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Go Go-Go

The black church plus blues plus funk meant go-go music in 1970s Washington DC.  We’ll get the soundtrack and story of a tough time.

 In this Jan. 18, 2010 file photo, master of ceremonies Chuck Brown speaks during a program to celebrate the legacy of the late Martin Luther King, Jr. at the Washington National Cathedral in Washington. Brown, who styled a unique brand of funk music as a singer, guitarist and songwriter known as the "godfather of go-go," died Wednesday, May 16, 2012 after suffering from pneumonia. He was 75. (AP)

In this Jan. 18, 2010 file photo, master of ceremonies Chuck Brown speaks during a program to celebrate the legacy of the late Martin Luther King, Jr. at the Washington National Cathedral in Washington. Brown, who styled a unique brand of funk music as a singer, guitarist and songwriter known as the “godfather of go-go,” died Wednesday, May 16, 2012 after suffering from pneumonia. He was 75. (AP)

The 1970s and ‘80s were tough times in the nation’s capital, Washington, D.C.  Old economics and certainties were falling away.  Segregation and desegregation were in major flux.  And the capital, not so far from the gleaming monuments and domes, was a very self-consciously black city.  African-American.  The “Chocolate City,” as the DJs had it.

And the soundtrack was Washington’s own “go-go” music.  It was power and freedom and funk and conga drums.  Call and response.

This hour, On Point:  go-go, and the life of the Chocolate City.

-Tom Ashbrook

Guests

Natalie Hopkinson, contributing editor for The Root and author of Go-Go Live: The Musical Life and Death of a Chocolate City.

Nico Hobson, go-go historian and archivist and co-owner of gogoradio.com.

From Tom’s Reading List

Washington Post “Summertime, with its steamy air and sinuous rhythms, cries out for a soundtrack — and whether it’s rap or go-go, R&B or hip-hop, the music is more than likely to have African American roots. Two recent books about black culture are excellent guides to the sounds booming from the club, the car or the headphones.”

New York Times “In the mid-1970s, with disco luring dancers away from live bands, Mr. Brown drew on James Brown’s funk, Latin rhythms and the crowd-pleasing good humor of Cab Calloway-era big bands to create go-go.”

Video

Hopkinson describes her introduction to the world of go-go music and what she hopes readers will gain from reading “Go-Go Live: The Musical Life and Death of a Chocolate City”

GO-GO LIVE: The Musical Life and Death of a Chocolate City.

Chuck Brown preforms Wind Me Up.

Excerpt: Go-Go-Live

Playlist

“Bustin’ Loose” by Chuck Brown & The Soul Searchers

“Chocolate City” by Parliament

“It Don’t Mean A Thing” (LIVE) by Chuck Brown & The Soul Searchers

“Run Joe” by Chuck Brown & The Soul Searchers

“One on One” by Rare Essence

“Cat in the Hat” by Little Benny and the Masters

“Good to Go” by Trouble Funk

“Let Me Clear My Throat” by D. J. Kool

“Diamond in the Black” by Suttle Thoughts

“Pretty Girls” by Wale

“Keep It Gangsta” by Backyard Band

“U Go” by TCB aka The Bounce Beat Kingz

“Welcome to DC” by Mambo Sauce

 

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