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Back in the day, most go-go shows were publicized with day-glo Globe posters stapled to trees, telephone poles, and boarded-up storefronts.
That’s all changed, of course, and now go-go events are advertised on social media, with concert and club dates ads appearing on band pages as well as on various Facebook groups focusing on the music. Both Kato Hammond’s TMOTTGOGO.com and Nico Hobson’s GoGoRadio Live list and advertise upcoming shows.
Now there’s a new go-go listings page in town, or actually out of town, since Malachai Johns, creator of GoGoTix.Co, currently lives in L.A., where he runs his Allive Agency, handling bookings for a variety of artists including several—Backyard Band, Raheem DeVaughn, and Tabi Bonney—with roots in D.C.
Launched last month, Johns’ new website offers free listings to any and all bands for any shows, no matter how large or small, with a simple format: Submit by Friday at 5 p.m., listing appears on Monday. For an additional cost, paid listings are accompanied by a photo and a link for purchasing tickets; those events are also included in a weekly email blast.
Johns came up with the idea for GoGoTix with a few goals in mind. “The first being increased attendance at shows from existing fans because they’ll know where the bands are playing,” he says. “This is an easy place for them to look and it’s convenient.”
His second goal, somewhat more ambitious, is one he shares with many go-go artists. “This has always been my theme—to broaden the demographic of people who come to go-go events. I just love the music so much that I feel like everybody should be exposed to it.”
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Despite his caucasity, Johns has respectable go-go credentials. By age 14, he was playing lead guitar for the go-go Occupation Band in his hometown of Annapolis. After returning from college in Montana in 2000, Johns played for Northeast Groovers and with Soulo, a version of NEG that played the newly developed grown ‘n’ sexy circuit.
Johns lived in Las Vegas and Los Angeles for a time, then returned to D.C. to create and manage Mambo Sauce. He played guitar on that band’s biggest hit, “Welcome to D.C.,” one of go-go’s more recent classics. For a time, he also managed the Northeast Groovers, and during a stint as entertainment manager of Maryland Live, he brought go-go bands to perform at the casino.
Johns currently books go-go into several D.C. venues, including Hill Country Barbecue and City Winery, shows that he will, naturally, be promoting on the GoGoTix website. “I’m coming at this from an entrepreneurial standpoint—I see a hole in the marketplace where value could be provided,” he says. And yet, he does not expect GoGoTix to become his main livelihood. “It’s not like it’s some million dollar idea that I’m expecting to put me in a Lamborghini,” he adds.
Some in the go-go community have suggested that the music will gain worldwide visibility—and tremendous financial benefits—if it can be easily accessible to the millions of tourists who visit the city each year. They also argue that this can be accomplished without go-go losing its cachet as an underground culture. “I don’t think bands have to choose between losing the essence of the culture in order to be bigger or staying where they are—they can do both at the same time,” says Johns. “There can be bands playing every night of the week in D.C. continuing to do what they do, and there can be bands on tour, touring all over the world. Those things are not mutually exclusive.”
Johns’ experience sharing go-go with his university friends in Montana give him a clear idea of the universality of go-go’s appeal. “I literally have a friend in Montana—who’s lived in Montana his entire life—who became a diehard Chuck Brown fan because I introduced him to it,” he says. “The guy plays in a country band, but he loves Chuck Brown.”