Friday marks the release of "Go Go -- Live at the Capital Centre," a 100-minute video shot during October's "Tribute to Go-Go." That concert,the first time the Centre hosted an all go-go lineup, drew 14,000 kids for a nonstop blast featuring "the Godfather of Go-Go" Chuck Brown and the Soul Searchers, Rare Essence, Experience Unlimited, Little Benny and the Masters, the Junkyard Band, D.C. Scorpio, Go Go Lorenzo, and Hot, Cold Sweat. It was a problem-free night celebrating Washington's home-grown funk, which in recent months has been the focus of much media attention and proposed legislative restrictions because of a number of violent acts around several of the city's go-go clubs.
In that light, "Live at the Capital Centre" could provide the kind of PR go-go needs. "Believe me, those kids had a ball," says Carol Kirkendall of G Street Express Inc., the Washington-based production company that put on the concert. "You can see in the video -- they're all young kids, clean-cut, well dressed, out to have a good time. And it was a mixed audience, too."
The video, retailing for about $29.95, is the first product of a new company, CD Enterprises, and G Street Express, and will be released concurrently with a 90-minute sound-track cassette on I Hear Ya Records, a label run by Kirkendall's G Street partner, Darryll Brooks. A double album will be released in February with some extra cuts, including two from the Junkyard Band, whose synthesizers went out during the concert, and one from Rare Essence, which will recut a shorter version of "Go-Go Mickey." The audio recording was done by Sheffield and, says Kirkendall, "it's phenomenal, the cleanest and best sound that go-go's ever had."
On the video side, "Live" should go a long way toward expiating the sins of "Good to Go," the ill-fated film about Washington's go-go scene that did nothing to capture the music's constant pulse or communal spirit. Much of the credit goes to producer Pat Clark, and especially to director Sheldon Shemer, who directs the Centre's coverage of the Capitals and Bullets games and did more than 500 concerts on the Telscreen before leaving Capital Centre nine months ago to become an independent producer.
"When I do sports, it's a live situation and I don't like to look back," Shemer says of his facility for doing a live video mix under extreme pressure. "I do it as it feels, and it usually works. And I've done enough concerts to know what's going on."
Some of Shemer's previous work has shown up on television, including Prince's concert version of "Purple Rain," shown six times a day for three months on MTV. For the go-go shoot he used four cameras -- "usually they use two" -- and "the best cameramen" and fought for control over the lighting. "Often you can't see anybody unless you're in the audience because TV cameras won't work under 50-foot candles and they usually go with 25-foot candles. We used 200-foot candles and star filters on everything," and the results are spectacular.
"Go Go -- Live at the Capital Centre" will be featured on BET and on Channel 9's "Music Video Connection" the next two Fridays. There are also in-store appearances by various bands scheduled for Friday and Saturday. On Friday at 3:30 p.m. EU, Rare Essence and Little Benny will be at Douglas downtown; at 5 p.m. the same crew, plus Hot, Cold Sweat and the Junkyard Band, will be at the Wiz at Iverson Plaza. On Saturday Chuck Brown and the Soul Searchers and D.C. Scorpio will appear at three Video Channel outlets -- at Waterside Mall in Southwest at 2:30, on Georgia Avenue at 4:30 p.m. and at the Shrimpboat at East Capitol and Benning Road at 5:30. That night, all the performers will be signing autographs at Madness Connection on Georgia Avenue.
National Jazz Jazz is now officially "a rare and valuable national American treasure." Last week the Senate approved a resolution, first introduced by Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.) in April, "recognizing jazz as the true and original art form of the African-American experience." The House of Representatives passed the resolution in September, and the Senate bill, sponsored by Alan Cranston (D-Calif.), passed last Friday. The "treasure" designation reflects the sense of Congress that "we should devote our attention, support and resources to make certain it is preserved, understood and promulgated."
Now that jazz has received Congress' attention, the challenge will be to provoke support and resources. What's needed is a stable level of public and private funding, such as greater jazz grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, and additional government support, such as the half-million dollars provided to the Smithsonian to acquire the Duke Ellington collection. With the proposed Thelonious Monk Center for Jazz Studies scheduled to open here sometime in the next few years and talk of a National Center for Jazz Studies being located here (there's also talk about a possible merger), Washington could come a long way to realizing Conyers' hope that his resolution "will serve to inspire jazz artists and listeners across the nation to promote the ever-widening performance and increased study of this music."