Mambo Sauce’s Black Boo on creativity and sustainability in go-go music


Black Boo of the D.C. go-go band Mambo Sauce. (Photo courtesy of Alfred Duncan)

Activist Ron Moten’s campaign to mobilize the region’s embattled go-go scene continues on Wednesday afternoon at the Prince George’s County Administration Building where he and other scene leaders will be speaking out against CB-18, a law that restricts illegal dance hall operations in Prince George’s County.

Many local musicians and promoters feel the law unfairly targets go-go music and the clubs that host it. Other members of the community have launched an online petition to have the law amended.

Meanwhile, Moten has been hosting a series of town hall-style meetings under the banner of D.C. M.U.S.I.C., a community group that aims to organize the go-go scene as a voting bloc. And to give the movement a soundtrack, he helped orchestrate “We’re Coming Out,” a new “voter’s anthem” that includes appearances from go-go vocalists Michelle Blackwell, Black Boo of Mambo Sauce and others.

This kind of tune is nothing new to Black Boo. Late last year, Mambo Sauce released “4G,” a song that took aim at the go-go’s various struggles with sustainability. We asked Black Boo how “We’re Coming Out” and “4G” are connected.

Late last year, Mambo Sauce released “4G” as a sort of wake-up call to the go-go community. What inspired the song?

We’ve been pushing for originality in go-go since the day that we started and I think that I was just getting a little frustrated that there weren’t enough people contributing to the originality [of the music]. Eventually, I got tired of going to meetings and voicing my feelings. Because I still wasn’t getting results. So I just decided to put it all in the music.

You’re also rapping on this new song that Ron Moten put together encouraging the go-go community to get out and vote. How did it come together?

I went to a meeting that he was having and they were talking about go-go and all of the things we could do in the future. He asked to meet with me and told me about some ideas he head. He was all for originality and we took it from there.

You’re talking about the originality in go-go music. Moten is fighting to get the music booked at local venues. Do you think those crises are linked?

Yeah, I think that it’s two fold. I hold go-go responsible as much as I hold [Prince George’s] county responsible. I think if go-go was more profitable, we wouldn’t be in this situation. And profit comes with us making go-go more marketable, more original. All of those things help us become more valuable to world in general. If we had fans across the nation, if bands were going on tour, if we were on billboards and if we were winning Grammys, there’s no way P.G. County could shut down these clubs. We’d have the money to fight back and the notoriety to get people on our side.

The last line on “4G” you say, “I’d rather say ‘Step up’ instead of ‘Go-go is dead.’” What do you think is going to happen to go-go music? Are people going to step up?

I think the people have been, to be honest with you. [Sunday] night on WKYS, DJ Big John [played a] one-hour set was all original go-go music. That was the first time it’s ever been done. It’s a big deal. People are hearing it. It’s not just my cry. Others feel the same way.

Chris Richards became the Post's pop music critic in 2009. He has covered D.I.Y. house shows, White House concerts, go-go and Gaga.
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