I don't know how many times I heard Rodney the bartender bellow last call at the Childe Harold, but it's more than I care to count. Another Washington Institution is gone, and this one at a relatively young age considering it opened in 1967.
(Man, what is it about 1967 this week?)
Everybody knows that Springsteen and Emmy Lou Harris played there long before they were big wigs; they even named sandwiches for them, but not everybody knows that The Ramones played there as well. And lots of local acts like The Insect Surfers, Razz, The Nurses, Catfish Hodge, and The Bad Brains. (Nobody named a sandwich for them.)
Marshall Keith of The Slickee Boys remembers this:
"Since it was a tiny club, it made it really exciting, because people were packed in and falling all over each other. I saw The Ramones there. There was no punk rock in DC then. They were inspiring. Their stage moves seemed choreographed to me, which at first was disconcerting, but it was so effective that they were great. They (and anything punk) was panned in the Washington Post. It took a few years and Joe Sasfy before favorable punk reviews made their way into the mainstream.
(Marshall Keith/photo by Jim Moon)
The Slickee Boys played there a lot. Our friend Ed Cox played theremin during "love in". He was plugged into Kim Kane's amp, and couldn't hear himself, so he kept unplugging Kim.
There was a turning point in our career at a benefit concert with several bands when we finally "went over" as well as the "rootsy" bands. Urban Verbs played there once, and I couldn't get in because it was packed."
Root Boy Slim and The Sex Change Band was also a frequent performer. Slim would change clothes between sets wearing anything from zoot suits to hippie togs. Sometimes he had strippers with him just in case his show wasn't wild enough on its own which is hard to believe if you ever saw him.
The music ended long ago, unfortunately, and the guy who started it, Bill Heard Jr. is gone as well. So are Rodney and Root Boy Slim. Maybe they are off some place-all having a drink together where there is no last call.
(Rodney- last call circa 1986)