600 14th St NW
Washington, DC, 20005
Doors 7:00 PM / Show 8:30 PM
This event is 21 and over
Rare Essence, Washington’s premier Go Go band for more than four decades is a DC institution that has built a devoted fan base that spans multiple generations, drawn to the indigenous funk sired in the mid ‘70s bythe late Godfather of Go-Go, Chuck Brown.
Rare Essence would be one of Brown’s earliest, and have remained his most enduring progeny, with a consistently combustible live show honed through countless performances in the Washington region. Go-Go thrives live and that’s where reputations, and legacies, are cemented. As the Washington Post noted in a 2010 review, “....this band has performed more than 5,000 times. Like so many Rare Essence concerts, it’s easy to believe you’re seeing the best one.”
Little wonder they were dubbed “The Wickedest Band Alive” by rap pioneer Doug E. Fresh, who has collaborated with Rare Essence, one of many artists to incorporate Go Go's percolating percussion, and some of its key players, into their own recordings.
Rare Essence first came together in 1976 when a group of elementary students at St. Thomas Moore Catholic School in Southeast Washington gathered after school and started playing the then new, as yet unnamed, music (Go-Go’s breakthrough chart topper, Brown’s “Bustin’ Loose,” was still three years away). The band was kept on track by several no-nonsense moms. Drummer Quentin “Footz” Davidson along with guitarist/vocalist Andre “Whiteboy” Johnson, bassist Michael “Funky Ned” Neal and trombonist John “Big Horn” Jones and, calling themselves the Young Dynamos, jammed on Top 40 hits by that era’s funk and soul masters, earning their initial show stripes on the city’s recreation center circuit.
Changing its name to Rare Essence, the band expanded its lineup and as teens started playing on a thriving Metro Go-Go circuit that included Maryland and Virginia. They built a huge following, and a reputation as one of the city’s top Go-Go bands, through spirited battles with the likes of Chuck Brown, Trouble Funk, Junk Yard and EU (Experience Unlimited), putting on marathon shows that might run until 5 a.m., stacked sets seamless and unending. Rare Essence quickly developed into the city’s most powerful Go-Go band, performing six to seven nights a week.
The 1987 video “Go Go Live at the Capital Centre" captured the first time that venue hosted an all go go lineup, with Rare Essence, Chuck Brown, EU and others drawing 14,000 enthusiastic fans to what was then the area’s largest concert and sports arena. Rap stars learned early on the dangers of sharing a bill with Go Go acts and their big live band energy.
Over the years, many great musicians have been part of Rare Essence, with several going on to form their own bands, including Little Benny and the Masters. A 30th anniversary concert featured close to 30 musicians associated with the band.
They have performed with Run DMC, Wale, DJ Kool, LL Cool J, Doug E. Fresh, Biz Markie, Ice Cube, Heavy D and the Boyz, Wu Tang Clan, Redman and Method Man, French Montana, Scarface, TLC, Eric B and Rakim, YoYo, Shabba Ranks, The Roots, Erykah Badu, Thievery Corporation, KRS-1 not to mention Chuck Brown, Trouble Funk, The Junk Yard Band, & EU. While no two shows are alike, music lovers new to the Go-Go experience and Rare Essence sound will quickly feel at ease among an allegiance of loyal fans chanting along to hits like “Lock It,” “One On One,” “Hey Buddy Buddy,” and the ever popular “Overnight Scenario,” which is covered by Fantasia all over the country.
Also lovingly known by fans as RE, “The Inner City Groovers”, or Essence (if you are from DC), you can’t help but know who “The Wickedest Band Alive” is and that you gotta be there to experience the party in person!
Washington D.C. is the birthplace of this exciting and diverse all-female band, founded in September 2007, managed by John Agurs. The high-energy concert style presentation and dynamic musicianship exuded on stage are incomparable. Their unique style of Funk, Jazz, R&B and Rock commands audiences and the meshing of the raw talents possessed by these seasoned musicians captivates all who see them perform. Individually, the breadth of experience of each band member ranges from formal training in jazz, classical, opera, gospel, and R&B, to touring and performing with artists such as Nile Rodgers, Regina Belle, Pieces of a Dream, Chaka Khan, Chuck Brown, High Five, Sugar Bear & EU, Salt & Pepa, Stephanie Mills, Michael Bolton, Elton John and many others. Collectively, Be’la Dona has had the pleasure of performing with Erykah Badu, Vivian Green, Avery Sunshine, KeKe Wyatt, Algebra Blessett, Melanie Fiona, Estelle, Rah Digga, Lil Mama, Goapole, Marsha Ambrosious, Chico DeBarge, Chrisette Michele, Howard Hewett, Case, Kurtis Blow, Doug E. Fresh, Biz Markie, Tony Terry, Tanya Blount and Chuck Brown, as well as having the distinct honor of serving as the house band on the Tom Joyner Fantastic Voyage Cruise in 2014 and being deemed the official band for Beverly Bond’s, “Black Girls Rock Tour”, in 2011.
Be’la Dona has been twice nominated for DMV Awards and has been awarded “Best Up and Coming Band” by Go-Go Coalition in 2009, “Best Urban Contemporary Group” by Washington Area Music Association (WAMA) in 2010, “Best Go-Go Duo or Group” by WAMA in 2011, 2012 & 2014, and “Best Female Band/Duo Group” by Titan Awards in 2014. The “magic” of Be’la Dona Band rests in a combination of dynamic leadership from their Musical Director, Sweet Cherie, who has been awarded “Instrumentalist of the Year” six years consecutively by WAMA and the diversity exemplified in their talent, as well as personal lives. While the name Be’la Dona means “pretty lady”, these women are so much more. They are mothers, wives, civic leaders and activists, business women, educators, and mentors who take their responsibility to serve as role models to girls and women as seriously off the stage as they do while performing. Musicianship, showmanship, leadership, high-energy stage performances, beauty, and integrity, are the foundation of their drawing power. Be’la Dona captivates the crowd and propels the power of womanhood to the forefront. This is the band you have been waiting for!
$25.00 - $35.00
For any wheelchair or ADA needs, please contact the Box Office in advance of the performance at (202)-769-0122.