By Nia Hightower, DC Music Live
Leading up to Chuck Brown’s birthday today, family, friends and the D.C. and music communities continue to adjust to life without Godfather of Go-Go.
The Grammy Award nominee and creator of the go-go sound died May 16 and would have turned 76 today.
“His birthday was always a special celebration in D.C.,” said Tom Goldfogle, who had managed Brown for the past 12 years. “We always tried to do things that elevated his music around his birthday.”
This year, D.C. Mayor Vincent Gray this morning proclaimed Aug. 22 as Chuck Brown Day and The Howard Theatre announced an endearing legacy series that showcases artists inspired by the go-go maestro.
In addition to the Chuck Brown Day proclamation, the mayor announced plans for the portion of Langdon Park between 18thand 20th Streets to bear the musical legend’s name. Renovations to the amphitheater inside the Northeast D.C. park have also been proposed.
“We thought a memorial focused on performance venue would be a fitting tribute to Chuck, and this park is already a place where people from all backgrounds and all ages gather to enjoy the outdoors and music,” Gray said. “This will create a lasting and appropriate reminder of Chuck’s legacy.”
He remembered Brown as not only a great musician, but as a humble man.
“As many of you know Chuck was a personal friend of mine,” the mayor said today during his press briefing with Brown family members – wife Jocelyn Brown, sons Nikos Brown and Wiley Brown and daughter K.K. Brown – and Goldfogle standing nearby.
WIND ME UP CHUCK! MONDAYS
For the next four months, Wind Me Up Chuck! Mondays will feature various musicians, but the constant will be the Chuck Brown Band – Brown’s daughter K.K. Brown, vocals; Donnell “D Floyd” Floyd, vocals; Frank “Scooby” Marshall, vocals and guitar; “Sweet Cherie” Mitchell-Agurs, keyboards and vocals; Kenny “Kwickfoot” Gross, drums; “Mighty Moe” Hagans, percussion; Karlston “Ice” Ross, bass; Marcus Young; Greg Boyer, trombone; Bryan Mills, saxophone; and Brad Clements, trumpet.
Goldfogle says the series is a way for fans to continue celebrating Brown and the music he gave to the people of D.C.
As a boy, Brown used to shine shoes in the alley next to The Howard and paid the guy at the back door to sneak a peek at the shows that would come through. The street just a block from The Howard bears Brown’s name, and he went on to perform at the historic theater numerous times before its rebirth in April.
Though he fell ill before he could officially christen the newly renovated venue, thousands gathered there for the public viewing of his body in May.
“The legacy series at The Howard is especially meaningful, not just because of the historical significance of The Howard as it relates to Chuck Brown and his life …, but because it gives the nation’s capital a regular spot to showcase the music of the nation’s capital,” said Goldfogle.
The Howard will kick off the legacy series Sept. 17 with a performance by the band and funk artist George Clinton.
KEEPING UP THE LEGACY
Over the more than four decades of his musical career, Brown had collaborated with and influenced artists that range from Jill Scott to Nelly and the hundreds of bands and musicians who continue to contribute to the go-go genre. Nelly sampled Brown’s 1978 hit “Bustin’ Loose” in 2002 with his hit “Hot in Herre.” And the Grammys gave Brown his first nomination for his collaboration with Scott on “Love” in 2010.
Last year, Brown celebrated his 75th birthday by performing with the National Symphony Orchestra on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol. He also marked the occasion with performances by Ledisi, Kindred the Family Soul, Raheem DeVaughn and a slew of other hit makers at the 9:30 Club. Many of the same artists returned to D.C. to perform at his memorial at the Washington Convention Center on May 31.
Along with the rest of D.C., I miss him everyday,” Goldfogle said. “It is my hope that the fans continue to support the band and his music so that the beat doesn’t stop. I believe Chuck would have liked that. He gave us a lot to celebrate.”