Jazz musician departs from his usual style to honor the Godfather
This year will mark the sixth anniversary of the passing of one of Augusta’s most famous residents. On Christmas Day 2006, James Brown died. A lot of folks may recall that there was much pomp and circumstance surrounding his funeral. The arena was packed; celebrities came to town to pay their respects, and thousands of loyal fans descended upon the city to show Augusta how much they loved James Brown.
A few times since then, Coco Rubio, one of the owners of Soul Bar and Sky City, has tried to hold some sort of event around this time to commemorate the Godfather of Soul. This year, on December 28, another famous and well-respected Augusta musician, Wycliffe Gordon, will play Sky City in a concert titled, “A Funky Tribute to James Brown.” The event will not feature James Brown’s music exclusively, but the performance itself will be dedicated to honoring his memory and his contributions to music.
“It’s not really a James Brown tribute,” explains Gordon. “I have a funk band there and we’ll do some James Brown, but it’s not all James Brown. I just like to get together with some of my buddies from home — and some of the guys who will be playing did play with James Brown — but we play music in that style. There is a segment of the show that will be dedicated to James Brown, but it’s not a tribute concert. So, I just want to make that clear. We will do a segment and dedicate it James, and his great contribution to music at large… probably the whole second set.”
Most people who are familiar with Wycliffe Gordon probably only know him for his prowess as a jazz musician. He won’t be playing any jazz at Sky City, but he did mention jazz as another connection to James Brown.
“I won’t be playing any jazz at this show,” says Gordon. He quickly adds, “But James Brown, most people probably don’t know it, did a jazz record, a big band record. I just found out about it six or seven years ago. Not a lot of people know that he did that and that it is also part of his legacy… the album is classic, standard jazz tunes. Very few people know that.”
So, Gordon, who is known for mostly jazz, will be playing funk and Brown, who was known for his contributions to funk and soul, once cut a jazz album.
The concert will showcase an impressive line-up of backing musicians and at a $5 cover charge, will likely be the best entertainment in town that night.
“It’ll be after the holiday, maybe people just want to come out and have a good time, dance a little,” says Gordon. “I think it will be a fun show.”
A Funky Tribute to James Brown
Sky City | Friday, December 28
Doors, 8 p.m.; music, 10 p.m. | $5
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