Now in his 5th decade as a recording/performing artist, the electrifying Godfather of Go-Go, Chuck Brown, is arguably, hotter than ever. He recently had a street named after him in his home town of Washington D.C., is featured as the lead vocalist on a newly released Thievery Corporation track, was joined by Jamie Fox onstage at the Lincoln Theater during inauguration week, and is the forthcoming recipient of the National Award at the upcoming DC Hall of Fame Society Awards. Basically, the man is on fire, and we've got him coming to The Barns on April 10. About 150 tickets are left, so get your tickets now here, I promise they won't be around for long.
I recently had the chance to chat with him about his career and subsequent influence on the local and national music scene. Check it out below...
Graham: You created the Go-Go genre—did you know at the time this was something brand new? What made it so distinct?
Chuck Brown: I had a feeling….because everybody caught onto it. I thought it was going to be ok – I was looking for a sound for myself. James Brown had his own sound. But Go-Go became a sound for the town. I didn’t know it was going to go nationwide like it did when we had our first hit.
What made it distinct was that it was a feel, and the way it made people get on the dance floor. It was different from anything at the time. Everything was up-tempo, so we started to break it down, and talk to the audience. The slower the flow… the longer you go!
G: You are a highly acclaimed artist with such honors as the Lifetime Heritage Fellowship Award from National Endowment of the Arts. What are you personally most proud of in your musical career?
CB: Right now I’m most proud that they named a street after me. I never dreamed of that. All these awards are great gifts to me.
G: Your 2001 release Your Game: Live at the 9:30 Club was recorded in your hometown Washington, D.C. How has the D.C. music scene evolved throughout your career and how do locations influence or inspire your sound?
CB: The young bands keep it happening. The pioneers are still out there, Rare Essence, EU, Junk Yard, Trouble Funk, but there are new bands with their own sound – TCB, Mambo Sauce, Reaction Band and others.
The fans influence our sound more than locations.
G: Released in 2007, We’re All About the Business was one of your most successful recordings in years. What keeps your music fresh and innovative?
CB: The ideas we have and the inspiration we get from the band and from the fans. Chucky Thompson is the dynamite producer that worked with me on that album. He comes up with some energetic ideas that are new to me. We have a talented songwriter named Kevin Blackmon also. All this is enhancing our sound.
G: Your music has been sampled in many songs by contemporary artists like Eve and Nelly, and you’re featured as the lead vocalist on a track from the latest Thievery Corporation record. What do you think draws these artists to use your music?
CB: I’m honored that they use it. I think they are drawn by the different feel I have and I guess they are inspired by it. I hope they keep on using it! They influence me also.
G: Who are your favorite artists to collaborate with?
CB: I have had the honor of playing with so many. I’ve enjoyed playing with Carlos Santana, George Clinton, Citizen Cope, Thievery Corporation, Jill Scott, and most recently Jeff Majors.
G: What can fans look forward to on your forthcoming album where you are once again working with multi-platinum producer Chucky Thompson?
CB: They can look for some new tunes with new flavor, new ideas and new collaborations. These young people keep me out here, they are my greatest inspiration.