Chuck Brown

[godfather of Go-Go]

I was trying to create a sound for this town," Chuck Brown explains, "something that would catch on with everybody." It worked. Go-go, a drum-heavy style of rhythm and blues, is Washington's only native pop genre. At 66, Brown no longer can keep up with the seven-gig-a-week pace he set in the early '70s, when go-go was born, but he hasn't exactly retired; these days he performs about 10 times a month. "We now play 90 minutes straight, and take a break," he says of his shows, "then we come back for 90 minutes more."

Placido Domingo

[Opera singer, artistic director]

During his six years as artistic director of the Washington Opera, Placido Domingo has brought to life raved-about productions of "Pagliacci," "Le Cid," "Fedora," "La Rondine," "Elektra" and "Parsifal"--to name a few--and lifted the company to international prominence, setting ticket and subscription records along the way. But the 61-year-old Spanish-born tenor--one of contemporary opera's most lauded performers--doesn't spend much leisure time in D.C. Still, even a jet-setter must eat, and over the years, Domingo has fallen hard for the city's wide array of Italian food. His favorite restaurant? "Everybody knows it's Cafe Milano," he says. "They have a room there named after me."

Jay Nedry

[dino-rock club owner]

Rock-and-roll will never die. Instead, it will head to Jaxx in Springfield for a couple of Pabsts, a two-hour concert and a very sweaty encore. Fifty-two-year-old Jay Nedry (shown here with girlfriend and personnel manager Kim Cochco) has made Jaxx the venue for acts that peaked decades ago--Southern rockers like Molly Hatchet, and hair acts like Poison and Dokken. "People ask, 'Why would you book a tired old act like Eric Burdon?' " Nedry says of the former lead singer of the Animals. "I say, 'Obviously, you have never seen Eric Burdon.' "

Joe Lee

[record store owner]

In junior high school, Joe Lee spent an education-wrecking amount of time in a Silver Spring department store called Greens. "They'd get old jukebox singles and sell them for 15 cents, and I'd go wild in there," says Lee, 55. Didn't do much for his grades. When it came time to choose a career, reselling music seemed like his only option. Today, 28 years after it opened, Joe's Record Paradise is a Rockville landmark, one of the rare, slightly eccentric holdouts against the chain megastore onslaught.

Charlotte

[alt-metal rock band]

Of the dozens of local garage bands, few have ever struck it as big or as fast as Good Charlotte. Formed in Waldorf and led by 23-year-old twins Joel (left) and Benji Madden (center right), and also featuring Billy Martin and Paul Thomas, the band scored an alt- rock hit single on its first try with "Little Things" and recently released a second album on Epic. "Ever since we were young, our mom told us to do something we love," says Benji, "and we definitely love this."

Quix*o*tic

[Indie rock band]

They don't call it "underground" for nothing. A huge swath of Washington's music scene turns out albums that deep-pockets radio and big-box retailers, like Best Buy and Wal-Mart, don't care about and won't touch. In this thriving subculture, bands like Quix*o*tic are proving that D.C. indie rock is constantly and creatively evolving. On "Mortal Mirror," released earlier this year, sisters Mira (left) and Christina Billotte (center) and Mick Barr make playful, harmony-rich garage rock with grateful nods to artists as diverse as Black Sabbath and Aaron Neville.

Billy Taylor

[jazz pianist]

Washington in the 1930s was the ideal hothouse for an aspiring jazz pianist, according to Billy Taylor, whose career has ranged from mambo to bebop since he began recording in 1945. "Every week there was a new vaudeville show at the Howard Theater," says Taylor, now 81 and living in Riverdale, N.Y. "Count Basie, Duke Ellington, they all came. And the shows were 35 cents." Half a century later, he designs the jazz music programming at the Kennedy Center.

Bobby Parker

[blues guitarist]

I started modern urban blues in Washington," says Bobby Parker, emphatically. Forty-two years later, the onetime guitarist for Bo Diddley and Fats Domino is still an urban blues force at local clubs, and his voice remains a scratchy, James Brown howl. Among the fans he's accumulated over the decades: John Lennon, who acknowledged bumming a riff from a Parker tune for "Day Tripper."

Seth Hurwitz & Rich Henecke

[Club owners]

This partnership has novel origins: Rich Heinecke served as a substitute teacher in a class attended by Seth Hurwitz at Churchill High School in Potomac. When Hurwitz (right) graduated and began to shove, wheel and deal his way into the concert promotion business, Heinecke bankrolled the ventures, beginning with a punk show at the Ontario Theater in 1980. Today, Hurwitz, 44, and Heinecke, 54, own and manage one of the most popular live music venues in the country--the 9:30 club, where more than 190,000 fans last year paid to see the best in non-arena rock. "Everyone thinks you can franchise the 9:30 idea and take it global, but it's not a formula," says Hurwitz. "It's a weird amalgamation of characters and misfits."

Laurie Doton

[boy band fan]

It's waning now, but teen pop has been music's most profitable force for years, and a couple of million young ladies like Laurie Doton, a 17-year-old honor roll student at West Springfield High School, gave this billion-dollar steamroller its momentum. A staunch Backstreet Boys partisan, Laurie first heard the quintet as a seventh-grader. "It just sort of snowballed into this obsession," she says with a laugh. "Everyone sort of accepts it about me."