Sponsored Project

The Life and Times of DC's Killer Joint

Dave Lilling
Bill Scanlan

Metro Teleproductions Inc. is close to final edit on a full-length documentary that tells the far-reaching tale of The Bayou, a legendary Washington, D.C., musical hall. From 1953 to 1998, The Bayou thrived as a musical landmark that transcended genres and eras in the shadows of the gritty Georgetown waterfront. The documentary, tentatively titled The Bayou: D.C.'s Killer Joint, chronicles the club's unlikely rise, changing faces, jaunty anecdotes, gaudy on- and off-stage high jinks and mystical allure. The 13-year project culls nearly 100 hours of interviews with prominent performers, impresarios, employees and patrons, and exclusive musical footage in a playful, poignant and revealing homage to a musical icon.It is a classic American tale fully told. After a 1951 gangland slaying at the property, then an after-hours club, a chance meeting prompted three local businessmen to buy and revive the moribund venue, theretofore known as The Hideaway. Dubbed The Bayou and re-packaged as a swingin', scarcely polished Dixieland jazz club, the cavernous hall lured the likes of John and Teddy Kennedy, LBJ, Bob Dole and scores of other luminaries.An air of legitimacy, and anything-goes antics, filled the smoky room. Soon jazz icons Count Basie, Buddy Rich and Woody Herman performed; later, house staples Wild Bill Whelan, with all his impishness, and Joe Rinaldi.In the mid-1960s, the British pop wave engulfing the states, The Bayou daringly incorporated the new sound and later served as a national launching pad for relative unknowns -- Kiss, Dire Straits, Foreigner, U2 - while continuing to develop local bands and engage in brassy high-jinks. Maryland Public Television has committed to air the film.