FRI SEP 13 at 8pm
SAT SEP 14 at 8pm
@Atlas Performing Arts Center
1333 H St, NE Washington, DC
With the support of the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, SpeakeasyDC and Atlas Performing Arts Center join forces once again, this time to premier Crank & Groove. Storytellers, musicians and dancers take us on a rhythmic journey with true tales of go-go’s past and present. Bring your cowbell and your dancing shoes, and get ready to crank and groove to go-go’s distinct blend of funk, rhythm & blues, hip-hop, and live percussion. Featuring some of the DC’s finest “go-go griots” and artists. Directed by Jess Solomon with Kato Hammond (www.tmottgogo.com go-go radio and magazine), Natalie Hopkinson (The Root), Patrick Washington ( Black Picasso of the POEM-CEES), DJ Mothershiester, Nina Angela Mercer (Playwright), Christylez Bacon (Musician, beatboxer and legendary spoon player) and Be’la Dona!(nation’s hottest all-female go-go band). Listen to Crank & Groove Mixtape (care of Black Picasso). Featuring photos by “photo laureate of DeeCee” Thomas Sayers Ellis.
About The Storytellers
CHRISTYLEZ BACON (pronounced: chris-styles) is a GRAMMY Nominated Progressive Hip-Hop artist and multi-instrumentalist from Southeast, Washington, DC. He will tell a true story about how he came to know and love go-go.
KATO HAMMOND is the Creator and Owner of TMOTTGoGo.com and TMOTTRadio.com. His history as a musician includes performing and recording with the go-go bands Little Benny and the Masters starting in 1988, and then with Proper Utensils starting in 1993. As well as worked within and for many other go-go bands during his 30 years in the industry. In 1996, he created TMOTTGoGo (Take Me Out To The GoGo) Magazine, and has been running it online ever since. He has also served as chairperson for history and archives for The GoGo Coalition.
NATALIE HOPKINSON (aka “NattyRankins” on Twitter) published her second book: “Go-Go Live: The Musical Life and Death of a Chocolate City” in June 2012—days after go-go legend Chuck Brown passed away. This elegy to the city’s chocolate era was a long time in the making: Years as a writer and editor at The Washington Post and The Root, and a Ph.D dissertation on go-go music from the University of Maryland. But way way before that, she was a lanky theater nerd with Asante Children’s Theatre in Indianapolis, one of several stops she made before arriving in D.C. in the early 1990s to go to Howard University. She is thrilled and terrified to be getting out from behind the safety of her keyboard.
NINA ANGELA MERCER -aka- Sweet Nee of North East -bka- Ms. Mercer, if you nasty, got her artist legs strong dancing for Marion Barry’s Summer Youth Employment Program’s Showmobile Program in the late 80′s, performing throughout all four quadrants of the city in the thick as mumbo sauce heat of DC summers. Her love for GoGo found her dancing on stage with EU at GoGo Live at the Capital Center to getting “Buckwild” and working with Spike Lee. She continues making art for the people as a playwright, conjuring stories in the GoGo tradition of resistance and ritual funk, and holding a firm stance like every DC Native better do in the crowd. Her plays have been performed from DC to NYC to Trinidad, and she’s brewing more in the woodshed. No ins and outs; it’s a life time love song.
PATRICK WASHINGTON (Black Picasso)- Back in the day he was known as Go-Go Grover. Used to wear Le Coq Sportiff sweatsuits and would iron creases into his jeans so sharp they’d cut you. Dug Chuck Brown, He-Man, Mantronix, X-Men comics & M.C. Shan. His weaknesses were sweet potato pie and girls named Nicole. Carried his love of music & language with him everywhere – from Marlboro Pike to Fulton Ave. From Okinawa Japan to Washington DC. From cardboard dance floors to the Kennedy Center stage. Still rocks with the now-legendary POEM-CEES – And it’s only halftime…
About the Director
JESS SOLOMON (DIRECTOR) sees Crank & Groove as a love offering to the city that shaped her creative, warrior-healer, cultural instigator, quirky self. Believing that the richest things happen in the connections, directing Crank & Groove with SpeakeasyDC has illuminated the magic at the intersections of generations, indigenous art and geographies in DC. Jess is working on her Hee Haw technique and is beyond infatuated with the cast and those who witness, testify and represent for the power of go-go music and culture!
About the Music
BE’LA DONA is the official band for the BLACK GIRLS ROCK! & SOUL TOUR backing up artists, Erykah Badu, Melanie Fiona, very Sunshine, Estelle, Goapole, Rah Digga, & Lil Mama. They have complied a very impressive list backing up artists such as Vivian Green, Howard Hewett, Chrisette Michele, Marsha Ambrosious, Chico Debarge, Chuck Brown and performing the hit song “DaButt” with Sugar Bear of EU. Be’la Dona has also been use as an opening act for Monica, Faith Evans, Kelly Price, Joe, Heatwave, Midnight Star and Maze featuring Frankie Beverly.
MOTHERSHIESTER’s go-go love story started in 2003 when she went to an outdoor festival headlined by Chuck Brown and fell in love with the music that reminded her of the Kenyan guitar and percussion rhythms she grew up with. When she is not listening to Radio CPR, Mothershiester is a sound designer, audio producer, turntable evangelist and dance floor imperialist. She believes that the revolution has always been now despite her cynical demeanor and that building media democracy is a way of life not a hobby. You can find her roaming through the concrete jungle of Washington, D.C. and beyond with her DJ Crew, Anthology of Booty (www.anthologyofbooty.com).
DJ ZOMBIE né Erica Childs is a long time lover of music and heavily inspired by banging beats and strong baselines. She’s been a long time loyal fan and supporter of go-go bands and music, with an exceptionally soft spot for the Backyard Band (BYB4L!– BYB for life). DJ Zombie has a been a frequent guest on the local party scene, sitting in as emcee and spinning go-go sets with the Anthology of Booty DJ Collective, and various other parties. She has presented DC/go-go PowerPoint/DJ lessons in the form of a dance party at the Annual Allied Media Conferences in Detroit, along with the DJ Geekout; and instructed young girls on the art of turntablism/DJ’ing with the Girls Rock DC organization. She’s a fun lover, motivated by grooves and dance moves, and always ready to cold rock a party…or crack a joke.
About the Dancers
DA ORIGINALZ organize frequent dance competitions, producing dance focused workshops and performing arts projects that showcase youth talent within the community and the Metropolitan Are with a focus on the “Beat Ya Feet” dance that was created by Marvin Gross AKA Slush of the Barry Farms community, located in the South East region of Washington DC. He gave birth to this dance style by fusing hand dancing movements with the Hee Haw, another native dance of the metropolitan area, created in the 90’s by the acclaimed Junkyard Band, also of the Barry Farms community.
Photo: ”Home Ruler” by Thomas Sayers Ellis, 2009
An interview with Chuck Brown