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January 21, 2009

Ladies and gentlemen ... James Brown!

james brownI recently found myself in Augusta, Ga., which, as it turns out, is the birthplace of legendary musician James Brown (pictured).

When I was in Augusta, I had lunch with Steven Uhles, an entertainment writer for the Augusta Chronicle (us journalists gotta stick together, ya know), who gave me the inside scoop on Brown.

Back in the day, Brown used to be the man about town, seeing movies and shooting pool at local bars. But he went out less and less in his later years (he passed away in 2006).

Uhles interviewed Brown a few times, and said it would always take him a while to figure out what Brown was actually saying. It was almost like Brown had his own dialect, Uhles said.

Thankfully, Augusta recognized Brown's contribution to pop music. There's a life-sized statue of the Godfather of Soul himself smack dab in downtown Augusta. At roughly 5'6," Brown was a fairly short dude, considering. But oh my what a scream he had.

Cooler still: You can stand by the statue, call a number on your cell phone, and the security camera will take your photo with the statue and post it on this Web site. How sweet is that? ...

Unfortunately, when Uhles showed me all this, the sign had disappeared, so I couldn't take advantage of it. I did get this shot of the Soul Bar, where Brown used to come shoot pool with his buddies.

the soul barHow awesome would it have been to hang out with James Brown? Almost makes me wish I grew up in Augusta. Almost.

One of my biggest regrets as a music writer is that I never got the chance to see Brown perform before he passed away. Lord knows, I had my chances. But I was always doing something else when he was in town -- or I never wanted to pay $50 to see him in a club.

Oh well.

At least I got to put my arm around James Brown -- even if it was only a statue of him.

(Top photo from Sun archives. Bottom photo by me)


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Posted by Sam Sessa at 11:54 AM | | Comments (6)
Categories: Random stuff
        

Comments

Sam,
I saw JB play the night before Memorial Day in '06 at Rams Head Live. When he came out on stage I couldn't believe it was him!! The hair, the bright red suit, the dancing girls, it was the whole package!! So glad I got to see him before he passed. I kept my ticket from the show, and framed it when he passed that Christmas.

No doubt, one of the greats of 20th century america. I really like this summary of his music chops:
http://www.scaruffi.com/vol1/brown.html
Reminds you what an amazing creative spirit he had. Guess part of the trouble of being a mad creative genius like that is that it can lead ya mad (women, violence, law issues)

"I don't know karate, but I know Crazy" Payback - James Brown

Saw him at Bonaroo 2003. He was still good, but band was pretty flat.

Call me silly..but i loved when James Brown sang Living In America in the Rocky4 Movie! I thought that was the best part of the movie!

we always try to "MAKE IT FUNKY" wherever me and my friends go.


R.I.P. James Brown.

i grew up in augusta and it's true, he was always out. i ran into him at Wendy's twice back in the early 90's. i have his autograph on a wendy's napkin! he was truly an amazing artist. i've seen him perform twice at close range. the show was full of energy. being short with distinguished facial feautures and makeup, he didn't even look real. augusta is definitely less soulful without him.

i first saw james brown on the "tammi" show back in the 60's. he was the highlight. appearing with the motown greats, rolling stones, chuck berry, leslie gore, jan and dean, it didn't matter. you can get that dvd online. check it out. but if you want to see him at his polished best, get"james brown live in concert, a 1979 summer festival performance in toronto. compare that to what people were seeing in the last 10 years and you will say-wow! they missed it.

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About Erik Maza
Erik Maza is a features reporter at the Baltimore Sun. He writes for several sections of the Sun paper and contributes weekly columns on music and nightlife. He also writes and edits the Midnight Sun blog. He often covers entertainment, business, and the business of entertainment. Occasionally, he writes about Four Loko, The Block, the liquor board, and those who practice "simulated sex with a potted palm tree." Before The Sun, he was a reporter at the Miami New Times. He's also written for Miami magazine, the Orlando Sentinel, the Sarasota Herald Tribune and the Gainesville Sun. Got tips? Gripes? Pitches? He's reachable at erik.maza@baltsun.com. Click here to keep up with the dumb music he's listening to.

Midnight Sun covers Baltimore music, live entertainment, and nightlife news. On the blog, you'll find, among other things, concert announcements, breaking news, bars closings and openings, up-to-date coverage of crime in nightlife, new music, round-the-clock coverage of Virgin Mobile FreeFest, handy guides on bars staying open past 2 a.m. on New Year's Eve and those that carry Natty Boh on draft. Recurring features include seven-day nightlife guides, Concert News, guest reviews of bars and concerts, Wednesday Corkboard, and photo galleries, as well as reader-submitted photos. Thanks for reading.
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