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On Wednesday, two nights after the annual Washington Area Music Association’s Wammie Award ceremony at the Washington Hilton, WAMA will inaugurate its permanent Hall of Fame at the Hard Rock Cafe. Inducted that night will be Quentin “Footz” Davidson, the tragically murdered 33-year-old drummer of Rare Essence, as well as longtime jazz bassist Keeter Betts. Davidson and Betts join 18 musicians selected by the WAMA board since 1985, a list that includes D.C.-area artists Duke Ellington, the Nighthawks, Marvin Gaye, and the Slickee Boys. Davidson, Betts, and the others will be honored with commemorative plaques on permanent display at the Hard Rock. Daniel “Breeze” Clayton, owner of Deno’s nightclub, will speak in honor of Davidson and present Footz’s award to the late musician’s mother, Annie Mack Thomas.
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According to a Prince George’s County police spokesperson, no arrests have been made for the Sept. 17 killing of Davidson. The drummer, who had been playing go-go for nearly 18 years and was an original member of Rare Essence, has been widely cited as the most influential drummer in the genre’s heavily percussive musical style. Breeze Clayton compares Footz’s mastery of his instrument to that of Jimi Hendrix, adding that “he was a pioneer [who] loved his craft.” Davidson’s skills were most recently showcased on So What You Want?, a half-studio, half-live effort that displays the purist go-go—no ballads, no polished hiphop beats—for which RE has long been known. Donnell Floyd, a rapper with the group and Davidson’s best friend, somberly recalls that while it was “extremely emotional” the first time the band performed without Davidson, they have elected to continue with Leslie MacKenzie, a member of the ensemble’s technical crew who served as an occasional substitute drummer. Floyd notes that Rare Essence has returned to its regular four-shows-a-week schedule, which recently included dates in Atlanta, Hampton, and the Carolinas. In mid-November, filmmaker Jessie Barnes will film a live concert movie that should reflect the uncompromising raw musical approach on which Davidson always insisted.