February 3, 1946: Max Kaminsky Opens Maxie’s
Trumpeter Max Kaminsky opened his nightclub Maxie’s on Huntington Ave on February 3, only to close it two weeks later.
Max Kaminsky, born in Brockton and raised in Dorchester, was 16 when he started gigging with Artie Karle, and 18 when he met Bix Biederbecke. He worshipped Louis Armstrong. He’d been on the 1936 Tommy Dorsey band and the 1937-38 Artie Shaw band, but he was best known as a Chicago-school hot player, a regular at Nick’s in Greenwich Village, and one of Eddie Condon’s merry men.
In October 1945, Kaminsky and Pee Wee Russell commenced a four-month gig at the Copley Terrace nightclub in Boston, near the corner of Huntington and Stuart—an intersection that hasn’t existed for years. The rest of the group consisted of trombonist Brad Gowans, drummer Buzzy Drootin, pianist Teddy Roy, and bassist John Field. When the Copley Terrace job ended, Kaminsky moved down Huntington to Mass Ave, and opened Maxie’s at 220 Huntington, in the basement of the Minerva Hotel. Albert “Sparky” Tomasetti replaced Gowans, but the rest of the band came along with him.
It was doomed from the start. Max was on a tight budget, and he had no friends at City Hall to help with necessities like the liquor license. He averaged about 100 paid admissions per night, but it wasn’t nearly enough, and after two weeks, a flat-broke Kaminsky shut the door for the last time. Recalled one fan who went there: “At the end of each set, musicians and customers alike would emerge from Maxie’s and go down the block to the Blue Moon, where they would inhale enough sauce to get them through the next set. Then, back to Maxie’s for more music. It was an obvious prescription for bankruptcy. It lasted two weeks.”
Kaminsky admitted the venture was a disaster, but said: “if I had it to do over again, I would. Man, that was some band.”
Here’s that gang from the Copley Terrace doing the McHugh and Fields standard, “Exactly Like You.” I have no idea why Bunny Berigan’s picture is here. Take my word for it: Max is on trumpet.