Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Chuck Brown & Washington, D.C's Go Go Music

Edited by Azizi Powell

This post provides information about & five videos of African American "go go music".

Special thanks to guitarist & singer Chuck Brown (August 22, 1936 – May 16, 2012 ) who was the undisputed creator of Go Go music. RIP Chuck Brown. Also, special thanks and RIP to trumpeter Lil Benny [d. May 30, 2010] who was one of the founders of go go music. My thanks also to the other musicians and vocalists (including the audiences) who are featured in the performances that are highlighted in these selectedvideos.

The content of this post is presented for historical, educational, entertainment, and aesthetic purposes. The copyrights remain with their owners.


Go-go is a subgenre associated with funk that originated in the Washington, D.C., area during the mid- 1960s to late-1970s. It remains primarily popular in the area as a uniquely regional music style. A great number of bands contributed to the early evolution of the genre, but The Young Senators, Black Heat, and notably singer-guitarist Chuck Brown and The Soul Searchers are credited with having developed most of the hallmarks of the style.

Inspired by artists such as the groups formerly mentioned and Chuck Brown, Go-go is a blend of funk, rhythm and blues, and early hip-hop, with a focus on lo-fi percussion instruments and funk-style jamming in place of dance tracks, although some sampling is used. As such, it is primarily a dance hall music with an emphasis on live audience call and response. Go-go rhythms are also incorporated into street percussion.

Known as the “Godfather of Go-Go,” the performer, singer, guitarist and songwriter [Chuck Brown] developed his commanding brand of funk in the mid-1970s to compete with the dominance of disco.

Like a DJ blending records, Mr. Brown used nonstop percussion to stitch songs together and keep the crowd on the dance floor, resulting in marathon performances that went deep into the night. Mr. Brown said the style got its name because “the music just goes and goes.”

In addition to being go-go’s principal architect, Mr. Brown remained the genre’s most charismatic figure. On stage, his spirited call-and-response routines became a hallmark of the music, reinforcing a sense of community that allowed the scene to thrive. As go-go became a point of pride for black Washingtonians, Mr. Brown became one of the city’s most recognizable figures.

Also, click for more information about Chuck Brown & Go Go Music.

Anthony Harley, 46, a Washington trumpet player better known as Little Benny ... helped define the city's homegrown style of funk music as a member of the Rare Essence go-go band during the 1980s.

.... [Chuck] Brown was the godfather of go-go, but when he went on tour, he left a void in Washington that was filled by younger bands. One of the most important was a group of teenagers including Mr. Harley. Called Rare Essence, it performed up to six times a week at venues in and around Washington, continuing to shape go-go into a style of funk that is still identified with the nation's capital....
In go-go, the groove doesn't stop, and Mr. Harley was known for having the boundless energy it took to continue making music from the beginning of the performance to the end. The Go-Go Hall of Fame inductee was a diminutive man with a powerful voice who led the band's vocals on fast-paced songs and could play two trumpets at once.

Mr. Harley left Rare Essence in the mid-1980s and formed Little Benny and the Masters. Among his most popular songs were "Cat in the Hat" and "Who Comes to Boogie." Later, he played with the go-go band Proper Utensils and reunited several times with original members of Rare Essence.

[Four of the five YouTube examples that were initially showcased in this post are no longer available. These examples replace those videos/sound files and are given in no particular order.

Video #1: Go Go Swing - Chuck Brown & The Soul Searchers

Wabangi Video, Published on Jul 20, 2012

Go Go Swing - Chuck Brown & The Soul Searchers.
Gogo Swing - Chuck Brown and the Soul Searchers Live 1986
Arranged by Chuck Brown&the Soul Searchers

Video #2: Chuck Brown and KK Donelson

kevj1069, Published on Oct 10, 2014

Video #3: Chuck Brown ** Wind Me Up Chuck ** Live

akimmbo, Published on Jun 13, 2015

We got the old school in the house tonight
"Hell, Yeah"

Video #4 A tribute to Chuck Brown \ BUSTIN' LOOSE \

Kei Duke, Published on Feb 21, 2015

An Original FUNKBUDOYA Back in 70's SOULTRAIN

Video #5: Chuck Brown~ Chocolate City Reunion

Uploaded by PyChip on Jul 7, 2011

Washington DC's Godfather of Go-Go performs at The Chocolate City Reunion July 4th 2011.

It's my belief that Washington D.C.'s go go music was a core component in the creation of "stomp & shake" cheerleading, and children's foot stomping cheers, both of appear to have originated in or near the Washington, D.C. area.

My thanks to the videographers of these featured videos and to the publishers of these featured videos.

Thanks for visiting pancocojams.

Visitor comments are welcome.

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