September 12, 2008

This Is What It Is All About!!!

So my friend told me he sent me a youtube link of my favorite Go-Go band. I was like, ok. Considering it's a mid 90's band that haven't exactly been trying to stay noticed since they broke up in the late 90's, I figured it was an old video from back in the day. But he insisted I watch it, because I would love it. And I did. Love it, that is. It was from last month and they were playing in Maine, out of all places. You have to understand, Go-Go music is a local inner city style of music found only here in Washington, D.C. So they were playing away from home and get this... the people listening was partying just as hard to it as we locals do! I'm not usually one to point out racial things (well, sometimes) but many consider go-go music to be a type of black music (ignorance), if there is such a thing. And the audience in Maine was entirely white. Oh did I love it. Little things like that is what gives me hope for the future of this country. A really old local band went to a American Folk Music Festival in Maine and tore the house down. Why? Because the people were open to something they may not be familiar with also they was willing to give it a chance. And guess what? They loved it. They was crowd surfing and chanting and all! Watch the clip. You could see the emotion in the crowd all the way to the back. Check out grandma in the front row!

The people in Bangor, ME got to feel the emotion in the music that the inner city youth of DC risked violence to feel too. It's one of those things you need to experience live. Go-Go music just is... Something you feel.

Check out the girls on stage too!

A bit of history... from the billing a the festival:

Junk Yard Band
Washington, D.C.

For nearly 40 years, the dominant dance beat of our nation’s capital has been a heavily syncopated, percussive music called “go-go.” Go-go is a blend of Latin beats, call-and response chants, rhythm and blues, and jazz layered over a signature pattern of syncopated quarter and eighth note rhythms laid down on snare, kick drum and high hat cymbals. A regional offshoot of funk pioneered in the early ‘70s by Chuck Brown, go-go has over the years developed its own distinctive sound, dance moves, and traditions. Best enjoyed live, it has thrived around marathon performances, bootlegged recordings of live sets, and the almost rabid obsession of its local fans. Over several hours on stage in a crowded dance club the beat never stops, and the interaction between the band and the audience is an integral part of the go-go experience.

In the early 1980s a group of teenagers and children, some as young as eight, from the D.C. housing project known as “Barry Farms” formed a little neighborhood go-go band. Using an assortment of handmade and found instruments - paint buckets, hubcaps, crates, cans and old pots and pans - they began playing regularly around Barry Farms, at community events, and frequently busked on the streets. As more gigs and money became available they were able to swap out their scavenged "junk" for real instruments. In reference to their humble beginnings, they took the name Junk Yard Band, and quickly rose to the top of the D.C. music scene.

The group’s busking created a sensation and the group became somewhat of a tourist attraction, helping to land Junk Yard roles in the movies D.C. Cab with Mr. T and Tougher than Leather with Run DMC, as well as a recording contract with the pioneering hip-hop label Def Jam. Under Def Jam, the group released the single "Sardines." The song’s catchy go-go beat and call-and-response hook, “Sardines! Hey, and Pork and Beans!" captured national attention. Junk Yard, along with a few other go-go artists like Chuck Brown, Trouble Funk, Rare Essence, and E.U, developed a successful East Coast touring circuit, and shared the bill with hip-hop artists such as LL Cool J, Salt-N-Pepa and the Beastie Boys.

While newer styles have nudged go-go from the media limelight, go-go music still reigns in and around D.C., and Junk Yard still presides over marathon parties, laying down its signature groove with a frontline of vocalists that keep the party going and going and going . . .

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