The Bayou remembered: On PBS and live onstage in 'Last Call'

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Entertainment,Music,Marie Gullard

A teen's memory of D.C.'s famed nightclub the Bayou, "The Home of Dixieland Jazz and Rock n' Roll," is all but a nonexistent one. What they've heard of the venue's glory days, they've heard from parents and other adults who frequented the club from its opening in 1953 to its last days in 1999. In all these years, the Bayou was the setting for the finest entertainers of the day, performing to audiences from the District and beyond.

In the early days, the club hosted the top names in Dixieland jazz with such illustrious performers as Woody Herman, Buddy Rich and the great Count Basie.

Moving with the times, the Bayou welcomed in the rock 'n' roll era with acts that included U2, Kiss, Roy Orbison and Billy Joel. Local entertainment, as well, came out in droves.

"The place touched a lot of live and a lot of people in a good way," said Mike Tramonte of his father's club. "You can talk to grandparents and kids ... you've had at least three or four generations in there somewhere along the line."

Onstage
The Bayou presents "Last Call"
Where: The Hamilton, 600 14th St. NW
When: 7:30 p.m. Sunday
Info: $22.50; 202-787-1000; thehamiltondc.com

So much for the past. On Feb. 25, Maryland Public Television will broadcast "The Bayou: DC's Killer Joint," a 90-minute documentary that chronicles the club's rich and colorful history. By way of a "cast party," the past repeats itself Sunday night in "Last Call," with many original band members performing live on the stage of the Hamilton, a club fast on the heels of the Bayou's best musical traditions.

The Hamilton invites audiences to spend the evening with the likes of the Cherry People, Cherry Smash, the Nighthawks, Sinbad and the Paul Reed Band, to name a few. John Eaton, one of the District's most famous jazz pianists, opens the show.

Tramonte is quick to point out that this show -- a benefit performance for Metro Teleproductions, the nonprofit production company behind the documentary -- is not a jam, but rather a tribute to the Bayou by musicians coming from all over the country to be a part of the celebration. Two long sets are broken by an intermission where a 20-minute film of the documentary's bloopers and outtakes will be shown.

"It will be one big reunion," Tramonte noted. "The show could go on to midnight."

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Marie Gullard

Special to The Washington Examiner
The Washington Examiner