DC Scene































The 400

1425 F Street NW

The Alpine Room

312 Kennedy Street NW

The Barksdale Cafeteria

1934 9th Street NW

The Beachcomber

1803 14th Street NW

Benny’s Tavern / Benny’s Rebel Room

829 14th Street NW

Included jazz and rock & roll groups like The Ink Spots and Coasters before the club changed its format.

Blue Mirror

824 14th Street NW

Classy supper club that opened in the late 1940s; the first place where DC group The Cap-Tans (formerly The Buddies) worked and performed often; national performers included the Ink Spots, Nat King Cole, and Louis Armstrong.

Bob White’s Hideaway

Pennsylvania Ave SE (Capitol Hill)

Bob White’s Hideaway

319 Pennsylvania Ave. SE

The Boulevard Grill

1218 U Street NW

The Capital Grill

1228 U Street NW

Carter Barron Amphitheatre

4850 Colorado Ave NW

The Casino Royale Restaurant

800-804 14st Street NW

Performers included Ruth Brown, Roy Hamilton, Sarah Vaughan.

Charles Cafe

Upper 14th Street NW, Columbia Heights

Charlie’s Cafe Lounge

1359 Connecticut Ave NW

Clore’s Restaurant & Cocktail Lounge

1855 7th Street NW

From 1943-1950, replaced that year by Seven-Tee Restaurant.

Club Bali

1901 14th Street (around the corner from U Street)

Club Bengasi

1423-1425 U Street NW

Had ‘impressive roster of jazz and blues acts’; performers included The Ravens; operated from 1943-1963.

Club Caverns / Crystal Caverns / Bohemian Caverns

2001 11th Street NW (11th & U St.)

The Cap-Tans (formerly The Buddies) worked and performed there often. Club was also frequented by many of Washington’s elite at the time who would come to see such musical artists as Cab Calloway and DC native Duke Ellington. In the 1950s, the club’s name was changed to Crystal Caverns and then to Bohemian Caverns. In 1959, promoter Tony Taylor and Angelo Alvino bought the club and transformed it into the premier jazz venue in Washington, D.C. Taylor booked many of the leading jazz musicians of the 1960s including Bill Evans, Miles Davis, Shirley Horn, John Coltrane, Eric Dolphy, Bobby Timmons, Nina Simone, and Charles Mingus. In 1964, Ramsey Lewis recorded the critically and commercially successful album, The Ramsey Lewis Trio at the Bohemian Caverns.

Club Cimmaron

1914 13th Street

Club Kavakos

727 H Street NE

Club Madre

2204 14th Street NW

Short-lived club on outskirts of U. Street; described as “notorious.”

Club Players

486 K Street NW

During the 1950s, one of the club’s “top attractions” was DC’s own Don Covay.

Cotton Club

16th Street and Benning Road NE

The Crosstown Restaurant

3102 Mount Pleasant Street NW

The Crystal Room Nightclub

5200 Foote Street NE

Also known as Barnett’s Cafe (now the Riverside Center, across from Marvin Gaye Park) — the historic site of Marvin Gaye’s professional singing debut.

El Patio / The Patio Lounge

Five O’Clock Club

The Cap-Tans (formerly The Buddies) performed there often.

The Hayloft

1409 H Street NW

DC group The Winstons performed here. Best known for their 1969 hit, “Color Him Father.”

Hollywood Tavern

1940 9th Street NW

Jack Rowe’s Restaurant

913 11th Street SE

One of the many R&B performers was DC’s own Don Covay.

Jimmy McPhail’s Gold Room


Opened in 1959; the club’s live entertainment included a variety of blues and jazz music. Was owned and operated by jazz singer Jimmy McPhail.

The Jungle Inn

1211 U Street NW

Replaced by the Casbah Restaurant; during 1952 to 1957 when the restaurant was named The Marina, one local act that performed was Calvin ‘Hound Dog’ Ruffin & His Band.

The Lotus Restaurant

727 14th Street NW

National artists who performed included Brook Benton and the Will Mastin Trio (which featured Sammy Davis, Jr.).

Masonic Temple Building

Southwest Corner of 10th & U Streets NW

(2 addresses: front door – 1008 U St. NW; side door – 1930 10th St. NW) | 6th floor was used as a nightclub.

Maynard’s Restaurant

1508 14th Street NW

The Melody Inn

1122 Bladensburg Road NE

In 1959, Jimmy McPhail bought the Melody Inn, where he had been performing regularly. From that year into 1997, he operated it as Jimmy McPhail’s Gold Room, featuring many of the best-known names in blues and comedy.

The Merry-Land

L Street near 14th

The Merry-Land opened in 1941. Through the 1940s, it was one of DC’s top jazz clubs featuring Pearl Bailey, Earl “Fatha” Hines, and frequent performances by DC’s own Jimmy McPhail. Billie Holiday also came to hear the entertainment, though it was against the Jim Crow laws of the day.

The Moulin Rouge

407 11th Street NW

The Neptune Room

501 13th Street NW

Located in the basement of The Earle Theatre which became The Warner Theatre in 1947.

The Off Beat Club

1849 7th Street NW

Opened in 1942, lasted 15 years. Bill Harris (Clovers’ guitarist) worked here at one time.

Old Rose Social Club

1848 7th Street NW

Near T Street, was called “an after-hours joint.”

The Oriental Grill & Dining Room

901 R Street NW

Owned by local jazz pianist Louis T. Thomas.

The Ozarks Restaurant

931 10th Street NW

The Penguin Restaurant / Booker T Restaurant

1218 11th Street SE


Hamlin Street NE

PigFoot, a blues and jazz club (owned by Bill Harris, guitarist for The Clovers from 1950-1958), was a showcase not only for Harris, but for other local musicians. Late pianist John Malachi held weekly jazz workshops, and big-name stars used to drop by to unwind in a homey setting.

Rand’s Night Club

1414 Eye Street NW

The Red Robin Restaurant

The Rendezvous

409 10th Street NW

The Republic Gardens

1355 U Street NW

‘Floor shows’ Friday through Sunday from Group Harmony Book.

Rhode Island Plaza

1300 Rhode Island Avenue NE

Included jazz club, The Spotlite Room (formerly The Celebrity Room/Cafe Celebrity) performers included The Clovers, Art Blakey & the Jazz Messengers, Julian “Cannonball” Adderley.

The Rocket Room

1200 New York Avenue NW

The Winstons performed here.

The Shanty

The Showboat Lounge

2477 18th Street NW

The Showboat Lounge boasted performers like The Charlie Byrd Trio and the Shirley Horn Trio.

The Spa

14th & T Street

The Starlite Restaurant

1419 Irving Street NW

Success Café

1357 U Street NW

Warner Theatre

513 13th Street NW

Multi-use 1924–1989, concert venue from 1989 – Downtown – large concert hall.


Felix Grant


Grant was recognized for his distinctive voice, sophisticated style, and personal connection to many of the 20th century’s jazz greats. He was responsible for works connected to Duke Ellington, namely discovering and marking Ellington’s birthplace at 2129 Ward Place, N.W.; renaming Western High School, Duke Ellington High School (now, the Duke Ellington School of the Arts), and for renaming the Calvert Street Bridge the Duke Ellington Bridge in 1974. Later, in 1985, “Felix Grant Day” was proclaimed; also, a music-radio library was named after him at the University of Jamaica.

Jon Massey


Hosted daily “Uptown Special” Monday-Friday 6-10am and Sundays 6am- 12noon on WOOK, 26 hours per week)

Paul Chapman

Unsure of Station

Played The Cap-Tans. The Cap-Tans appeared on the radio show of deejay Paul Chapman, joining him in a rendition of “Coo-Coo Jug-Jug (That’s the Sound of the Birds)”. Chapman was so impressed with the broadcast that he enlisted the group in a recording of the song, backed by his composition “You’ll Always Be My Sweetheart”, which was released on DC Records in June 1949.

Record Stores

David’s Radio & Music Store

1928 14th Street NW

Deanwood Music and Hardware Shop

4802 Deane Ave. NE

Frank’s Radio Laboratory

907 U St. NW

“If it’s been cut we have it.”

Langstow Radio and Record Store

1545 7th Ave. NW and 2403 Benning Rd., NE

Modern Radio & Music Company

407 L St.

Northwest Amusement Company

1003 U St. NW

O’Meally’s Novelty Shop

231 Florida Ave. NW

Record Shop

1112 Colonel Rd. NW

Rip’s Record Center

1545 7th St. NW (Same location as Langstow Radio and Record Store)

Service Music Company

1233 U St. NW and 718 4th St. SW and 1715 1/2 7th St. NW

Soul Mobile Record Store

Super Cut Rate Drugs

  • Opened in 1938 by brothers Irvin Feld and Israel Feld
  • Sold records, expanded into a 10 store chain
  • Opened Super Music and Appliances, H Street NE – 1946
  • Opened Super Music City, F St. downtown – 1948
  • The Feld brothers also owned two record labels during the 1940s: Super Disc, a jazz and blues and Quartet featuring gospel

The Music Box

2131 Georgia Ave. NW

The Platter (Music & Appliance) Company

409 Florida Avenue, NW

University Studio

1839 7th St. NW

Source: p. 112, Stuart L. Goosman, Group Harmony: the Black Urban Roots of Rhythm & Blues 2005

Radio Stations


In 1965, the Sonderling Broadcasting Corporation bought WOL and changed the format from easy listening to rhythm and blues. That year, WOL also became the first rhythm and blues station in Washington to have public affairs programming.

“No other medium in the city had WOL’s influence and credibility among black Washingtonians from 1965 to about 1975…With finger-popping, hand-clapping and foot-stomping, they were the broadcasters of gospel-influenced, inner city culture,” The Washington Post observed. WOL helped popularize “Chocolate City” as a nickname for Washington, according to the Post.

During the 1960s and 1970s, WOL was home to Petey Greene, a former convict turned popular talk show host, comedian, and activist, who began his professional broadcasting career at WOL. His life was an inspiration for the 2007 film, Talk To Me.


Started in 1945. At one point, it was one of only six stations in the city, and Washington’s only 24-hour station. WWDC catered to white audiences during the day but, according to WWDC jazz host Felix Grant, it “became essentially a black station, playing jazz and rhythm and blues and the rest.” Mr. Grant said: “The nighttimes were great.”

Host Jack Lowe (who was white) called WWDC “the first station in Washington to play rhythm & blues on a regular basis.” Lowe hosted a popular show called “WWDC Amateurs” turned “Jackson Lowe’s Amateurs”, which aired every Sunday 12:30pm-1:30pm for eight straight years (c. 1942-1950). Frequent performers included the group that became The Clovers. As a matter of fact, the vocal group met Harold Winley, who would become their bass singer, by participating in the amateur show.