The District’s Godfather of Go-Go

The District lost a music icon today when Chuck Brown – known as the Godfather of Go-Go – died at the age of 75.

Chuck Brown Way, dedicated to the Godfather of Go-Go in 2009.

Brown developed and popularized the go-go sound in Washington in the 1970s, combining funk, soul, and rhythm and blues with a steady drumbeat that kept the music going and going for hours. Brown was famous for his live shows and interaction with the crowds in historic D.C. venues like the Uline Arena and the Howard Theatre.

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Searching for Swampoodle

What is Swampoodle?

That’s the question posed by Irish playwright Tom Swift and his director (and wife) Jo Mangan in their play of the same name, which premieres tomorrow night in Northeast D.C. at the old Uline Arena.

Beatles Poster
A poster from the Beatles’ D.C. performance

One might also ask, “Where is Swampoodle?”

That was the question posed this week by a colleague of mine when she coincidentally found the unfamiliar name listed on a map of D.C.

I’ve been intrigued by Swampoodle for months now, after a friend told me he would be acting in a play about a vanished D.C. neighborhood with a rather improbable name.

I was even more interested when he told me it would be performed in a now defunct coliseum that had once featured the Beatles, Malcolm X, and a host of other historic visitors to the District.

I sat down with Swift a few weeks ago to talk about how a pair of Dubliners became obsessed with a little-remembered Irish quarter thousands of miles away in our nation’s capital.

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