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March 16, 2000 - Image 19

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The Michigan Daily, 2000-03-16

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-12B -he Michigan Daily - kend, etc. Magazine - Thu ay, March 16, 2000 0



The Michiga~aily - Weekend,

Continued from Page 56
Theater audience captured on "Live at
the Apollo" make it clear even today the
"electric atmosphere present at an early
James Brown concert.
As the '60s progressed, Brown began
tinkering with his trademark R&B
sound, adding more complex rhythms
while maintaining the spirited gospel-
esque vocals that dominated songs like
"Try Me" and "Please, Please, Please"
This new, more sophisticateapproach
to rhythm and blues became known as
soul music and, befitting his role as an
Wnnovator of the style, Brown acquired

the now well-recognized nickname, the
"Godfather of Soul ."
After legal battles with his record
label for more artistic control, Brown
took good advantage of his newfound
recording freedom, placing an even
greater emphasis on defined
polyrhythms and jazz-derived horn
charts. His band acted very ruch like a
giant percussion ensemble, with each
instrument playing tight rhythms that, as
a whole, blended into an intricate web of
sounds. This approach to music was dis-
tinctively African in nature, and with it
Brown created an entirely new kind of
sound - the funk.
Brown's ever-evolving grooves were

both ahead of their time and essentially
groundbreaking for American music.
Songs like the hip-shaking "Papa's Got a
Brand New Bag, Pt.l" and "I Got You (I
Feel Good)" were some of the first
recorded examples of the funk sound
that would inspire a whole new genera-
tion of rock, jazz and soul musicians (an
interesting side note is that the bassist
featured on several of Brown's early for-
ays into funk - including the legendary
"Sex Machine" groove - was an 18
year-old upstart by the name of Bootsy
Collins, a musician who would revolu-
tionize the role of the bass in funk music,
first with Brown and later with George
Clinton and 'arhament Funkadelic).

During the later part of the '60s,
Brown was an unstoppable funk
machine, turning out hits that tapped into
a greater social consciousness while
never losing sight of the almighty
groove. Strong musical affirmations of
the African American lifestyle like "Say
It Loud (I'm Black and I'm Proud)"
made him a leading figure in the black
community. In fact, the night that Dr.
Martin Luther King, Jr. was killed in
1968, Brown convinced the mayor of
Boston to televise his concert across the
city in hopes of keeping rioters inside
their homes and off the streets.
Brown was a stern bandleader,
demanding only the best musicians for
his large, driving ensembles. As a result,
his sidemen went on to become some of
the biggest names in funk, including sax-
ophonist Maceo Parker, trombonist Fred
Wesley apd the funky drummer himself,
Clyde Stubblefield. The most famous
incarnation of Brown's backing band, the
JB's, was as tight a band as was ever
assembled and even recorded several
successful jazz-funk albums on its own.
The '70s were a tough period for
Brown, though, as the advent of disco

signaled a demise in his record sales,
while critics claimed that he possessed
no more original musical ideas. Brown's
understandably angry work on the
soundtrack to the blaxploitation flick
"The Payback" (featuring such lyrics as
"Don't do me no favor/I don't know
karate/But I know k-razor") was his last
notable success of the polyester decade,
and several years later Brown found
himself without a record contract.
Thanks to the rise of hip-hop, howev-
er, Brown witnessed a career resurgence
in the mid-'80s, as his song catalogue
became a popular source for sampled
beats (Brown's "The Funky Drummer"
is often cited as music's most frequently
sampled song). And in 1986, with
"Living in America," his contribution on
the soundtrack to the Sly Stallone film
"Rocky IV" Brown experienced a tri-
umphant return to the top of the pop
music charts.
As his career moves into the next cen-
tury, Brown is now widely hailed by
musicians and critics alike not only as
"Soul Brother Number One," but also as
the most influential African-American
musical figure of the rock 'n' roll era.

Godfather of Soul becomes city's rainakel

bringing in all kinds of performers."
The Festival, which runs from June 16
to July 9, features a variety of entertain-
ment diversions for summer residents of
Ann Arbor. From the open air Top of the
Park concert/film screening series to
Power Center performances by a wide
range of musicians, dance groups and
multicultural exhibitions, the Summer
Festival "really presents a little some-
thing for everyone,' Murdock said.
That type of multi-dimensional appeal
is something embodied in the music of
Brown, who, as the hardest working man
in show business, has amassed a record-
ing career spanning five decades and a
reputation as one of the most energetic
live performers ever to grace a concert
Born in 1933, Brown took a journey
to musical stardom as wearying at first

as the red-clay dirt roads
Georgia. Barely out of his

served a prison
sentence for
armed robbery in
the late '40s, but
it was during this
stint in jail that a
young Brown
began honing his
vocal chops in the
impassioned style
of gospel music.
Upon his parole,
Brown formed
his first singing
group, a gospel-
t u r ned - R & B
combo that would
eventually come to

be kn

Brown and the Famous FL

Courtesy ot Universal Attractions
There's still nobody who brings the funk like "Sweet" James Brown.

By Chris Kula
Whily Arts Editor
When the Ann Arbor Summer Festival
needed somebody to get up, get into it
and get involved, James Brown was the
man who got the call.
A true legend in American popular
music, Brown is the featured performer
for Saturday's "I Feel Good" Benefit at

Hill Auditorium, an event which, accord-
ing to Summer Festival marketing direc-
tor Colleen Murdock, is integral to the
Fest's summer-long activities.
"All proceeds from the concert go
toward funding different aspects of the
Summer Festival," Murdock said. "We
have a number of needs, from hiring stu-
dents to work as concessionaires to


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