Barber’s Hall dates back to Philly’s jazz heyday. Mel Melvin’s Orchestra was a jazz-oriented R&B band which featured some of Philly’s best musicians, including the Heath Brothers and John Coltrane. NEA Jazz Master Kenny Barron played with the orchestra when he was a teenager.
The black-owned bar has played host to such legendary musicians as John Coltrane, Robert “Bootsie” Barnes and Grover Washington, Jr. Charlotte Adams — Ms. Charlotte — granddaughter of the original owner, has been serving drinks there for more than 30 years.
New Barber’s Hall is located in the former home of the Quaker City Wheelmen bicycle club. In a piece for Hidden City Philadelphia, GroJLart wrote:
In 1953, a group of four African American barbershop owners formed the National Barber’s Sunshine Club, a trade organization for local barbers, and purchased the building for their headquarters, which was colloquially renamed Barber’s Hall. In addition to hosting the Sunshine Club, the building also became a music venue and event space. Jazz musicians staying at the Chesterfield Hotel next door would often drop by to play at the club between gigs.