Thursday, January 3, 2013

Rockin' DC: Rubbin' Sticks 'n' Stones Together

I have made Washington, DC my home for over 18 years, having decided one fateful, fitful night that I'd had just about as much of New Jersey as one man could stomach, and within three months I was gone baby gone. They all laughed and said I wouldn't do it, but they were WRONG! (They're all still laughing now, but for different reasons.) The verdict: I like it here. A lot. It isn't Manhattan, which is both a plus and a minus, and it's downright beautiful in places, especially in the spring. I know my way around pretty expertly and it's a great walking city. And for all its faults, it's a great town for live music.

DC has a great if small musical history: it's the home of Go-Go master Chuck Brown (and the Searchers), it played a little-known but substantial role in the growth of modern bluegrass, and its punk scene during the 80s rivaled those of New York and L.A.  Its legendary clubs include the Bayou, the Black Cat, the Birchmere, the 9:30 Club, and the Tex-Mex Grille (that last one is nowhere near legendary but it was my main gig for a few years, so it counts).  But perhaps DC's most notorious historical claim is as the home of one of the stupidest, cheesiest and most ear-worming hits of the 1970s: Starland Vocal Band's "Afternoon Delight".

The story goes like this: the Starland band members were friends and performers living in the DC area and based the song on either a menu item or the name of a happy hour at a bar called Clyde's in Georgetown. (You can read more about it at the website of the band's leader and songwriter, Bill Danoff.) Clyde's is still in business -- the food is terrible, but you can see copies of the gold record of the single hanging on the wall.

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