Trouble Funk has been one of the forerunners in the growth and development of the Washington D.C. Go-Go scene since 1978. Along with Chuck Brown, Rare Essence, the Junkyard Band and others they have provided a musical identity that has permeated the city to the point that the Washington Wizards named one of their affiliate teams after the genre, the Capital City Go-Gos.
Big Tony Fisher, Trouble Funk’s bassist and remaining original member has seen the genre through its ups and down over the last 45 years. Fisher is proud of his place in Go-Go and the fact that it’s become so relevant after so long, the genre was declared the city’s official music by the City Council in February 2020 and the Grammy Awards have finally acknowledged the genre and created its own awards category.
As far as Fisher is concerned and he says it well, “It’s about time, it’s our time.”
The year 2020 was a year of highs and lows for Fisher and Trouble Funk, while the Coronavirus pandemic shut down performance venues the members of the band lucky enough to have full-time jobs. Fisher had a big opportunity come his way when he was asked to create the new theme song for ESPN in the Go-Go style. The money from that project came in handy when Fisher got into a car accident that damaged the quadriceps in his legs, an injury that he is still currently recovering from.
That year was also the year Go-Go was nearly purged from Washington D.C. as gentrification threatened to end the genre. According to Fisher, Go-Go had been getting a bad reputation for years for issues the bands had no control over. Issues such as crime and illegal drugs would stand on the periphery of shows as it would in any other genre and would tar and feather the bands that were playing in the venues while the issues remained outside.
But Go-Go made its presence felt once more with the Black Lives Matter protests last summer as the genre became the soundtrack to the protest. The story of Go-Go and it’s place in the history and culture of Washington D.C. as well as it’s part in the protests was released in a documentary that made its debut at the recent DC Filmfest called “Go-Go City: Displacement and Protest in Washington D.C.”
“We had enough with what was happening, we just dived in and made our presence felt,” said Fischer about the protests.
As the pandemic subsides and venues begin to open back up Trouble Funk has begun rehearsals again and the future looks bright not just for the band but for Go-Go in general. A museum dedicated to Go-Go is in the works in Washington D.C., Cee-Lo of the hip-hop group Goodie Mob is working with Go-Go groups such as the Backyard Band, the Junkyard Band, and Be’la Dona. Trouble Funk is working on a new album called The Rebirth and are collaborating with Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl.
“Go-Go is here to stay and we’re not going anywhere. Go-Go will be a landmark just like the capital. Go-Go is getting ready to take off like it should have back in the day, but it wasn’t ready then. More major artists are starting to recognize Go-Go as a genre,” said Fischer.
Trouble Funk will be performing at the Wolf Trap Theater in Vienna July 17 with Sugar Bear and the Legendary DJ Kool as their opening acts.