Rondo ’56

Remembering St. Paul’s Black main street

Corner stores, meat markets, pharmacies, union halls, garages, tailor shops, shoe shines, beauty parlors, barbershops, taverns and BBQ joints… Rondo Avenue was the main street of St. Paul’s Black community and the backbone of a neighborhood that extended from Lexington to the Cathedral, from Marshall to University, with its midsection at about where the Dale Street exit off I-94 is now.

Rondo ’56 mixes oral history and old photographs with postwar R&B and gospel to evoke the Rondo neighborhood of St. Paul before the freeway, a celebration of community resilience in the early days of the civil rights movement.


photo: (likely: Percy Hughes conductor, Judy Perkins vocalist) Treasure Inn, Larpenteur Ave. and Rice St., early 1950s

The first version of Rondo ’56 was commissioned by the MN Historical Society and presented in their 3M Auditorium in the fall of 2010. Subsequent performances: St. Joan of Arc Catholic Community for the MLK Holidays of 2011 and 2014, and at White Bear Unitarian Universalist church in January 2014.

In September 2021 Crooners Supper Club in Fridley presented a revised version of Rondo ’56, updated in collaboration with co-hosts Charmin Michelle, Thomasina Petrus and T Mychael Rambo. With Walter Chancellor and Scott Johnson on saxophones, Daryl Boudreaux on percussion and Bill Chouinard on bass.

Past performers:

  • Singers: Yolande Bruce, Bruce Henry, Cynthia Johnson, George Faber, Thomasina Petrus, T Mychael Rambo
  • Guitars: Dirk Freymuth, Pat Donohue, Deevo McCray, Jack Johnston
  • Bass: Gary Raynor, Jeff Bailey
  • Drums: Peter Johnson, Kevin Washington; percussion: Daryl Boudreaux
  • Horns: Dave Jensen, trumpet; Kathy Jensen, saxophone
  • Mr. Eddie Ballard, Rondo elder and singer
  • Mrs. Dorothea Burns, Rondo elder

Contact Dan to discuss Rondo ’56

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