*Late go-go legend Chuck Brown, who rocked many open-air theaters during his iconic career, will soon have one named in his honor in his Washington hometown.
D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray signed legislation Thursday to build a Chuck Brown Music Pavilion, reports NBC Washington. Photos of the project were on display at a news conference attended by city leaders, project designers and Brown’s family members.
The $1 million pavilion – constructed of wood and stainless steel – will be located at Langdon Park in northeast D.C. near the intersection of 20th and Franklin streets. The bandshell will faces outdoor seating for 900 people built into an earthen berm, surrounded by magnolia trees and backed by a copse of evergreens. Beside it stands a “timeline tower” listing Brown’s most famous songs in chronological order.
Visitors will also learn the history of the man known as the “Godfather of Go-Go.” The venue is scheduled to open this summer.
Mayor Gray said the pavilion was created “in order the make sure we don’t forget Chuck,” and he added, “It would be a place where young musicians in the future will be able to come and perform and hopefully perform some of Chuck’s great songs.”
The same design firm that restored the interior of the historic Howard Theatre where Brown often performed, Marshall Moya Design, also designed the Chuck Brown Pavilion.
Brown daughter Cherita Whiting said the final design was one of several presented for the family’s blessing. Construction will begin on the memorial soon, and Whiting said she hoped to see a ribbon-cutting May 16, the first anniversary of Brown’s passing, or Aug. 22, which would have been his 77th birthday.
“I think my dad would be very proud and extremely happy to be honored like that,” she said.
*During his lifetime, Chuck Brown was known as the godfather of go-go music, a fact not lost on Brian Culbertson, who worked with the North Carolina-born legend on the song “Feelin’ It.”
The collaboration with Brown, which appears on Culbertson’s 2010 album, “XII,” marked a personal and professional high point for the jazz musician. Nowadays, Culbertson joins a sea of fans that are still saddened by Brown’s tragic death last month.
“It’s surreal. I mean it’s hard to believe someone like that is gone, you know what I mean,” the instrumentalist told EURweb’s Lee Bailey. “I still have the image and the feeling everything is still here like he is still alive, but knowing you’ll never see that person again l mean it’s definitely sad. Very sad.”
Despite the sadness, Brown won’t be far from Culbertson’s mind as he plans to pay tribute to the go-go showman this weekend at his Napa Valley Jazz Getaway. The first annual event, which kicks off Thursday (June 7) and runs through Sunday (June 10), will feature performances from Culbertson as well as Oleta Adams, Eric Darius, David Benoit, Kenny Lattimore, Eric Marienthal and Noel Gourdin.
“Friday night, Sinbad will be our comedian and so we are gonna do a tribute to Chuck and perform that song, “Feelin’ It,” and we’re gonna put a little bit of, a little Chuck anthology in the middle of that song with a little “Bustin’ Loose” in there and whatnot,” Culbertson explained, adding that music won’t be the only thing fans can look forward to. “It’s basically a four-day event based around two nights of concerts. But it’s not only concerts. There’s wine tasting. There’s dinners. There’s a jam session. There’s Q&A sessions. So it’s really a whole experience.”
With tickets for the Getaway being sold out since February, Culbertson anticipates an impressive turn- out full of local and out of town music lovers. Couple that with Napa Valley being a prominent destination for those visiting California and it felt like a no-brainer for the entertainer to make it the location for his inaugural event.
“I wanted to do it up there because 1) I used to play up there at a winery for years because they had a jazz series. And all of a sudden, they stopped doing it. So there was no jazz going on in the entire Napa Valley,” said Culbertson. “And I just love the area. Obviously it has the best wines in the world, arguably. And the scenery is just unbelievable. So I just thought it would make a great setting for the festival. People from all over the world literally want to go there. I knew it was definitely a destination place. So let me give people another reason to make the trip.”
As the first Getaway officially becomes secure in the books, Culbertson has his sights set on the future. The plan, according to the entertainer, is simple as he looks to make the event bigger and better than what he has in store for those attending the Getaway this year.
“We’re gonna greatly expand it next year, break it outdoors on to a golf course,” revealed Culbertson. “It’s gonna be much wider and much bigger audience capacity. So we’re pretty excited.”
Jam with Brian and Chuck on the funky “Feelin It”:
The month long observation was renamed by a 2009 proclamation issued by President Obama. (June was formerly and formally known as Black Music Month under a proclamation from then President Jimmy Carter in June, 1979.) It is our hope that EURweb readers, music programmers, agents, promoters and fans will visit our special section daily to review, purchase and share news about the new music and new artists that we have here.
There are indeed some gems, such as new releases from the legendary Lenny Williams, a return to the scene by Karyn White, emerging artist Dorie Pride, NBC’s The Voice finalist Kim Yarbrough, Eric Benet’s hotnew project “The One” and more. While you’re at it, enjoy my new single as well “Mr. President’s Girl.”
EURweb also acknowledges the fact that we are losing more and more of our legends everyday. This year we pay homage to NickAshford,Etta James, Don Cornelius, Whitney Houston,Donna Summer and Chuck Brown, as well as all of the others who recently passed away and are not mentioned here. We seek to honor black music’s past, while preserving the present and establishing the future. It was great to meet WRNB Philadelphia’s host in the midday Mo’Shay LaRen and to have her vote of confidence in our vision to pave the way for the new while observing black music’s history.
We are in it to win it and hopefully we can re-invigorate the industry by spotlighting these deserving artists. Please enjoy and take action by clicking HERE, because the old industry model is no more. Even the best of artists must walk through the door proving that they have an active fan base. EURweb, we can do it. Let the celebration begin!
The godfather of Go-Go Music Chuck Brown (1936-2012)
*By Wednesday afternoon the news had spread about the passing of 75 year old R&B legend Chuck Brown, who formulated the pulsating beats known as “go-go” music. It’s rhythmic phrasings are a mix of calypso, funk, soul, jazz, dance hall and all else that makes for indescribable feel good music. If you’re cool enough to know that Washington, D. C. has two nicknames, then you know that one of them is “Chocolate City,” the birthplace of go-go. It was there in our nation’s capitol that the Chuck Brown sound resonated at clubs, parks and festivals. Chuck’s early days date back to the 1960′s. His discography ranges from 1972 to 2010, but it was 1979′s recording of “Busting Loose” (on Source Records) that put Chuck Brown & The Soul Searchers on the map. Retired music industry vet Logan Westbrooks was the president of Source Records at the time when Chuck was signed.
Logan Westbrooks to EURweb: “Chuck Brown was the first artist signed to Source Records and Busting Loose was the first release and it went gold! Chuck Brown and that song firmly established Source Records and became the signature of Source Records.”
Not only did Chuck Brown’s “Busting Loose” establish a hit back then, it forged the trans-cultural spine of one of hip hop’s biggest hits. Twenty three years later Nelly sampled it for his mega hit “Hot In Herre” in 2002. Other songs such as “I Need Some Money” and Chuck’s go-go jazz renditions like “It Don’t Mean A Thing If It Ain’t Got That Swing” & “Moody’s Mood for Love” considerably added to his repertoire. Former Source Records President & CEO Logan Westbrooks further comments on what will become of the Chuck Brown legacy.
Logan Westbrooks to EURweb.com: “The creator and artist of go-go music is no longer with us in person but his genius will live on forever. I am grateful for him and his talent, and thankful that our pathways crossed and extended into a lifelong relationship.”
For this EURweb reporter (turned jazz artist), what trumped the Chuck Brown experience were his live shows. Though raised in D.C., I only recently witnessed Chuck in concert for three years (2009-2011) on the Tom Joyner cruise, aka The Fantastic Voyage. It was trance like enough to be on a vessel among other slated performers such as Frankie Beverly, Babyface, Charlie Wilson, Fantasia, Ledisi, Angie Stone and so many more, but having to choose which one to see during my downtime was the sweet side of torment. One night, I decided to pay a visit to my homeboy Chuck Brown in the Bolero Lounge. Since I had moved from D.C. before I was old enough to go to clubs, and since I liked the song Busting Loose, why not just step into the Chuck Brown show for just a few minutes. One hour and a half later, I had not moved from my spot, except to realize that I should probably put my purse down and get something to drink because I was soaking wet, from giggling, gyrating and being enraptured in the go-go swing! The conga’s played, the horns accentuated with precision, then Chuck or his daughter would spice it up with vocals or a rap. Add to that a smokin’ keyboardist hunched over on one side of the stage and Sweet Cherie on the opposite side also stroking the ivories. Meanwhile Chuck in his classic fedora was strumming on a blond Gibson guitar ES-335, that he is said to have called ‘Blondie.’ This 70 year old man had orchestrated a jam packed room of patrons into a carefree state of “go-go” bliss with a rhythm and never let you go. For the next two years I was fortunate enough to make the talent line up on the Tom Joyner cruise and the Chuck Brown show made my agenda.
Jazzy Rita & Chuck Brown at autograph session on TJ Cruise 2010
My favorite was Chuck Brown’s version of Moody’s Mood For Love. It was jazzy, funky, cool and smooth. I told Chuck at an autograph session on board that I’d really love to sing that with him. He replied in that all too familiar warm and raspy voice; “Yeah, Jazzy Rita, sounds like a good idea!” One night he hinted for me to come up on stage, but I shied away and just kept dancing, there were so many singers on board and so many stars in the house. Fortunately my music director Willie Daniels captured my precious and few moments with Chuck. What he did to a crowd was nothing short of magical. As the saying goes; ‘Guess you had to be there.’
Jazzy Rita & Chuck Brown VIP's on TJ Cruise 2009
Chuck Brown also influenced many bands such as EU, which stands for Experience Unlimited. Their break out hit was “Da Butt” from Spike Lee’s School Daze movie in 1988. Among Mr. Brown’s numerous career achievements, he was honored by the National Symphony Orchestra with a Legends of Washington Music award and he was named one of the top people to have influenced Washington, D.C. in the past 45 years. A city block on 7th Street in Northwest Washington, DC between Florida Avenue and T Street was renamed “Chuck Brown Way.” Mr. Chuck Brown was born in Gaston, North Carolina on August 22, 1936 and succumbed May 16, 2012 in Baltimore, Maryland.
Chuck Brown’s last album was released in 2010 and earned him a Grammy nomination. It featured Jill Scott, Marcus Miller and his amazing band. For more on the legendary godfather of go-go, visit his official website at http://windmeupchuck.com/.
Witness Chuck Brown in this EURweb Exclusive video from Jazzy Rita’s personal files.
To the late Chuck Brown; what a loss, what a life, what a party, what a ride! Guess it was time to go-go, thankfully we’ve been left with a go-go swing that should never be forgotten.