed, this was a period when a restauranteur could not hope to have a room succeed unless the proper live talent was included in its billing. A cross-over impact was also often had, since many of these talented musicians also had dual exposure on live radio shows and record albums; which, prior to the advent of television in the early fifties, were then the predominating media by which musical performers reached their audience.
That era has, sadly, long since passed; only a few cabaret nightspots exist in New York City today, with a much smaller, though still highly talented, group of performers. Events such as The Mabel Mercer Foundation’s annual Cabaret Conventions, initially under the stewardship of Donald Smith and now ably shepherded by KT Sullivan, have continued to provide exposure to talented artists and to spotlight cabaret as an unique art form. And we hope, with the creation of The Cy Walter Foundation, to positively contribute to this milieu by showcasing such talented artists performing Cy’s music. However, what is largely lacking now, in contrast to the early to mid-Twentieth Century, is a vibrant audience with multiple, affordable venues in which the music can be heard. Such was the norm in Cy Walter’s time, and the materials included here chronicle just what a magical scene it was.