Wednesday, January 31, 2007

American Idol in B-Ham: The Beat-Down

Birmingham, Alabama (B-Ham for short) is home to the most American Idol finalists. For this year's auditions, a whopping 20 people were granted golden tickets to fly to Hollywood.

B-Ham's ocean of singers made the NYC talent pool look like an inflatable device.

Can't say any of them stood out as the next Idol, but 17-year-old Tatiana of Atlanta was a judge favorite. Another 17-year-old, Jamie from Reidesville, North Carolina, had a decent voice but a great back story. The teen singer cares for her paralyzed father, who shot himself and his ex-wife after finding his ex in bed with another man. The judges passed her on to the next round almost because of the sob story.

The story of B-Ham was the number of closet freaks, and two definitely stood out. Margaret of Atlanta tried to play herself off as 26-years-old, but after some prodding from the judges, she revealed her true age: 50! How's a girl going to play off being twice her age on American Idol? Even if she could sing (which she couldn't), how could you not notice the sagging bags under her eyes and obviously dated style choice (what 26-year-old wears bright yellow felt gowns?).

B-Ham native Brandy, 28, got the worst of the deal. Coming in with confidence, she thought she'd win the judges over with the Madonna classic "Like A Virgen." Wrong. Then, she did that fatal Idol move - dancing to make up for a lack of singing talent.

As the judges dissed her, she pleaded her case. "Maybe it's the floor or something?" And she was dead serious.

After embarrassing herself on the carpet (!) with more terrible singing, she went outside and basically put Simon and Randy on blast. When Randy came outside (probably to incite more trash talk) she called him a "faker" and demanded him to "take your fat ass on back in there!" Randy was amused and stunned at once. It's probably been a minute since someone told him that to his face.

Of the B-Ham hopefuls, the most interesting was 28-year-old Chris from Greensville, South Carolina. Dude seriously looked like a taller, heftier version of Jack Osbourne (of "The Osbourne's"). Thick, black-frame glasses, long curly hair, and a say anything suaveness that fronted a self-assured confidence.

Young Chris immediately won the judges over when he said "I want to make David Hassellhoff cry." Once he started to sing, he had skills! Who knew Ozzy Osbourne's son could sing so well?

I don't know if they're foreshadowing in these Idol auditions, but the camera spent quite a bit of time with Chris, which makes me think he could get far in the competition. If B-Ham produces back to back Idol winners (even though Chris isn't from Alabama, he did audition there), it could solidify it's spot as the most talented city in America.

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Monday, January 29, 2007

Dream Girls: The Beat-Down

I finally got around to seeing Dream Girls this weekend (as part of my annual Oscar screening expedition). Even though it's not nominated for best pic, I was eager to catch it before it left theatres.

More importantly, in keeping with my American Idol theme, I wanted to see if all the fuss about Jennifer Hudson's performance was warranted. I didn't catch any episodes of season 4 (when she lost to Fantasia Barrino), but judging from the movie, it was AI, and not Hudson, who caught the L.

Point blank, the girl is a star, bordering super (her Oscar win should solidify this). To borrow a co-worker's assesment, it's like watching a young Aretha Franklin.

In watching the sixth season, I wonder if there's any contestant who can even come close to matching the acting and vocal skill Ms. Hudson displayed in the movie. One thing about AI, they manage to find extraordinary talent.

If someone like Hudson was just hanging out before she was discovered on the show, it makes you wonder who else is out there waiting to be discovered.

Oh yeah, and go see Dream Girls. Hudson is the absolute truth.

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Friday, January 26, 2007

American Idol, Week 2: The Beat-Down

Something tells me that Simon is into this sort of thing

The New York auditions for American Idol brought more of the same results audience members have come to expect: humiliating verbal beatdowns, angst-ridden psychodrama, and the emergence of a potential star or two.

There were obvious jokes, like Fania, the Mediteranean singer/dancer who looked like a reject from "My Big Fat Green Wedding." There was Ashanti, who twice made the Hollywood cut only to fall short. This time, she didn't even make it past the main panel.

In pleading with Simon, Paula and Randy, she delivered a wrenching monologue, capped off with "I believe in the depths of my soul, I am right." Sorry, girl, but no, you're not, was the look on the judges faces.

The one thing the New York auditions were heavy on was the dramatics. Ashanti's tortured speech aside, there were several heart-string tugging sobfests, some good, some quasi-tragic, some downright scary. Among them:

- 19-year-old Sarah Burgess had to sneak away from her disapproving parents to audition. She was redeemed when she tearfully phoned her dad to tell him she made it to Hollywood. A good portion of the phone conversation was edited out, which makes you wonder what her father's full response was.

- Sweethearted Nakia, who got a good initial reaction with the Marth and the Vandells anthem "Dancing in The Street," but turned off the judges with her turn on the Selena standard "Dreaming." Heartbroken from her rejection, she whimpered "Sometimes you get tired of hearing no," as if she's been hearing it all her life.

- Immediately following Nakia was straw-hat wearing Sarah, who baffled the judges withe her utter lack of singing talent. She readily admitted that she had no singing talent, affirming "I think you don't have to sing to be on American Idol." Judges quickly pointed to the pictures of Grammy winners and previous winners to illustrate their common trait: they all could sing. Sarah went into a frightening fit, screaming that the judges had been drinking until 3 a.m. the night prior.

While there were the crazy moments, there were a lot of talented folks as well. Trashy yet talented Porcelena won the judges over with her smokey voice and unique look; 19-year-old Antonella of New Jersey diplomatically shared that she thought her friend was better singer because she was trained, when in fact Antonella was by far the more talented; and Nicholas, a New Yorker who quit season 5 a few weeks into the show, gamely took a second shot and was rewarded with a ticket to Hollywood. If he can remember his song lyrics (which kicked his butt last season), he could go far.

Of the loaded NYC talent pool, probably none stood out more than 18-year-old Rachel, a confident, metal-mouth opera singer dressed up in a colorful ensemble (her outfit looked like a cross between Janis Joplin and Rainbow Bright). She was big on both voice and character.

She sang a range of old soul (which channeled Joss Stone) and opera. She got an easy ticket, but she may need to grow into that persona she's created for herself - and lose the braces.

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Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Rage is Back For The Dough

Sometime at the end of 2000, the revolution of contradiction died. Rage Against The Machine called it quits.

It was a tragic breakup amongst my people, the performance art/activist set that prayed at the altar of Rage, went to the shows, bought the CD's, and uniformly yelled "Fuck You I Won't Do What You Tell Me" on command, whenever the crescendo to "Killing In The Name" blasted through the speaker, on the one, Mayan/Mexica. We dutifully raged along with the song, with absolutely no sense of irony.

Once the band broke up — my theory: the egos of lead singer Zach De La Rocha and lead guitarist Tom Morello were too huge to contain in one group —it was lights out for the movimiento. One that included college student activists and frat boys, Zapatistas and Marxists, united by a band who spewed anti-corporate messages while signed with one of the worlds largest conglamorates, Sony Music.

It was announded over the weekend that the band would re-unite for a one-time only gig at the Coachella Valley Music Festival in April. I was immediately excited. The revolution was reborn. We would all get one more chance to yell "Fuck You, I Won't Do What You Tell Me" at De La Rocha's command. Maybe now they'll impeach Bush and elect Hugo Chavez!

Or, maybe, just maybe, the lure of a huge payday for the band was too good to pass up. Morello, drummer Brad Wilk and bassist Tim Commerford achieved a large measure of success with their group Audioslave (led by singer Chris Cornell of Soundgarden fame). Meanwhile, De La Rocha has been playing in Jarocho garage bands and hanging out with Zapatista leader Subcommandante Marcos since the breakup.

It's hard not to consider the possibility that maybe, just maybe, de la Rocha's getting back together with the band for financial reasons. When you get down to brass tax, the organizers of the three-day event stand to make millions upon millions on ticket sales alone. It's probably no thing for them to shell out a couple million to each band member.

That measure of doubt is the only thing that sullies my enthusiasm for the show. Don't get me wrong, I plan on being first online to buy tickets when they go on sale this weekend. I imagine the few single-day tickets for the Sunday show will sell-out in a few minutes. This is shaping up to be a monumental reunion.

I just sometimes wish the band wasn't seeped in so much obvious contradiction, even if it is justifiable. So what if de la Rocha is funneling money to the EZLN, or Morello is hooking up Mumia Abu Jamal's books in lock up. I can't help but wonder if this reunion is solely about the money.

Call it the "Mortgage Against the Machine" reunion.

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Monday, January 22, 2007

American Idol Season 6 - The Beat-down

There are train wreck spectacles on television that make you grit your teeth in quiet pain, and then there are the emotionally wrenching trainwrecks that make you squirm in agony. Those catastrophic moments were aplenty during the sixth season, opening audition episodes of American Idol.
Yes, I am probably the billionth blogger to post on American Idol, the American pop-culture juggernaut that debuted its sixth season last week. This is my first time paying any significant amount of attention to the most popular show on American television, so I figure I might as well join the rest of the bloggers who compusively write about the show. I have watched a few episodes in the past, and became particularly intrigued toward the end of last season. It wasn't appointment television, but it was close.
This year, I figured it would be fun to watch the season, post thoughts, and basically play along at home. A few talking points on what I saw last week:
- The festivities kicked off with a bang in Minneapolis, where a young female who idolized the singer Jewel got her dream: a chance to audition in front of her idol. Of course, the female Idol contestant was no good, and Jewel was forced to tell her she didn't have "it." The girl walked away with tears in her eyes, seeking consolation from her family and boyfriend. Quality television, for sure.
- The most hysterical scene involved a young African-American woman who couldn't get the lyrics down to the song "Kiss" by hometown hero Prince. As she fumbled her words, she attempted to compensate with a series of awkward dance moves that ended with her kneeling on the ground. Not a good look.
- One girl who must have been a big hit in her high school production of "The Wizard of Oz" tried to win the panel over with her rendition of the cowardly Lion's solo, complete with guttaral lion growls. Her growl sounded more akin to Chewbacca of Star Wars fame.
- The guy in the sailor suit and receding hairline won over the judges big time, proving one theory for success: balding guys in military uniform with halfway decent talent earn big points.
- The Seattle auditions were particularly awful. I was worried that no one was going to be selected. The auditions were saved by a 6-foot-5 black girl who could blow with the gale force of a Northwestern wind storm.
- It was hard to say who I felt most sorry for, but I'm pretty sure it was the skinny white guy who claimed to be a vocal coach. Randy Jackson stripped him down to the bone with the line "I would not pay money take lessons from you." You know dude is unemployed and looking for work in the want ads right about now.
- The narrator kep setting up the fact that Seattle was chock full of weirdos, but I wasn't prepared for the burly, bearded, red-head who was confident his falsetto would knock everyone out the box. When he started singing, his voiced had more cracks than a pound of cocaine and baking soda in the kitchen.
- The rock star guy who went on last during the Seattle tryouts deserves to go to the top 12 of the guys. He displayed the most talent of any of the contestants to this point, and he has the look to go along with it.
- As bad as everyone in Seattle was, I have to admit, I could never bring myself to audition for American Idol. It takes a special kind of masochist, I mean, person, to get in front of the camera, before a nation of millions, and suck grapefruits with confidence.

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Monday, January 15, 2007

Mistah FAB Live in Santa Cruz

I picked Keak Da Sneak's Santa Cruz show in February, 2006 as my favorite live show of the year for one reason: energy.

The vibe of that night was unmatched, as more than 900 crazed lunatics filled the Catalyst with a sonic swell of good vibes, dancing, stunting, and going dumb until the walls started to sweat. The top pick was a no-brainer.

So Saturday night's Mistah FAB show came with a lot of anticipation on my part. I wanted to know if FAB could match the frenetic chaos of that Saturday night in February. FAB's show was sold-out well in advance, so the crowd was going to show up. It was all on FAB's husky shoulders to deliver.

Replete in an airbrushed XXXL white-tee — the colorful, detailed design centered on wicked looking yellow bus driven by the late great Mac Dre — FAB showed up promptly for his 10 p.m. set time to a heroe's welcome. Opening act Ashkon did a serviceable job of warming up the crowd, but there was no question who the audience was there to see.

FAB came out to the Jim Jones single of the moment "We Fly High," and then switched up into his regional interpolation "Stupid, Dumb ,Hyphy," which borrows elements of Dem Franchise Boyz "Lean Wit It..." The crowd instantly went into full-hyphy mode, dancing with a reckless abondon not unlike prisoners rioting in the yard. A fight actually broke out, the bouncers having a tough time of separating the two females engaged in hand tohand combat (that was the only incident of the night, luckily).

The thing I like most about FAB is he can rap, flat out. A reformed backpack rapper who was smart enough to use his skills to write hook-friendly radio songs and hood anthems that didn't compromise his craft, FAB dug deep into his catalogue to serve up underground favorites. His revision of Young Joc's "It's Goin' Down," was a Yay Area jack move, and that's a good thing.

Another local fav, "Metros and Chirpers," kept the energy going because FAB can rap about anything and keep heads nodding.

One of the highlights of FAB's set was the endless pool of regional remixes he's figured in. Northern Cali anthems like The Wolfpack's "Vansn" and Hoodstars "Grown Man On" were flipped so FAB could spit his 16, which brought a nice, all-encompassing vibe to the set.

As the night progressed, FAB seemed to get aggitated, although it was hard to tell exactly why. At one point, he called out his hype man for caring more about talking to his homies on stage than performing. At another instance, he was visibly upset when his Thizz Nation cohorts PSD and J-Diggs took the stage to perform a mini-set.

But FAB recovered to engage the crowd with not one, but two freestyles. The first was a stream of consciousness rant that skipped over three different beats and lasted about five minutes. When the DJ mistakenly threw on a Beyonce beat, FAB demanded the track be cut but continued to freestyle. This guy can go for days.

The latter portion of the show was all about his hits. Starting with the Too Short collab "Side Show," FAB brought the house down one joint at a time, like a veteran showman. His street anthem "Super Sik Wit It" had the floor shaking, as the crowd chanted the "Scraper, Scraper" chorus to glorious effect. The stage was set for FAB's biggest hit, "Ghostride It," which he performed not once, but twice. The mindless posturing of the crowd mixed with its insidious energy promped FAB to perform the song twice, the second time with him in the crowd.

FAB ended the set with a well-intentioned, heartfelt freestyle that featured a lot of meaningful wordplay about why he does what he does. He rapped about doing it for Mac Dre, Jam Master Jay, and all of hip-hops fallen soldiers. He rapped about being blamed for the deaths of two people who were killed while ghostriding, the dangerous car stunt he celebrates in his hit single.

Most of all, he rapped about his love for his art, his people and himself, which was a perfect way to end the set. He went about five minutes over his time limit, but I don't think even the sound guys minded, as they allowed him to complete the acapella rap.
The energy of the night demanded closure, and FAB delivered.

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Friday, January 12, 2007

The Beat Q&A: Mistah FAB

Mistah FAB addresses the dangers of ghostriding in this interview that ran Jan. 11 in The Monterey Herald:

Where are you at now?
I'm on Mars

Where's that, out in Oakland?
Naw, on Mars

Mars, the planet?
Yeah, i'm broadcasting on satelite (laughs)

I'm all Mars? Oh yeah, I know that street in Oakland...
Yeah, I'm in Oakland

First off, thanks for taking time to talk to the Beat and the Monterey Peninsula readers.
I appreciate that. I got a strong fan base out there. I can't let them down.

You came to the Peninsula last year?
I was out there at the Monterey Car Show. I just love Monterey. Monterey is the city you take a girl and she thinks you took her somewhere far. You give her a valium so she goes to sleep when she get in the car. You wake her up when you get to Monterey and she thinks she in like paradice, it's so pretty. The water, take her to the aquarium and stuff. It's a beautiful city. I love it.

And you're out here on Saturday in Santa Cruz
The Catalyst. That's one of my favorite spots to be.

First thing I wanted to ask you was about the new album coming out. Is that still slated for release in March?
The end of March. It's going to be a crazy album. I got a lot of people on there. I got myself on there. It's gonna be pretty hot, The Yellow Bus Rider. It's gonna be something that the fans have been yearning for, some good music on an all around note.

I read that you are thinking of making it a double album, with one side street music and one side more conscious, hip-hop stuff?
The idea is definitely looming around in my mind. It's up to me and my team what we want to do and how we want to market it, what vibe do we really want to go with. We don't want to oversaturate ourselves. At the end of the day, we want to give the fans what they've been wanting, and that's good music from both sides.

It looks like 2007 will be a breakout year. The single “Ghost Ride the Whip” won't stop on the radio?
Ghost ride the whip is definitely, not only on the radio, it's getting a lot of political views from higher-ups who feel that I'm responsible for people ghost riding and injuring themselves. It's sparking a lot of controversy. Anytime you have controversy in music, that's actually good because that keeps you current in the minds of people and they continue to talk about you.
My momma always told “When they stop talking about you, that's when you get worried.” As long as I can continue to keep the conversation going, it's definitely going to work in our favor.

For the unitiated, can you give a brief explanation of what Ghost Riding is and the dangers involved?
Ghost Riding is a car stunt popularized in the streets of Oakland that has spread out to many different places now. What it is, is, you come to a complete stop in your car, you
exit the automobile and you put the car either in neutral or you let it roll in drive —under 10 mph, no faster than that.
The purpose of having the car was for the flamboyant, flashy, like-to-show-off type. You got a new car and you want to show off and you feel like people aren't looking at you, and you want to do something to gain their attention. When you get out your car and you're walking and dancing on the side of your car, everybody's going to be looking at you like “Whoa.”
You're definitely showing off your car, showing off your style, and you drive off. That was the purpose of it, like you just rolled down the window and just like “Hey look at me look at me!” It's definitely a ”Look at me” stunt.

Do you ever caution people just on the dangers of ghost riding? How do you address that professionally and personally?
Wrong is wrong and right is right. A person has to be able to look at something like ghost riding and realize it's not always the right thing to do. Like we said earlier, location has a lot to do with it. We haven't been given any opportunity to do this in a controlled environment yet. Ghostriding, the stunting itself, we're not saying it's right and we agree with it, but we're also saying that if it was put inside of an arena, if it was in a controlled environment it would be very successful and lucrative.

People realizing the dangers of it, the fact you're getting out of a moving automobile weighing over a ton, anything can go wrong. At the end of the day, that's at yourown rsk. To answer the question, that's what I put out there.
I'm not telling you to Ghostride if you don't know how or forcing you do to do it. You do it at your own risk. But be conscious and aware of the dangers that come with it. Anyone that's doing things, they should be responsible for their own actions and be responsible for anything that comes with it, the repurcussions that come with it.

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Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Dubwize: Ambassadors of the Salas Sound

Next week, the members of Salinas reggae band Dubwize will set course for Puerto Rico, where they will stay for a month, play gigs and basically do the whole band on the run thing.

They will do this as ambassadors of the Salinas sound, aka The Salas Sound, a variation of dub, reggae, punk and funk that is equal parts War, August Pablo, Sublime and Dr. Dre.

It's a good look for a young band that has emerged as this as the front runners of this as yet undefined Salinas dub/reggae sound. Dubwize lit the flame, bands like Cali Nation and Wasted Noise taken the torch and passed it to the left hand side.

For folks that have known the band since it began almost 10 years ago, it's a point of pride to watch it's members reach their full potential.

The most exciting thing to watch has been the consistency of solid grooves and evolving live performances. Lead singer/bassist Mony Lujan has humbly ascended the ranks of young Salinas musicians, his talent taking him to different places with his own band and as a guest musician with other acts. Drummer/co-band leader Rasta Jon is the backbone of the group, musically and otherwise.

Founding member Steven Sagrero plays the keyboard like a maestro, while guitarist Juan Ramos Jr. skanks it up with the best of them. Skinner Dread, the melodica-playing, party starting firecracker, provides the band with it's endearing soul.

Add the fiery horn section of Barry Capiux and Jason Miltz and you have a full-scale reggae assault.

The band's very existence seems to defy a certain East Salinas logic, the section of town where the band originated. The slow-grooving, bass-heavy reggae rhythms are not the first thing one might expect to hear from Alisal High School graduates. The sight of a dread-locked Chicano frontman rocking out with black, white and brown band members is indeed a very cool thing.

But in Salinas, the sound of the street is the sound of the island, and it makes sense. Salas could qualify as a rural Trench Town, the storied ghetto yard that Bob Marley glorified in his music. In Dubwize, you have a band of wailing souls trying to slow down babylon, i.e. gangsta mentalities, low-income families, class division and political sand bagging that is prevalant in Salas Town.

Because of this, Dubwize has emerged as the unofficial spokesmen for a generation of Salinas youth, eager to bust out of the muck on its own terms. They will be given a heroe's sendoff this weekend when they perform at the American Legion hall, one of the few venues that allows live music in Salinas. The crowd will be young and irie, noisy and ruckus, all of the things that make Salas such a beautiful place.

Dubwize's music matches that beauty note for note, in a manner that only the true ambassadors of the Salas sound can.

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Monday, January 08, 2007

My Fantasy Hip-Hop Team

So my fantasy football season finished off last week, and I wound up a distant fourth place, well out of reach of any money but respectable enough to hope for a better season next year.

The end of the season has me feeling sad as I hand the commissioner my league dues, but it got me to thinking: who would be on my fantasy hip-hop team? What would the positions be, and who would my starting lineup be?

So, for your reading pleasure, here is my 2007 fantasy hip-hop lineup:

Mainstream MC - Eminem: My franchise player, a number one pick who can carry the team on his pale, narrow shoulders. Em may or may not release an album this year, but best believe his fantasy value would rival that of a Ladanian Tomlinson. Em's an all-purpose MC who brings skill, swagger, backstory and hustle to the table. Backup: Nas

Underground/Conscious MC - MC Zion: Oakland's finest is one of the most underrated in the game, and a late-round steal. He can work with his fellow underground stalworths (Aesop Rock, Grouch) or his native Oakland turf rappers (Balance, Mista FAB). He's got an ill voice that will get lots of finesse points and contribute steadily over the course of the rap season. Backup: Phonte of Little Brother.

Hustler/Rapper: T.I. - A top starter on any other team, T.I. runs the pivot as my hustle/rapper, aka trapper. The guy owns his own construction company, for crying out loud, when he's not dropping stellar 16s in the booth. T.I. is the flashy wide receiver who always gets fined for outlandish touchdown dance routines, but you can't argue with the results. Backup: Jay-Z

Gangsta Rapper: Brother Lynch Hung: On defense, you need someone who will scare the living bejesus out of the opposition. This Sac-Town veteran doesn't just write lyrics about bloody encounters with the living dead, he makes movies about it. One of the most morbid gangsta rappers on earth, period. Backup: The Game

Producer: Rick Rock - The Bay Area lieutenant has provided the music for everyone from E-40 to Jay-Z. His bomb squad meets Dre sound is not just the official boom bap for hyphy, but he is quickly becoming the Golden State's go-to-guy (Snoop enlisted Rick Rock for his latest album on the song "Candy"). He can coach the team to victory with his production skills. Backup: Hi-Tek.

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Tuesday, January 02, 2007

RIP Soul Brother Number One

In 1999, me and my friends, on a whim, took a road trip to Los Angeles to see James Brown. It was a Tuesday afternoon. We picked up one of my friends off the street and brought her along. It was that random.

At the House of Blues on the Sunset Strip, we waited for our inside guy, a tagger named Nuke, to sneak us in. We saw Ronald Isley walking to his car in front of a hotel. Across the street, Eddie Griffin was performing at The Comedy Store. It was the middle of summer, and LA was on full display. I was 21 years old, with 20 bucks in my pocket, if that, about to go to my first James Brown concert.

Our guy got us in through backstage, just in time to see the LA band The Blues Experiment, playing the biggest gig of their lives. Me and my friend Jesus and Victor hung out near the bar, drinking Bud Lights and figuring out what we were doing in Los Angeles, hundreds of miles from home, with no place to stay, on a weekday night.

Then James Brown's band came on stage, something like a 20-piece collective dressed in fancy suits. They played Sex Machine, and everyone went absolutely nuts. They played for a few minutes before the announcer introduced The Hardest Working Man in Show Business. At that point, the only people not dancing were the bartenders, and that was only because they had to work.

Brown wore a nail-polish red suit hair round as an astronaut helmet, dancing like a crazed lion. He was in his 70s, doing the splits, singing his guts out, leading his band. I'm not sure I had seen anything like it up to that point, and I felt lucky that I was old enough to realize how special that moment was back than.

Of course, the night was interesting for a lot of other reasons: I saw Dan Akroyd, one of the owners of House of Blues, parading around the crowd with a six-foot blond bombshell in each arm. I also scoped a seven-foot brother in a suit and thought it was Shaq. It wasn't, but I was still a little awestruck (I remember turning to my friend and saying "I gotta check this out!").

But most of all, I remember the godfather of soul, the inventor of rap music, the Soul Brother Number One, sweating up a storm in a loud suit and still managing to be the coolest thing for miles. He died last week, on Christmas Day, no less, quasi-tragic yet appropriate.

RIP James Brown. You left your mark on the world, and kept it moving to the beat at the same time.

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