90.9 WBUR - Boston's NPR news station
Top Stories:
PLEDGE NOW
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

 

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
ONPOINT
TODAY
Mar 4, 2015
Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks during a keynote address at the Watermark Silicon Valley Conference for Women, Tuesday, Feb. 24, 2015, in Santa Clara, Calif.  (AP)

Hillary Clinton’s week of bad headlines: about her emails and foreign money going to the Clinton Foundation. We’ll dig in.

Mar 4, 2015
This photo taken July 31, 2012 shows a "tiny" house April Anson built in Portland, Ore. For the past couple of months, 33-year-old Anson and her friends have been planning, measuring, sawing and hammering their way toward completion of what might look like a child’s playhouse. (AP)

Tiny houses, micro-apartments. They’re hot. Americans are downsizing.

RECENT
SHOWS
Mar 3, 2015
This July 21, 2014 photo shows strawberry banana chia breakfast smoothie in Concord, N.H. Breakfast habits in America are changing, leading to dramatic shifts in business strategy. (AP)

Food guidelines are changing. So is what we eat for breakfast. Cereal? Out of favor. Eggs? Maybe OK. And all kinds of new menus. We’ll look at Americans and breakfast.

 
Mar 3, 2015
A group of community activists in San Francisco, CA celebrate that city's February 2014 embrace of the Fair Chance Campaign's efforts to alter background checks on employment and housing for convicted criminals. (Courtesy All of Us Or None)

Is it time to stop asking job applicants if they’ve been convicted of a crime? We’ll look at employment and unemployment after prison.

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
Answers To Your Questions On Black Holes
Tuesday, Mar 3, 2015

Yale University’s Priyamvada Natarajan answers your black hole questions in full. (Well, most of them.)

More »
Comment
 
Want To Listen To Lead Belly? Here’s Where To Start
Monday, Mar 2, 2015

Loved our show on Lead Belly, but unsure on where you should start to listen? Jeff Place of the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage offers his best picks for a beginning Lead Belly listener.

More »
Comment
 
Our Week In The Web: February 27, 2015
Friday, Feb 27, 2015

We won’t lead you into a debate on the color of #TheDress (it’s blue and black, end of debate), but we do wonder about the blurring lines between so-called Internet culture and general popular culture. Also, it’s snowing in Boston. Still.

More »
Comment