Go-go bands don't play out as much as they once did, but as Chuck Brown & the Soul Searchers' Christmas show at Kilimanjaro revealed, both the players and fans of D.C.'s indigenous funk have retained a sturdy sense of community. From Brown's opening chitchat -- he finally started playing on a cue from the fans chanting "Wind me up, Chuck" -- to his pleas for young people to "put down the guns," Brown played his role as go-go's elder statesman.
But, of course, Brown is go-go's "godfather" because he's the music's originator, and Tuesday night his Searchers, fleshed out by the P-Funk Horns, were in top form. Brown has long melded smooth jazz arrangements over go-go's abrupt percussion to great effect, and Tuesday he alternately rasped spirited chants or cooed through relatively mellow adaptations of jazz standards.
Though he played songs from his new album, Brown seemed to favor his older material, constantly improvising to keep things fresh. A version of the Ohio Players' mid-'70s hit "Skin Tight" was prolonged by rubbery bass lines, but most turns weren't as predictable: The jazzy "Go-Go Swing" was interrupted by a rap sequence. And it wasn't long before Brown was joined by Trouble Funk's Big Tony for some familiar TF chants, Christmas chestnuts and personalized holiday greetings.