The spirit of James Brown, the Godfather Of Soul, was strong as the band that bears his name, the James Brown Band, closed out the Major Rager Music Festival in Brown’s childhood home of Augusta, Georgia. James Brown Band’s wild and wonderful set of beloved tunes was bookended by bands that did, in fact, have soul power to spare, with the seriously groovy Major Rager lineup also featuring Dumpstaphunk and George Clinton and Parliament-Funkadelic. For James Brown Band’s set, the crowd was packed in and feelin’ good, enjoying classic tracks like “Super Bad”, Sex Machine”, and “Make It Funky”.
It’s only fitting that the all-day Major Rager festival celebrate Brown’s legacy in Augusta, as the whole city is filled with homages to their funkiest son. A museum houses some of his most famous outfits, original hand-written lyrics and notes, and even the famed “King Of Soul” crown he wore in the fifties. From streets to statues, the city does its best to honor its past—but it also looks to the future. Brown’s daughter, Deanna Brown-Thomas, builds upon his legacy with the James Brown Academy of Musik Pupils (J.A.M.P).
Deanna works hard to fulfill one her late father’s wishes—to keep music in schools and available to the next generation. The school itself serves an as an honorarium, and musicians from J.A.M.P. were among the small band that filled time between sets with covers of funk and soul classics, much to the delight of the crowd. However, the tributes to James Brown were not all musical in nature. The organizers of the Major Rager had one last testament to the singer’s legacy to unveil before James Brown Band’s set got going—a giant portrait of James Brown by a local artist who said the piece was inspired by the music itself.
James Brown Band is made up of musicians who either worked with the legend or had their styles and sound shaped by the legendary performer. In the playlist below, you can hear razor-sharp renditions of some of James Brown’s most famous hits like “Baby Baby Baby”, “The Payback”, “Sex Machine”, and “Make It Funky.” Check them out and remember: when you got soul, you’re super bad!
“Baby Baby Baby” > “The Payback”