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Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The Lizard King Really Did Sleep Here


Mark Opsasnick walks this earth part man, part detective, part living encyclopedia of DC centric music. I mean the man is unstoppable in his quest for knowledge of all things that make this "capital rock". I have just lately been waking up and realizing that we have a boatload of good music around here. (I always knew that we had our share, but I thought it was more of a shrimp boat - not the Queen Mary.) But Mark, a DC native, has been and still is working on the chronicles of our musical past for years. His book Capitol Rock covers the clubs and bands from 1951 until 1976-from teen clubs to the Capital Centre- chasing rumors and nailing down facts about DC stories. Did Jimi Hendrix really play with Roy Buchanan? Was Led Zeppelin's first DC gig at a teen club in Wheaton? This is the book with the answers. It stirs up memories of places like the Varsity Grill (whoa that hits home for me)and Strick's-and gives detailed histories of bands like The Cherry People, The Hangmen, and Grin.

(photo by Alan Kresse)

Another undertaking, The Lizard King Was Here, zeros in on Jim Morrison's time spent in Alexandria where he attended high school, and is filled with first hand accounts and extensive information- literary, social and musical- as well as local details. To say that Mark is a meticulous researcher is an understatement. He even mentions the orange bricks of the bookstores Morrison was said to frequent in Georgetown which he traces to a poem Morrison wrote.

The thing is the past is still with us: you can still go to concerts with national local stars like Nils Lofgren, Jack Casady and Jorma Kaukonen. More regional legends such as The Slickee Boys, The Beatnik Flies and Howling Mad (ex- Razz members) will be playing later this month. And now you can read about where they came from or who they grew up seeing right here in our own back yard. (Move over G.W.- let Jimi (and Jim) take over.) You can find the books at Mark's site:
www.capitolrock.com or hit the link at the top of this posting.

P.S. Don't miss The Slickees et al at The Surf Club Dec 28th- a show that just might make it into the next rock book.

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