Laurel resident returns to music scene

Laurel resident Valentino Jackson, lead guitarist of the go-go band Experience Unlimited, plays during a studio session for his new heavy metal funk band No Sins.
Laurel resident Valentino Jackson, lead guitarist of the go-go band Experience Unlimited, plays during a studio session for his new heavy metal funk band No Sins. (Chidinma Okparanta)

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By Chidinma Okparanta
The Gazette
Thursday, March 10, 2011

More than 20 years after gaining national fame as the lead guitarist for Experience Unlimited, a pioneering go-go group, Laurel resident Valentino Jackson now hopes lightning strikes twice with his newly resurrected heavy metal funk project, No Sins.

He is working with three other artists based in Prince George's County on songs for the project, which will be recorded in the county.

"It's a totally different type of music," he said. "Go-go has heavy percussion and chanting to get the audience to participate. This is rock 'n' roll."

Jackson, 55, who was born in the District, recalled holding a broom like a guitar at age 7 and playing along with bands on The Ed Sullivan show.

"It's back to my roots . . . back to my guitar playing," he said.

Jackson experienced go-go fame in 1988 when E.U.'s single, "Da Butt," was featured in Spike Lee's film, "School Daze" and topped the R&B singles chart.

But even as a member of a go-go band, he remained true to his rock roots when he played, he said.

"That's what made us stand out," he said. "That's what made Spike Lee take notice."

Go-go was formed in the mid 1970s by D.C. musician Chuck Brown. It is characterized by the use of extensive percussion, such as conga drums, cow bells and tambourines.

The majority of E.U.'s members left the band in the early 1990s, although Jackson and two other members still play occasional gigs and maintain a loyal following. In 2010, E.U. was inducted into the Go-Go Hall of Fame.

The annual Go-Go Awards are staged to honor singers, bands and DJs in the go-go community. Fans vote online to select winners, including inductees into the hall of fame. E.U. was one of three bands inducted in 2010.

Following the departure of many of E.U.'s members in the early 1990s, Jackson began work with a pop rock group, The New Youth Coalition - or The N.Y.C. - for which he plays lead electric and acoustic guitar and keyboard. The group's song, "Dance My Tears Away," received some radio play this year.


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