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'The Bayou' Documents Legendary Georgetown Nightclub

WASHINGTON (WJZ)—If you live in Maryland, D.C. or Virginia you're probably familiar with The Bayou. In its heyday the Georgetown nightclub hosted the likes of Billy Joel, U2, Kiss and Eddie Murphy.

Ron Matz reports on a just released documentary that's a must see for many in this area.

Fourteen years in the making, "The Bayou" is a 90-minute documentary about the legendary Georgetown nightclub, which closed in 1998.

"The Bayou was a mid-Atlantic icon," said Dave Lilling, executive producer. "People came from the Tri-State area, Washington, Baltimore and Virginia. Everybody went to The Bayou. It was a rite of passage if you were interested in music. If you were interested in meeting women and men, you went to The Bayou. "

"It was just an exciting place to go because you could go to D.C. and hear live music and have fun," Lilling explained.

From Billy Joel to Kiss, Bruce and U2, they performed at The Bayou.

"Dave Matthews played The Bayou as a house band. U2's second show in the United States was at The Bayou. It just goes on and on. Some groups were on the way up, others were on the way down, but they all came to play The Bayou," Lilling said.

Local bands performed, too.

"I think the local bands tied everybody together. Because my dad believed in having local entertainment, these groups would play there two, three, four months at a time," said Mike Tramonte, former general manager.

Tramonte's family owned the club for nearly three decades.

"You can speak with people of four different generations and somewhere along the line they came through The Bayou. That's really an extraordinary run," Tramonte said.

That extraordinary run started in 1953 as Dixieland Jazz Place.

"It's an incredible legacy," Tramonte said "There was always local entertainment, but they had the likes of Count Bassie and Woody Herman and The Herd."

Dozens of people were interviewed for the film. Others donated videos and memorabilia....

"We talked to employees. We talked to patrons. We talked to band members. Pretty soon we had this colorful tapestry of stories and events that went on there," said Vinnie Perrone, co-writer and producer.

"There were the stories off stage that gave this inanimate object a heart and a soul and a personality," he continued. "We depict some of them in the documentary. Why did Mickey Mantle get thrown out of the club and Robert Plant as well?"

The soul of a neighborhood and memories of a generation are captured on film.

"The documentary was 14 years in the making.  I have to give credit to my partners Bill Scanlan, Vinnie Perrone and Dave Nuttycombe. This was a team effort. Also people who donated films, videos and knick-knacks. They made the film special," Lilling said.

The Bayou closed after the New Year's Eve performance in 1998.It's estimated at least five million people came through the club's doors in its 45-year history.

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