Elvert Barnes / Flickr
A view from the Reflecting Pool of the 2006 NSO Labor Day Concert.
What: National Symphony Orchestra‘s tribute to the legends of D.C. music.
When: Gates open at 5 p.m. and the the show starts at 8 p.m., Sunday.
Where: West lawn of the U.S. Capitol. The show will be moved to the Kennedy Center if it rains (call 202-416-8114 after 2:30 p.m.).
Why you should go: There are two D.C.’s, but both of them will come together for this event. When else can you hear go-go played on the U.S. Capitol lawn, and by our nation’s symphony orchestra no less? The music of D.C.’s own Duke Ellington, John Philip Sousa and Chuck Brown will be showcased. The show will also be a sort of birthday celebration for Brown, the “Godfather of Go-Go,” who turns 75 this year.
Other events to consider: Saturday is the last day to take advantage of Free Summer Saturdays at the Corcoran Gallery of Art at 500 17th St., NW. Admission, which normally costs $10, is free on Saturday.
Michael Martinez / The Kojo Nnamdi Show
Go-go first emerged during the 1970s in D.C.
Go-go has a tenuous place within the District’s borders. It’s the city’s homegrown music which came out of the black community, but many clubs and venues have been shut down over the past few decades because of liability and violence concerns. Police and local officials have linked the music to violence.
For years, it’s been rumored that go-go bands were banned from playing Fort Reno’s outdoor concert series in tony Tenleytown. This week, Washington City Paper asked a number of local musicians and concert organizers whether such a ban ever existed. Most respondents said it was mostly rumored but hard to confirm. Some said they’ve never recalled a go-go band requesting to play, or that none would play for free since most are large professional bands who normally take paying gigs.
But one respondent, Mike Kanin, who booked shows at Fort Reno in the late 1990s said, “I remember when we were booking, we weren’t allowed to book go-go bands. There were legitimate concerns about violence from the cops.”
These days if you want to catch a go-go show, you’re just as likely to head outside of the District’s borders than stay within them. But go-go has an uncertain fate in the suburbs, too; Prince George’s County, for example, recently tightened restrictions on dance halls with reputations for violence. And many of those clubs happen to host go-go shows.
What: “(Un)Lock It: The Percussive People in the Go-Go Pocket” photo exhibition.
When: Opening is from 6 to 8 p.m., Friday. The show runs until Oct. 7.
Where: The Gallery at Vivid Solutions, 2208 Martin Luther King Jr. Ave SE.
Why you should go: Photographer and drummer Thomas Sayers Ellis has been documenting the lives of local go-go stars and shows since the 1980s. His images capture D.C.’s homegrown musical culture even as it appears to be vanishing from the District’s borders.
Other events to consider: If you’re between 13 and 17 years of age (or know someone who is) consider attending Portraits After 5, which will feature a youth fashion show, portrait booths and the chance to view art at the National Portrait Gallery. The teen event takes place 6 to 10 p.m., Saturday.
Looking for an event that relates to race or class in D.C.? DCentric will be regularly posting event listings we believe will be of interest to our readers. If you have an event you think we should feature, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Chris Graythen / Getty Images
Chuck Brown is considered the “godfather of go-go,” helping to create D.C.’s genre of music.
What: “Evolution of the Go-Go Beat”
When: 1 p.m., Saturday.
Where: Anacostia Community Museum (1901 Fort Place, SE).
Why you should go: Go-go is the music of D.C., even though shows are increasingly being pushed to the suburbs. Get a history lesson on how the genre began and where it’s headed. Musicians Gregory “Sugar Bear” Elliot and Sweet Cherie are among the speakers, and Faycez U Know will perform.
Other events to consider: The Smithsonian Folklife Festival wraps up Monday. The free event at the National Mall focuses on Colombia, rhythm and blues and the Peace Corps. Also, La Clínica del Pueblo is hosting a screening of “The Other City,” a documentary on racial and class disparities among D.C.’s HIV/AIDS patients. Tickets cost $15 and the event takes place 6:30 p.m., Tuesday at GALA Hispanic Theatre (3333 14th Street, NW).
Flickr: Steven Snodgrass
D.C. street musicians play go-go, but full-fledged city shows are becoming more and more scarce.
This post comes to us courtesy of Anne Hoffman, an intern producer for the Kojo Nnamdi Show. Nnamdi will discuss the past, present and future of go-go at 1 p.m., Thursday.
“If go-go stopped, I don’t even know,” says musician Sweet Cherie, “it would be like Armageddon or something.” But go-go, for some the heartbeat of Washington D.C., the city’s answer to a regional sound, is losing territory. For many years now, go-go venues have been shut down inside D.C. due to club violence and liability issues, pushing the music further out into the Maryland suburbs like Prince George’s and Charles counties. Meanwhile punk rock, another D.C. musical mainstay, is not experiencing the same bad luck.