WETA, the public television network serving greater Washington, D.C., will broadcast the award-winning documentary The Bayou: DC’s Killer Joint beginning Monday, Sept. 16, at 10 p.m.
The 90-minute film, which chronicles the legendary life and times of The Bayou music club in lower Georgetown, has played to smash reviews in the region and beyond. The Bayou: DC’s Killer Joint attracted more than 72,000 viewers with its debut telecast on Maryland Public Television in February, making it one of the best-watched locally produced features the past decade. And last month, the film was judged outstanding music documentary at the Kingston (N.Y.) Film Festival.
From 1953 to 1999, The Bayou electrified the D.C. music scene with a dazzling array of heavyweight jazz and rock-and-roll performers, undiscovered stars, local heroes, audacious characters, show-time pranks and offstage follies.
Jazz icons Count Basie, Woody Herman and Buddy Rich livened the place, though none more so than Wild Bill Whelan: The impish house cornetist cued the rollicking tone that would define The Bayou’s 45-year existence.
Foreigner made its club debut there, the band so green its road manager had to mark the way from dressing room to stage. An obscure Irish foursome, U2, opened for local punkers The Slickee Boys. Billy Joel recorded live cuts for his LP Songs in the Attic there. Bruce Springsteen, unannounced, showed up to jam during a Robbin Thompson gig. Beloved chanteuse Eva Cassidy, near to dying young, made her final performance there.
Across the nation, programming executives are lauding the picture: Some 70 public-broadcasting markets from Maine to Phoenix and Tampa to Sacramento have aired or scheduled it.
After the 10 p.m. airing on Monday the 16th, WETA will broadcast the film again on Tuesday, Sept. 17, at 8 a.m. and 4 p.m.; Wednesday, Sept. 18, at 2:30 a.m. and Sunday, Sept. 22, at 3 a.m.
Director Dave Lilling and three other D.C.-area journalists began shooting the club’s final performances and conducting interviews late in 1998, and the filmmaking seeds germinated. Lilling, the picture’s Emmy Award-winning executive producer, enlisted as writers and co-producers Bill Scanlan, a radio personality-turned-CSPAN studio host, and Vinnie Perrone and Dave Nuttycombe, each an accomplished journalist. Dick Bangham of Rip Bang Pictures did the graphics, Skip Sorelle of MPSE the sound mix and Bill Parks of Dominion Post the editing, assisted by Adam Bonsib.
Why were Mickey Mantle and Robert Plant kicked out of the place? What exactly went on beneath The Bayou stage, even during performances? Why did Star Wars creator George Lucas target club lighting director Tim Pace? Tune in and see.
For more information, contact Lilling at (301) 608-9077.