Comedy Club Ike Dixon: Baltimore-born, Musician, Bandleader, and Entrepreneur
Born in Baltimore in 1896, Ike Dixon’s dreams brought him to Pennsylvania Avenue, where jazz and the arts took root. Dixon’s favorite instrument was the drums, but he also played the soprano sax and the piano. By the 1920s, he led his own band called Ike Dixon and the Jazz Demons. Duke Ellington claimed in his autobiography, “Music is My Mistress,” that Ike Dixon had the best band in Baltimore.
In 1934, Dixon retired from the road and opened The Comedy Club in the former Savoy Ballroom. The club was the oldest black night club in existence south of the Mason-Dixon Line. A mainstay for both local and national black artists, the club attracted jazz legends such as Della Reese, Dinah Washington, Erroll Garner, and Miles Davis.
“Business was so good that my father used to have matinee shows on Thursday and Sunday. They were always packed. I remember when Sammy Davis, Jr. used to come to the club and ask my father to let him sing. At the time he was only dancing with his father and uncle at the Royal. We used to get plenty of free entertainment that way,” said Dixon.(Baltimore Sun Dec. 29, 1975 interview)
In 1939, Dixon opened the Comedy Club Hotel with ten rooms above the Club. National black celebrities as well as members of the Baltimore Elite Giants and other Negro League Baseball teams’ members stayed at the hotel. Ike Dixon died in 1953.
By the 1960’s, many of the entertainment businesses on Pennsylvania Avenue had closed their doors, including The Comedy Club in 1964.
Courtesy and in memory of Alvin Kirby Brunson, Baltimore historian and founder of the Center for Cultural Education, a nonprofit organization formed to educate people about Baltimore’s African American history and culture. Brunson was an influential member of the committee that created this Trail.