Tuesday, June 05, 2007

James Brown Tribute at the Goodfoot Lounge, Thursday May 3, 2007

this review was lovingly posted by AP KRYZA on the Willamette Week Local Cuts web page after our performance at the Goodfoot Lounge.

We, the band, had a lot of fun and sweat going that night, for sure. Hope you were there for it.

Thanks again to ideas man Neil Leeborg and the wonderful staff at the Goodfoot Lounge for backing the good impulses and ideas within the community, and their undying, unflinching support.

Photo courtesy of the internet.

May 8th, 2007 [2:55PM]

It was a scorching 100-degree day in a vast, treeless Tennessee field when I finally got a chance to witness a live performance by the Hardest Working Man In Show Business. The Apollo this wasn’t—the Bonnaroo music festival, an annual celebration of love and overflowing outhouses, is a mish-mash of hippies, hipsters and hash (over 70,000 people attended that year), and the dreaddy and dirty crowd was salivating for a glimpse of the Godfather himself.

The sun beat down like a plasma ball on the sweating crowd as JB’s band hit the stage. But James wasn’t there. His man-slave (every soul god has a man-bitch) barked into the mic about how the man himself was among us, and would be on the stage soon.
James Brown is and always has been larger than life, and any persona of that caliber deserves to be built up. The band blared, horns pumping the familiar riffs of “Sex Machine” and “Cold Sweat” as the anticipation built during a free form funk jam.

After 40 minutes of build-up, Brown hit the stage looking much like he did in his golden coffin—caked with makeup and looking like a rubber-coated, botoxed raisin.
But god damn this old man belted it out. For a solid 30 minutes, the Godfather blew through his catalogue with a vigor and tenacity that is absent in most senior citizens. He leapt, he screamed and he donned and discarded no less that ten capes—periwinkle, scarlet, blue and eventually platinum and gold.

And while he was just going through the numbers in the scorching Tennessee heat, JB captivated every member of the drug-addled young crowd.

Brown, who passed earlier this year, can’t really die. He is so ingrained in our culture that his spirit hangs forever. Rap, funk, soul. None of it would exist without JB, and every time a musician hits the high-hat on an off beat, JB is behind it. He changed music in a way no other person has. Fuck Elvis: James Brown’s political, sexual and machismo charm—and his all-too-human flaws— are ingrained in American culture as much as apple pie and passing the buck.

Thursday’s James Brown Tribute, which played out in the packed basement of the Goodfoot (a bar that takes its name from a JB classic) was appropriately scheduled on the late musician’s birthday, but it was also something of a posthumous wake. Pints clanged and beer poured as the Goodfoot All Stars (comprised of the bar’s regular musicians, including members of the Scott Law Band and the Piano Throwers) blasted through choice cuts of the JB catalogue. Nine musicians graced the stage, including a full four-piece horn section.

Wisely, the band kept the set instrumental on some of the tougher, vocally driven songs. “Cold Sweat,” which opened the set, and “Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag” were all instrumental, with the exception of Brown’s trademark grunts. The instrumental funk gave ample opportunity for gleeful keyboard, guitar and horn solos.

When it came time to belt out Brown’s nonsensical lyrical mayhem on songs like “I Got Ants in My Pants,” “The Payback” and “Soul Power,” local session drummer Carlton Jackson ably took to the mic, growling and grunting through each song and propositioning audience members on the immortal “Hot Pants.”

It was a celebration, and the band took exuberant joy in riffing on the classics. The set was comprised mainly of Brown’s funk catalogue, wisely straying from the slower and less danceable soul standards that started the singer’s career.

With sweating, gyrating audience members packed from wall to wall, every seat in the venue was empty, the dance floor crammed with crazy-legged dancers grinning through an extended, erogenous “Sex Machine.” Say what you will of Portlanders’ reluctance to dance. When James Brown’s music is playing, even the stiffest, most puritanical music fan can’t help but shake his hips.

The All Stars knew their shit, too: The tribute was a huge, masterful celebration of the career of the most influential funk- and soul-man of all time. Nary a beat was missed, and it’s quite a shame that, given Brown’s massive song list, this couldn’t happen more often. Brown may be gone. But, as was proven at the Goodfoot, his soul lives on in the dancing shoes of everybody.

1 Response to “James Brown Tribute at the Goodfoot, Thursday, May 3, 2007”

Clambeard says:
He’s called a hype-man, not a man-bitch and certainly not a man-slave. James Brown worked too hard for too long in a racist and segregated society to ever be associated with slavery in any form.

Second of all, soul would have existed without James Brown. It was already happening when his career took off.

But you are right when you say there would be no funk or rap without JB. Wherever someone is getting off on their good foot, James Brown lives.

Posted @ May 8th, 2007 at 5:43 pm


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