A Condensed History of the Rock Creek Band

      The Rock Creek Band was a bar band that performed in the greater Washington D.C. metro area during the late 70's and early 80's. It was formed without a whole lot of thought or organization, and started out with kind of a loose southern California sound and feel. After a couple of early personel shifts that resulted in a band made up exclusively of dead heads, it evolved into a Grateful Dead emulation band that, on a good night, nailed the free form, improvisational, folk, country, blues, rock, psychedelia blend that pretty much resulted in a party breaking out every time they performed.

      As word of the band spread through the local dead community, the band's popularity, and subsequent booking schedule, increased steadily. Eventually the performance schedule got to be more than the members could reasonably sustain. Rather than turn down bookings, they attempted to keep up with a schedule that finally burned them out, and the band broke up.

Original Members
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Far Inn, New Year's Eve, 1981
(from left)
name     band position     dead counterpart
Donn     bass, vocals     Phil
Bob     guitar, vocals     instr:   Bob,   vocals: Jerry
Terry     vocals     Donna Jean
Charles     drums, vocals     instr:   Bill,   vocals: Bob
Rick     guitar, vocals     instr:   Jerry,   vocals: Bob, Pigpen
Eric     keyboard     Keith

Post Rock Creek History As Far As We Know

      Donn was the first of the first of the original members to come to his senses and bail out. He pretty much dropped out of performing musically, and went on to a successful career in, and early retirement from, the burgeoning high tech, digital information age.

      After Donn's departure, the band experienced a series of creative and financial disagreements with Charles, who was the only full time musician in the group. Unfortunately the differences were not sucessfully mediated, and Charles and the band parted ways somewhat acrimoniously. Fortunately the hard feelings didn't last, and I personally had the pleasure of working with Charles in a couple of different bands during the middle 80's, at which time he left the metro D.C. area for the fertile musical atmosphere of southern California. During the last few years he has returned to the D.C., northern Virginia area, and continues to be quite active in the local music community.

      After the loss of Donn and Charles, the band slogged on for about another year as a mostly country band, under the name Last Call, at which time Rick, that's me - the old web master, called it quits. I navigated the remainder of the 80's, 90's, and the initial couple of years of the new millennium, bouncing around in a number of oldies, country, classic rock, and top 40 bands.

      Sometime near my departure from the band, Terry also gave up the musical ghost, and parted ways with the members. Unlike the rest of the crew, she neglected to keep in touch with anybody we know, and we haven't got the faintest idea where she went, what she's done, where she is, or what she's up to. If anyone out there in cyberspace knows how to contact her, please let us know - it'd be way cool to touch bases with her again.

      Rick and Terry were both replaced, and Last Call continued on as a reasonably successful hard core country band for a while. The 80's were definitely hard core country times in the D.C. area. Remember line dancing, not to mention John Travolta and the mechanical bull, from the movie Urban Cowboy?

      When Last Call finally folded, Eric and Bob continued to form, and perform with, a number of variety / top 40, bands, until Bob pretty much gave up playing completely sometime in the 90's. Eric continued to form and perform with a number of variety / lounge / top 40 / wedding bands.

And The Long Strange Trip Resumes ...

      As it happened, in the fall of '92, the bands that Eric and Rick were working with, were each going through one of those periodic restructurings that seem to be indigenous to bar bands, when Bob called Eric and said "Let's put Rock Creek back together." Eric called me and said "Whaddaya think?", and I said "Let's talk about it."

      We got together, did some talkin', did a little playin', and said "Aw hell, let's give it a shot". I managed to track down everyone except Terry. Charles was completely occupied with his own musical scene, and Donn thought about it, and decided against it (I've always suspected he was wiser than the rest of us).

      We threw material together as fast as we could (consistent with each of us having a, y'know, real life to deal with too), and simultaneously started looking for a drummer and bass player. By the end of the year we'd found a drummer, a fella called Doc, who was not a deadhead, but who was a reliable, sane, guy, and a fine musician to boot.

      We kicked off '93 with a string of Legion gigs, with Eric playing the bass lines on his keyboard, while we continued looking for a bass player. The first guy we found was a young man named Justin, a rabid deadhead, with a playing style that was a surgical glove fit to what we were looking for. About the time that we had integrated him into the band to the point of being ready to start looking for regular bar jobs, his wife took a job out of state, and they relocated.

      We did another search for a bass player, and found Lukas, another young fella, with a jazz background, who was familiar with, and enthusiastic about, the Dead material and improvisational style, and in May '93 started playing wherever we could as a Dead tribute band. On the side, Eric and Doc continued to work Legion gigs, and I did occassional fill in work with a number of different bands. During the summer of '93, Bob, Lukas, and myself started working on putting together an acoustic group, whenever we could find the time.

      In February of '94, Doc decided he'd had enough of the Dead band thing, and said he'd cover whatever we needed until we could find a replacement drummer. We were pretty picky about it, and it took us until April to find Steve, a fine drummer, and a long time dead fan. Once again we had a band made up exclusively of deadheads.

      Steve fit like a glove and we sounded really good. By summer, Lukas began to have a number of personal commitments that required us to use a substitute bass player. We found a fellow name of Fido, who, although not a dead head, was none the less a superb musician, and an excellent harmony vocalist. He was eventually offered the regular bass spot when we got to where we couldn't make any kind of regular contact with Lukas, and although he was willing to consider it, he got a better offer from a commercial country band that had guaranteed work and steady pay. Once again we were without a bass player, but it didn't seem to matter much because our bookings dried up for about 10 months.

      Eric managed to find us 4 bookings for the summer of 95, and we used the bass player from Steve's other band (who is also named Steve). The two of them are the best jam band rhythm section I've ever worked with, and once again we started sounding really good. In the middle of the scheduled gigs, however, Bob announced that he wasn't having fun anymore, and he was quitting the electric band, but he planned on continuing with the acoustic side project.


To be continued ...