Old-School Go-Go at the Hard Rock Cafe
Vocalist Gregory Elliott, best known as Sugar Bear, of the legendary go-go band EU (Experience Unlimited), started a Sunday night show at the Hard Rock Cafe by acknowledging the January babies in the house. "Happy Birthday to all the Capricorns!" Bear said, in a shout-out that recognized a few members of the audience, but more significantly the birth of Martin Luther King Jr.
EU, along with the all-female band Lady Rhythm, performed its concert in honor of the civil rights hero, with a portion of proceeds going to the Martin Luther King Jr. National Memorial Project Foundation, which is raising $100 million for a monument on the Mall.
The members of EU made a $1,000 donation, presented as an oversize check, but their biggest contribution to the cause was their big ol' sound.
A version of the Michael Jackson ballad "Butterflies" seamlessly incorporated bits of Stevie Wonder's "Superwoman" and rapper Mystikal's Cajun-spiced "Bouncin' Back (Bumpin' Me Against the Wall)." A horn section and congas mellowed out rapper Rich Boy's "Throw Some D's."
They got down to the good stuff with late '80s-early '90s material, including "Shake Your Thang," the 1988 Isley Brothers remake recorded with Salt-N-Pepa, and 1989's "Taste of Your Love." With Sugar Bear's yelping over smooth, more traditional vocals, the forceful R&B track stands as a precursor to the ubiquitous MC/singer collaborations of today.
The night ended, naturally, with the evergreen "Da' Butt," because no birthday party is complete without a little backfield in motion.
-- Sarah Godfrey