[Click play for our full-length interview with Ju Ju House – July 26, 2017]
This week we were truly honored and delighted to have legendary Go-Go music drummer Ju Ju House on the show. Wow. Where to start? Ju Ju is best known as an absolute anchor of the DC Go-Go sound through his work with Chuck Brown, Experience Unlimited (E.U.) and others dating back 30+ years. But his career has also included touring, recording with +/or producing a crazy-long list of world-class artists, including (in no particular order) Roberta Flack, Chaka Khan, Nancy Wilson, Arrested Development (on MTV Uplugged), Kurtis Blow, Salt n’ Pepa, Luther Vandross, Peabo Bryson, Natalie Cole, David Sanborn, Skritti Politti, SMAP, Jon Secada, Grace Jones, Eva Cassidy, Sugar Bear, Little Benny, Madonna, Beyonce, Alicia Keys, Soul II Soul, Steel Pulse, Sitali/Kush, and many, many more. He also composed and performed for Spike Lee films “School Daze” and “Do The Right Thing.” There’s more but hold up, I need to catch my breath…
Ju Ju came to music early, taking the baton from his father who played with Otis Redding and James Brown in their early days. As a kid, Ju Ju was drumming in the church band and sneaking peaks at Steve Ferrone rehearsing with Average White Band in the Jersey neighborhood where he started out. His first band on the scene in DC was called the Peacemakers, but Ju Ju was in demand and bounced around with Trouble Funk and Little Benny & The Masters playing Club Le Baron and Moonlight Inn back in the very beginning of the Go-Go music genre. He later hooked up with E.U. and then The Chuck Brown Band and the rest is as they say, history. With the breakout hit “Da Butt” came world tours, new connections and a career spanning 30 years of non-stop pocket on the stage and off.
These days Ju Ju is still rocking with E.U. and Chuck Brown Band, still performing, recording and producing artists of all stripes, and has now begun teaching Go-Go music in schools and community centers across the DC area. He recently took some of his students from the Shaw Community Center out busking and they made money on the streets of DC playing DC’s own. Can you imagine going from early days creating a new style of music that represents a whole city, the nation’s capitol no less, and then 30 years later you’re teaching it in schools as part of the official curriculum?!
That’s what Ju Ju is all about. Keep working. Stay humble. Stay on the spiritual side of the music, the people side. Talent and hard work play a huge part in Ju Ju’s success, but his positive outlook and open spirit is what enables him to thrive in so many different styles, with so many great artists and never drop the beat. Ever notice how the best, most accomplished musicians, the living legends, the hall-of-fame inductees, the icons are almost always the sweetest, most down to earth people in the room? That’s Ju Ju.
Now, we didn’t just talk. Ju Ju also treated us to two unreleased tracks [“My Funny Valentine” and “Knock”] from his upcoming solo album “Blackface” dropping later this year. The album features contributions from folks like Chaka Khan, Little Benny, Jarod and Katreece Barnes, Sitali and more. The arrangements are Go-Go music infused but with Ju Ju’s own personal touch. The production is top-notch and by the way done at Ju Ju’s DC studio House of Secrets. And of course the drums man. So good.
Thank you Ju Ju for making time for our little show and our little station here in Takoma Park. 30 years going strong, and no sign of stopping. Go Ju Ju Go!