The Wait's Finally Over
Rare Essence & Team Familiar
2135 Queens Chapel Road NE
Washington, DC, 20018
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 by the late Godfather of Go-Go, Chuck Brown.
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). 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 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 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.
They have performed with Run DMC, 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, Wale, Thievery Corporation, Clutch, KRS-1 not to mention Chuck Brown, Trouble Funk, The Junk Yard Band, & EU.
The Rare Essence catalog, on their own Rare One Records label, includes over 30 releases. Fans have bought and traded thousands of live P.A. recordings of their shows over the years. Rare Essence continues to feature such fan-favorite radio staples as “Lock It,” “Body Snatchers,” “Back up Against the Wall” and “Overnight Scenario.” Like any long-lived style of music, Go-Go has undergone changes over the decades but Rare Essence maintains and sustains its original sound and spirit. One of their album titles puts it best: “We Go On and On.”