Washington’s political historical past is well-known. Its music scene? Not a lot. That’s why John Davis, a library curator on the University of Maryland, was ecstatic when Don Hamerman gave UMD practically 200 pictures he took between 1978 and 1980 for a now-defunct DC newspaper, the Unicorn Times. The photographs supply an intimate glimpse into our space’s scrappy music scene again then.
Root Boy Slim Followers
1978 | Warner Theatre
These aren’t simply followers—they’re “harmless minds possessed by ‘Root’ glasses”—that’s, in keeping with the image’s tongue-in-cheek caption within the April 1978 version of the Unicorn Occasions. A fixture of the world’s blues-rock scene, Root Boy Slim (a.ok.a. Foster MacKenzie III) and the Intercourse Change Band had an especially devoted native fan base. Hamerman’s pictures, says Davis, “illuminate many individuals and locations that there simply isn’t that a lot documentation of” in any other case.
The Slickee Boys
1978 | Washington Venture for the Arts’ unique G Avenue location
With music names equivalent to “Manganese Android Puppies” and eccentric stage props, the Slickee Boys (bassist Howard Wuelfing is on the left on this photograph, with guitarist Marshall Keith) performed a combination of psychedelic, storage rock, and punk, which was simply rising within the late ’70s. “Bands just like the Slickee Boys and Tru Fax and the Insaniacs had been constructing the very beginnings of DC’s punk scene, which finally grew to become massively influential and common. And it began fairly small proper right here,” says Davis.
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1978 | Resort in downtown DC
Don Hamerman was a budding freelancer out of faculty, with little expertise, when he snapped this portrait of Patti Smith, at what he says might have been the Harrington Resort. How’d he get such intimate entry? “Nicely, this was earlier than the period of publicists who script each interview with the superstar,” explains Hamerman. “It was simply much more relaxed.” Because of this, Davis says, Hamerman’s photograph assortment captures “the type of unpretentiousness and accessibility of rock and roll that was nonetheless there and nonetheless alive.”
Jimmy Carter and Cecil Taylor
1978 | The White Home
“DC’s music scene was actually vibrant, wholesome, and unpretentious,” says Davis. “You had rock and roll and punk, you had folks and bluegrass, you had the start of the go-go scene, and also you had an important R&B and funk scene. It simply had one thing for everybody.” Together with, apparently, Jimmy Carter. On this image, the President had simply hosted a jazz pageant on the White Home garden. Blown away by pianist Cecil Taylor, Carter giddily raced as much as him after the live performance.
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Root Boy Slim
Film Extras From Hair
1978 | Nationwide Mall
When producers for the film Hair wanted to corral a large crowd for a protest scene within the movie, they contrived a plan that might draw 1000’s of individuals to the Mall: They threw a free live performance with Bonnie Raitt. Pictured are two extras who took benefit of the chance.
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1979 | School Park Vacation Inn
“There’s this type of mundane tedium to the lifetime of a musician,” says Davis. “Even for the very profitable ones, they usually wait all day on a bus or in a resort, in all these drab environment, earlier than lastly attending to take the stage at evening.” Certainly, when a Unicorn Occasions author requested Willie Nelson how fame had modified his life, Nelson responded, “I’ve had a band for the reason that early ’60s, and we’ve been staying at Vacation Inns world wide. This room seems identical to the one I had 15 years in the past.”
City Verbs on the East Wing
Pictures courtesy of Don Hamerman assortment of performing arts pictures, Particular Collections in Performing Arts, College of Maryland Libraries.
This text seems within the November 2022 situation of Washingtonian.
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