On Friday I got to hear a Washington DC original. Chuck Brown, The Godfather of Go-go. I have heard Chuck play pretty many times now, although not enough to keep up with all the call and response singing that goes on among the real hardcore fans. One thing that always surprises me is how deep his jazz roots go. Also how good a guitarist he is. He was playing a PRS rather than the Gibson 335 that I associate with him on Friday. The show was an outdoor show at the Ronald Reagan building. I know, I know… anyone who has ever been near that building can attest to what a soul-killing architectural nightmare it is. It is truly the worst of the bureaucratic DC cityscape. But Chuck’s music is more powerful than any bland building vibe. He was great. He always is. And had the crowd dancing right away. His band was spot on. Brad Clemmens and Greg Boyer on Trumpet and trombone were wonderful. I don’t know his drummer’s name – or the conga player (indispensable to the go-go beat), but they were as solid as it gets.
Here is something I love about him: One of his standards is his special go-go version of “Moody’s Mood.” It is worth looking at the lineage of this song. “Moody’s Mood” comes from a tenor sax solo the great James Moody took over the changes of “I’m In the Mood For Love” on a recording he made in the ’50’s. (That cut was still called “I’m in the Mood For Love”) That solo was transcribed by one of the great jazz vocalists of all time, King Pleasure, who put words to it and sang it on his own record – calling it “Moody’s Mood.” That was probably in the early sixties???? Here – 50 years later Chuck Brown has the crowd dancing and singing along to “There I go, there I go, there I go again… Pretty Baby you are the soul that rocks my control.” All of his regular fans, many of whom have been listening to him steadily for 40 years, know all those lyrics by heart. I’m not sure I have point here, other than Chuck Brown more than deserves his status as DC legend. And perhaps that I am comforted by how deep his roots go into the jazz heart of Washington DC.
Redskins just lost to Detroit.
The Dick Kaufmann concert at the Atlas theater was a huge success. Dick sang well and the audience LOVED it. Some thoughts on this:
- The Atlas is foolish to let Scott Burgess go as their house sound guy. He is talented, knows their system and gear. If they start letting independent sound guys in without any supervision, that place will quickly go downhill.
- The Atlas also in in need of a house production person. How ridiculous it was to be looking for an hour(!) to find someone with a key to the loading dock. Just infuriating. That theater has the potential of becoming a wonderful performing venue – or being another DC organizational casualty. We will know soon enough.
- I love playing with great players. Chaise Lounge was Dick’s band with a few additional players – all of them great. (Tom Williams – trumpet, Bob Spates – violin, Dan Hovey – guitar) Life feels so good in such solid company. Playing music is like playing tennis for some people. When you are playing with great players, your own playing gets better. Oh and, BTW, I enjoyed being at the piano for this show.
- The importance of hanging out after the gig is not to be underestimated. We all went to the bar next to the theater and had a few drinks after the show. The bar was the H Street Country Club. I had heard that they were going to put a 9 hole indoor putt-putt golf course in here – where is it? Such a great idea.
- The importance of a well dressed band: Looking sharp has become a mission with Chaise Lounge.
Ever since our interview with Liane Hansen on NPR, our CD sales have skyrocketed. Well… FOR US… they have skyrocketed. Still, it is pretty cool to have CDbaby request literally hundreds of CDs. Of both CDs: The Early Years and Second Hand Smoke. The other thing that has happened is that a few people have requested the sheet music for our songs. I think that I am going to post lead-sheets for our songs on the CL site. I know that if I was digging around for the music for a song I liked I would LOVE to find an accurate lead-sheet in the right key. Every time I try and buy music online – it turns out to be so difficult I end up going to Dale music and buying a book.
Tonight, Chaise Lounge (plus a few fellow travelers) is backing up Dick Kaufmann at the Atlas Theater here in Washington DC. He will be doing three duets with Marilyn. I will be playing an entire evening at the piano. I am a much better pianist than a guitarist anyway. On board are Dan Hovey on guitar, Tom Williams on trumpet and flugel, Bob Spates on violin, and David Lonkevich on flute. There was a dress rehearsal on Sunday that lasted six hours. The show hits tonight at 8 PM. We are all looking forward to it.
Started work this week on two film projects. One is the theme for a show that the Newseum is producing. Paul Sparrow is in charge. Susan Brooks Kelly is editing. It is a short piece of music but has to be… just so…
Also a film for Susan Koch. More about that as I get into it. It is a terrific film.
I found a batch of used Manhasset music stands on Ebay and bought them today. At some point others will love me for putting all my junky wire stands in the car for emergencies and having a house full of sturdy workman-like music stands.
Chaise Lounge • Photo by Elliot Berlin
I almost forgot to listen to this this morning. Luckily I got to tune in to “Weekend Edition” in time to hear Marilyn be absolutely charming with Leane Hansen. Of course I knew this was going to air this morning. What I didn’t know was how nicely they would edit out all our “ums” and “ahs,” making us sound so comfortable and smooth. And Leane has a way of making one feel comfortable and smart, and yes, smooth. As Mo pointed out, the only thing missing was our best line. When Leane asked us if we thought we were on track for “fame and fortune,” I answered that we were just hoping to become “known and solvent.” It was a great experience. Take a listen on the NPR site.