Still a Tale of Two Towns
Ronnie Sherrill saunters up to the microphone. He’s Satin Wave’s proprietor, style deacon and local icon. In good spirits, he’s set the tone all night. To introduce his delivery of Satin Wave’s roots, soul music beat moderate ambiance from a classic juke box. You can ask just about anyone from the baby boomer generation and older from the Black community about Satin Wave and they will tell you that hands down Satin Wave was the place to get your do done right.
Satin Wave’s lineage began in the 1950’s with Colonial Barbershop on 6th and Walnut. These days it may be referred to as Hillside, but then it was Bronzeville. Barbershops, taverns, chicken shacks and a hotel were thriving businesses and gathering spots for culturally proclivities. A thriving area, to set a gauge for the importance of Walnut Street to the cultural landscape in Milwaukee, the doo-wop quartet The Esquires formed in and frequented Bronzeville. By 1967, they gained enough notoriety to release the song Get on Up nationally. The record went Gold and nearly cracked the Billboard top ten. As local lore recounts the band never received any royalties for the song.
Ending Bronzeville’s heyday, beginning in the late 1962, the Department of Transportation claimed much of the neighborhood as right of way for Interstate 43. Today on the corner of Sixth and Walnut, the complex that once held a Black owned hotel and shopping area now houses the Salvation Army Emergency Shelter and a Department of Corrections Probation and Parole office, respectively.
Pt. 1 Shaping Influence, ExFabula, Barbershop
Pt. 2 ExFabula, John Gurda on Capital Court History
Pt. 3 ExFabula, The Sherrill’s, A Black Business Legacy
Pt. 4 ExFabula, Sunshine and Rain<
Pt. 5 ExFabula, Tom Crawford, a Thankful Trim
Pt. 6 ExFabula, Monumental Integrity and Murals