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+Godfather of soul+ still feels good after all these years

Sept. 17, 1996

'Godfather of soul' still feels good after all these years

Mike McKinnon Lariat Graphic Arts Editor

How many music 'legends' are still living? B.B. King, Willie Nelson, John Lee Hooker, Paul McCartney, Louie Bellson, John Lydon... well, maybe not the Johnny Rotten we all knew and loved, but a reasonable facsimile exists today.

Then there's James Brown. The Godfather of Soul. The hardest working man in show business. Dr. Funkenstein. Wait, that's George Clinton. He played Sunday.

On Friday night, the One World Music Festival kicked off a three day music festival at Resort Ranch outside Austin. After a funky soul slash blues set by Ian Moore y Los Gatos Negros, the vast park became the site of one of the few remaining legends performance. Not just a performance. Not just a concert. A production. A true rock 'n roll show. The Soul Generale, a 13 piece jazz/funk/blues band wailed persistently. The Bittersweet, a four woman back-up group harmonized flawlessly. Then there was the man. James Brown.

Good God.

Hit me!

If you've never had the opportunity to experience true soul music, true funk, live and in concert, then you have no idea what I'm talking about or what you've been missing.

This was no Rage Against the Machine or Rancid show. People were actually smiling. They sang along. You couldn't help but dance, and if you couldn't then there's something wrong with you. And not one person felt the urge to crowd surf, stage dive or mosh (though after witnessing a mosh pit form at a very laid back Brit-pop show this winter, I assume people can find an excuse to mosh to anything). A girl behind me proclaimed to everyone in a 30 foot radius this was the most fun she'd ever had at a concert.

The band, clad in red and silver uniforms, crashed through classics like 'Living In America,' 'Papa's Got a Brand New Bag,' 'I Feel Good,' and yes Baylor, even 'Sex Machine,' with such gleeful abandon that you could believe they thought they were playing them for the first time. Thumping bass, screaming saxes, wailing trumpets and a super-slick wakka-wakka guitar reminded everyone what it means to groove.

Dancers appeared periodically to give a 90s kick to some of the 60s finest.

This in itself would have been a memorable concert experience. But this show belonged to Brown. The man may be in his 60s, but he doesn't act it. He may not be able to dance like he once could. Maybe not sing as high. Move as quick. Who cares? Seeing a man who left such an indelible mark on popular music, and not just soul and funk, still performing with such energy and vitality and passion for music is truly awe inspiring. I firmly believe that at the age of 90, James Brown will still be performing with 10 times the vigor or commitment of any Liam 'check out my eyebrows cause they're my only distinguishing quality' Gallagher.

Nearly two hours after Brown kicked off his set, the last chord of 'Sex Machine' faded. People looked...happy! They looked glad to be there. They hugged the person they were standing next to. There was a large hippie contingent present, but the majority of the audience consisted of simple music-lovers. And if you were just a simple music-lover, then I suppose Resort Ranch was the only place to be Friday Night.

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