The Sound of DC Go-Go in the '80s
We explore the sound of ’80s go-go from the DC area, with tracks from Little Benny, Trouble Funk and Rare Essence. Drop the bomb!
Liner notes by DJ Soul Sister: This episode of Lost and Found features 1980s go-go from the Washington, DC, area (including parts of Maryland and Virginia), all from the original vinyl pressings. The genre of go-go refers to a style of live, funk-based music indigenous to Washington, DC, consisting of the necessary elements of conga drums, and a lead talker engaging in improvisational call and response with an audience. Live go-go shows highlight long-playing grooves and songs, whether originals, covers or improvisational vamping, bridged by breaks of the congas and other percussion instruments with the drums which “lock” together into a “pocket.” This creates the sense of one nonstop song. In his book Funk: The Music, the People, and the Rhythm of the One, Rickey Vincent wrote, “Go Go bands . . . delivered the strongest, hottest, truest monster funk experience of the decade of the 1980s.” Natalie Hopkinson wrote in her book ‘Go-Go Live: The Musical Life and Death of a Chocolate City’, “You also know it’s go-go because the audience is part of the band. Together the musicians onstage and the people below it create the music live – always live – through a dialogue of sounds, movements, and chants.” Kip Lornell and Charles C. Stephenson, Jr., also honed in on a necessary distinction in their book, -The Beat: Go-Go Music from Washington, DC: “Go-go is more than just music . . . [it] provides a voice for members of DC’s often overlooked, much maligned and truly disenfranchised African-American community. Its younger members identify with go-go musicians in much the same way that blues artists once provided a voice for the black community and rappers do today.”
Additional online resources on go-go:
Take Me Out To The Go-Go
Go-Go Forever by Ericka Blount Danois for MTV.com
Interview with Trouble Funk’s Big Tony for RBMA Daily