Maurice Shorter wants to make go-go a true music industryone that relies on business as well as beats. In late June, he started up his all-go-go record store, Tape Place, the first of its kind in the District, to prove that go-go could make money before 12:30 a.m. “No one had taken that approach before to make it a business,” he says. “Everyone has been engulfed by it, not making it better. Everyone kept it so personal, they wanted to make money for themselves. They were selfish. People haven’t thought this way beforeto take it and reinvest. What I’m doing is not for me personally. It’s for the good of the business. The band members don’t understand that concept. They don’t put themselves in the position of trying to understand. That’s why Tupac died broke.”
Tape Place looks anything but broke. Its steel-gray carpeting leads to pristine glass cases holding the regular retail CDs from Junkyard and Rare Essence and the more popular PA tapes from live shows representing all of go-go history. A few spare posters are tacked to the walls, and T-shirts hang at attention on chrome racks. Even the go-go playing from a Denon rack is turned to a whisper. It’s a shop with the atmosphere of a mall boutique. Shorter says, “I want to make it the Disney Store of the go-go world.” Fueling this hyperbole, he makes comparisons to Versace and other designer stores. This from a Howard University graduate who washes the windshield of his car every morning (“I can’t drive around with dirty windows”) and who can always been seen wearing linen slacks, loafers, and exotic-print button-downs. On this Thursday afternoon, I catch him wearing a T-shirt emblazoned with a woman in a booty-baring position. “Make sure you put ‘exotic honey,’” he says, putting a spin on my objections. To Shorter, part of the business is appearance, but the most important aspect of his store is the knowledge he brings to each PA tape.
Shorter not only owns about 1,200 tapes, he has also recorded many of them. He can identify a particular tape just from the onstage banter. He knows his tapes by vintage. When a customer comes in asking for something in an ’89, Shorter can name the ones he has and make suggestions. Another patron foolishly offers a cassette of Junkyard from ’90. Shorter quickly rebukes him. “I made all their tapes,” he says with a smile.Jason Cherkis
Tape Place, located at 2529 Pennsylvania Ave. SE, is open Sunday-Friday 2-8 p.m., Saturday 12-8 p.m. Shorter doesn’t have a phone yet, but his web address is www.gogomusic.com.