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Saturday Is 'Chuck Brown Tribute Day' At Folklife Festival

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Master of ceremonies Chuck Brown speaks during a program to celebrate the legacy of the late Martin Luther King, Jr. Brown's own legacy will be celebrated Saturday at the Folklife Festival.
AP Photo/Nick Wass
Master of ceremonies Chuck Brown speaks during a program to celebrate the legacy of the late Martin Luther King, Jr. Brown's own legacy will be celebrated Saturday at the Folklife Festival.

This weekend, the Smithsonian Folklife Festival honors the late Godfather of Go-Go, Chuck Brown, with a daylong tribute on the National Mall, designating Saturday as "Chuck Brown Tribute Day."

Hip-hop artist Christon Christylz Bacon says it was Brown who inspired him to pursue music.

"I remember comprehending Go-Go as a kid with the song 'Go-Go Swing,'" says Bacon. "'It don't mean a thing if it ain't got that Go-Go swing.' And so we grew up banging on the buckets and trash cans and stuff like that, doing the rhythms of Go-Go."

Bacon, who earned the Grammy nomination for his work on a children's album called "Banjo to BeatBox" also plays the conga, guitar and spoons during his performances at the festival.

He also attributes the diversity of the instruments he plays to the God-father of Go-Go.

"And the dope thing about Chuck Brown is he mixed so many different worlds together. Like, he mixed the Conga rhythm with the [Tomballo] rhythm from latin American music, simplified over the top of the Go-Go beat," says Brown. "And then Chuck Brown taking old jazz standards and blues repertoire and introducing that to the youth."

The tributes include musical performances, an hour-long fitness workout to the sounds of go-go, and storytelling on the history of go-go and Brown's music career, accord At least three bands will perform, including Cold Hearted Band, No Question Band and Junkyard Band.

Saturday's musical tribute is free and open to the public. The special program starts at 11 a.m. and runs through 5:30 p.m.

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