Friday, May 18, 2012

Chuck Brown Godfather of Go Go Has Passed On.

Chuck Brown at 2009 New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival
Chuck Brown, the Godfather of Go Go, that uniquely Washington DC musical form of funk, passed away Wednesday, May 16 at the age of 75.

Chris Richards in the Washington Post obituary described what Chuck Brown did in creating the musical form, “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 his originals he adapted songs from Duke Ellington (It Don’t Mean A Thing Unless It’s Got That Go Go Swing); Louis Jordan (Run Joe); T-Bone Walker (Stormy Monday); James Moody's Moody's Mood and Memphis Slim (Everyday i Have The Blues) in his marathon medleys.

While Brown enjoyed some commercial success including “Bustin’ Loose” which topped the Rhythm and Blues charts for several weeks, neither he or other Go Go Bands were ever able to break Go Go outside of the DC metropolitan area. Locally, he was a King and his music inspired and was heard by generations of Washingtonians. I worked with those who went to Brown’s shows, just like their parents had done decades earlier and his recent shows had audiences from 18 to 60. He also played festivals worldwide as this writer saw him at the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival in 2009.
Chuck Brown at 2010 Tinner Hill Blues Festival
Brown’s brand of funk brought a wide range of musical elements including jazz, latin, gospel and blues, in addition to classic funk and soul. He himself acknowledged the impact of seeing DC blues legend Bobby Parker in inspiring him to be a guitarist and Parker remained a lifetime friend. The two did a couple of shows as part of the annual Tinner Hill Blues Festival, where Brown gave his spin on a number of classic blues songs. Parker himself was influenced by Brown and recorded at least one Go Go Blues number. Also, in conjunction with the Tinner Hill Foundation, Brown provided the narration to Beverly Lindsay-Johnson’s award winning short documentary film “John Jackson; A Blues Treasure.” This film is shown annually at the Tinner Hill Blues Festival.

Chuck Brown will be missed but his many musical achievements will long be part of the DC musical fabric.  Here is the link to the Washington Post obituary.

Here is Chuck Brown performing "Hootchie Cootchie Man."

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