DCentric » Go-go http://dcentric.wamu.org Race, Class, The District. Wed, 16 May 2012 20:20:35 +0000 en hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.2.1 Copyright © WAMU DCentric Picks: NSO Labor Day Concert http://dcentric.wamu.org/2011/09/dcentric-picks-nso-labor-day-concert/ http://dcentric.wamu.org/2011/09/dcentric-picks-nso-labor-day-concert/#comments Thu, 01 Sep 2011 16:09:06 +0000 Elahe Izadi http://dcentric.wamu.org/?p=10154 Continue reading ]]>

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.).

Cost: Free.

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.

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Does Go-Go Have a Home in Tenleytown? http://dcentric.wamu.org/2011/08/does-go-go-have-a-home-in-tenleytown/ http://dcentric.wamu.org/2011/08/does-go-go-have-a-home-in-tenleytown/#comments Fri, 05 Aug 2011 16:11:04 +0000 Elahe Izadi http://dcentric.wamu.org/?p=9450 Continue reading ]]>

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.

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DCentric Picks: ‘The Percussive People in the Go-Go Pocket’ http://dcentric.wamu.org/2011/08/dcentric-picks-the-percussive-people-in-the-go-go-pocket/ http://dcentric.wamu.org/2011/08/dcentric-picks-the-percussive-people-in-the-go-go-pocket/#comments Thu, 04 Aug 2011 18:55:49 +0000 Elahe Izadi http://dcentric.wamu.org/?p=9443 Continue reading ]]> 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.

Cost: Free.

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.

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DCentric Picks: Evolution of the Go-Go Beat http://dcentric.wamu.org/2011/07/dcentric-picks-evolution-of-the-go-go-beat/ http://dcentric.wamu.org/2011/07/dcentric-picks-evolution-of-the-go-go-beat/#comments Thu, 07 Jul 2011 20:04:45 +0000 Elahe Izadi http://dcentric.wamu.org/?p=8580 Continue reading ]]> 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 dcentric@wamu.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).

Cost: Free.

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).

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Go-Go In D.C.’s Neighborhoods: Soon To Be a Thing of the Past? http://dcentric.wamu.org/2011/05/6510/ http://dcentric.wamu.org/2011/05/6510/#comments Thu, 05 May 2011 15:09:23 +0000 Elahe Izadi http://dcentric.wamu.org/?p=6510 Continue reading ]]>

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.

In March 2011 Washington City Paper article, reporter Sadie Dingfelder investigated neighborhood responses to two different music warehouses: go-go venue Caveyard and punk rock house The Hole in the Sky (HITS). The go-go venue was shut down before it even had its first event, while it took cops a year to close the punk rock house. Yet both places were shut down for the same reason: “no Certificate of Occupancy and insufficient fire exits.”  Dingfelder says that the neighbors called the police and fire marshal before the booked go-go bands listed on the flyer – among them T.O.B. and T.E.– could set foot on stage at the Caveyard.

In an e-mail to DCentric, Dingfelder explained the background of her piece, writing, “I think the story is a twist on the usual story of racism. Here, I think, a mostly black neighborhood sees groups of young black people as a bigger threat than groups of white kids, even though the white kids are more overtly anti-establishment. I’m curious why go-go is seen as a stronger destabilizing force than punk.”

Since the 1980s, go-go has been associated by local police and community leaders with drug and gang related violence. But many go-go fans say that the musicians and percussion-heavy songs they play have nothing to with the feuds that sometimes break out at performances.

Rare Essence publicist and go-go fan Brandi Dunnegan argues that go-go music provides a space where different community residents come together, and some of those residents have problems with each other. The result is the subsequent violence that ultimately receives the most – and loudest – media attention.

Rather, advocates say that go-go has provided a deeply positive outlet for many of D.C.’s poorest and most vulnerable residents. Some musicians cite go-go as the reason they stayed in school, and in some cases, alive. For Chi Ali of Suttle Thoughts, singing in his go-go band was not an option unless he behaved well and did his homework. Performing in go-go shows can also be a ticket to community recognition and respect, as in the case for Backyard Band’s Anwan Glover who went on to play Slim Charles on The Wire.

ANC Commissioner Tim Clark was quoted in Dingfelder’s article as saying, “Our community is turning that corner between violent crimes to become a more safe, stable community… I don’t think go-go is what our community needs at this time. We need stable retail and to attract people to our community who want to build lives.”

Perhaps go-go could be the very force that contributes to a stronger community and arts scene, just as neighbors believe punk is doing already.

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