The Myspace site for the Surf Club (aka the Surf Club Live and previously Chick Hall’s Surf Club) now plays Bob Dylan’s “The Times They Are a Changin,” but perhaps it would make more sense to play something in Spanish. Concerned about small turnouts for the blues-rock, country, and other roots styles he has been getting, owner James Byrum has decided to reach out to the current local demographic and will now be featuring a dj spinning ranchera, bachata and other Spanish language sounds. Byrum informed folks on a local listserv that “the summer is always a tough draw and now is a good time to experiment with bringing a more consistent source of revenue to the club. There may still be shows in the future. But I am taking the summer to try new things.”
At least the club still exists. In 2007, it appeared that the rectangular cinder block and brick roadhouse would be sold and knocked down. This honky-tonk bastion has been located at 4711 Kenilworth Avenue in Hyattsville since 1975, and previously was on Bladensburg Road in Colmar Manor from 1955 to 1975. But Byrum acquired the place and has been booking local Americana acts and zydeco dances. While the latter draw a dedicated 40-something and up crowd, they do not drink much. Meanwhile, the audiences have not grown for DC roots-rock, alt-country, blues, and blues-rock bands. Compounding things, the club is not located near a Metro station, has been unable to get much media or internet attention for the groups booked, and its older hard drinking blue-collar regulars have moved away. On July 4th Byrum experimented with a teen reggaeton event featuring Spanish language acts from NY, Boston, and DC, but he says he has no plans to start booking more well-known Latin acts. He is staying local for now.