REDKEY, Indiana (Indiana's NewsCenter)--Times are tough all over and they’ve been tough for some time in Redkey Indiana. But when the folks in Redkey feel like singing the blues, at least they have a place to do it in. Welcome to the legendary Key Palace Theatre, probably the only spot in Redkey the rest of the world has head of. For 25 years this little hole in the wall has hosted the world’s greatest blues musicians; Albert Washington, Carl Weathersby, Robert Lockwood, Junior and the Leon’s…Redbone and Russell…all enticed to this corner of Your Country by the late, great Charlie Noble.
“You either loved him or you hated him,” says his sister, Regina Williamson. “And that’s the way he wanted it and he tried to sometimes be like a big bear but he really deep down wasn’t, very giving person.”
Charlie Noble was born in Muncie but fled to Chicago as a young man for a career on the state. And though stardom eluded him Charlie did discover his true passion in the smoke-filled music dives of the Windy City; a life-long love of rhythm and blues. He went back to Indiana, bought a crumbling movie house in Redkey for a thousand bucks and the Key Palace Theatre was born.
“The acoustics was wonderful,” says Regina Williamson, “and he had several bands would come and record live their music from this theatre because of the acoustic sound.”
Charlie decorated every square inch of the place himself with thousands of photos and posters shellacked to the walls and ceilings..hand painted murals of the blues greats. But these days the Key Palace is itself singing the blues. Charlie died in 2010 leaving lots of loose ends and unpaid bills. His family stepped in to keep the place running but things look bleak. The place is closed for the summer now but Charlie’s family is determined to give it one more shot when they reopen in September.
“We’ll get the best shows in that we can and pray the weather will be good,” Regina says, “and I think we’ll make it another season. And as a family we just would like to keep it going as long as we can.”
Eric Olson reporting, out in ‘Your Country’.
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