Since September, Bethesda's Strathmore arts center has been presenting an admirable and ambitious project called the Timeline Concert Series. By February, Strathmore, in conjunction with the Washington Area Music Association and sponsor UBS, will have put on 64 free concerts "that mark, chronologically, important moments in Washington history," says Shelley Brown, the center's vice president of programming. Wednesday night was the Slickee Boys' turn to take the stage on Strathmore's lawn. Intermittent rain shortened the program, but the Slickee spirit prevailed, as it has since the band formed in 1976 and helped spark the domestic punk-rock movement.

The several hundred fans -- the Timeline's largest crowd yet -- rose to their feet as the quintet, which disbanded nearly 15 years ago but reunites now and then, soared through "Gotta Tell Me Why" and "Life of the Party," with Marshall Keith's clean lead guitar riding the roar of Kim Kane's rhythm guitar. Drummer Dan Palenski and bassist Mike Maxwell, visiting from California for the gig, didn't miss a beat on the catchy segue from "Going All the Way" into "Glendora." Lead singer Mark Noone, wearing a leopard fez, was just getting warmed up with the surf-garage classic "When I Go to the Beach" when the rain called a halt.

Keith made his debut as a solo artist to start the night, performing new originals. His neo-psychedelic guitar figures and vocal tone called to mind early Robyn Hitchcock. Keith, always the joker, closed with a singularly dark version of the Partridge Family's bubble gum favorite "I Woke Up in Love This Morning," reinterpreting it, perhaps correctly, as a song sung by a stalker.

Noone's current band, the Rhodes Tavern Troubadours, took the gazebo after Keith; their up-tempo pop, particularly their ode to legendary Baltimore Orioles manager Earl Weaver, turned the lawn in front of the stage into a mosh pit of 4-year-olds.

-- Buzz McClain