Mambo Sauce is a new band from the District looking to export go-go music out of the C.C. (that’s Chocolate City for all you P-Funk neophytes) and around the world. If you haven’t heard of go-go before, you are not alone, but you are Mambo Sauce’s target audience.
Go-go is a D.C.-region specific genre of music that incorporates Afro-Caribbean percussion into a traditional funk sound. Chuck Brown, the godfather of go-go, is the man credited with the development of the sound and style, noting that he was just trying to keep people on dance floor. And true to his word, go-go is as much about the freedom of movement and expression as it is about music. As such, it has come to define black musical culture in this city, but only in this city. A unique element of go-go music is that it is oddly geographically constrained to the D.C.-Baltimore metro area.
Music is fluid and dynamic. It can be easily molded, fused, created and destroyed by multiple groups of people at the same time. Go-go, then, is an anomaly to this definition. It continues to prosper in the place of its birth, with very little variation on tradition and, most importantly without diffusing to the rest of the country or to different populations.
It is precisely this traditional view of go-go that Mambo Sauce is trying to combat. In the same way that hip-hop was exported out of its Bronx birthplace to become an international phenomenon, the members of Mambo Sauce envision a similar fate for their music.
In an interview with The Hatchet, members of the band all nodded in agreement and appreciation when it was suggested that go-go could be the glue that binds the world together. Percussionist Jermaine “Pep” Cole insisted, “go-go can connect the world.”
They label themselves Go-Go and they hype it up, but, a more accurate label would be something like neo-go-go. They lack traditional go-go’s loud horns and louder timba drums; they lack the fun, laid-back, improvisational vibe that had characterized so much of what go-go was about. Mambo Sauce is a sleeker, more stylized package, with clever hip-hop, soul, Latin, and rock hooks layered over a strong rhythm section. What tradition Mambo Sauce does embrace can be seen at their live performances, however, as the band engages in the typical practice of call-and-response with the audience, actively encouraging their participation and attention.
At their latest performance at D.C.’s “For Sisters Only” convention, one notable example of this practice occurred when Alfred “Black Boo” Duncan, one of the group’s lead singers, propositioned the audience with, “Do y’all like George Bush?” only to be answered with a resounding “Boo!”
Mambo Sauce is in the process of releasing their first album due out by the end of January 2008. The release of their first album will be paired with more aggressive touring throughout the Mid-Atlantic in addition to playing in Chuck Brown’s show at 9:30 Club on New Year’s Eve.
Washington has been the sole benefactor of go-go for too long and Mambo Sauce is the band that can take this city’s beloved genre, in the words of P-Funk, intergalactic. As Black Boo says, “Its kind of hard to describe. You have to see it for yourself.”
To listen to the band’s music, head over to their MySpace page at myspace.com/mambosauce.