Fifty years ago, Ramsey Lewis’ album The In Crowd was recorded live at the Bohemian Caverns nightclub in Washington DC. I went to the Bohemian Caverns two or three times in early 1968, just months before it closed in September of that year.
The place was located at 11th Street and U Street NW, which was known for many years as the “Black Broadway.” The neighborhood began to decline following the April ’68 assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. The intersection of 14th Street and U Street was, in fact, the epicenter of violence and destruction during the riots. As blighted as it became, I still remember walking through that old Victorian neighborhood at night (even after the riots), dressed in a suit, oblivious of my safety. But it was a different time then.
The album provided Lewis with his biggest hit reaching the top position on the Billboard R&B Chart and No. 2 on their top 200 albums chart in 1965. The single, “The ‘In’ Crowd” reached No. 2 on the R&B Chart and No. 5 on the Hot 100 singles chart in the same year. The album also received a Grammy Award in 1966 for Best Instrumental Jazz Performance by an Individual or Group. The single was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame Award in 2009.
Groove of the Day
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