Remembering the Godfather of Soul



Gary Peterson recounts a 2001 James Brown concert at Konocti Harbor Resort & Spa

KELSEYVILLE - My friend Clarita had her James Brown alarm clock. She used to get her kids up for school with it by jumping on their beds and screaming "Get On Up! Get On UP!" They claimed they hated it, but it worked.

When the hardest working man in showbiz, the only man in the universe who looked good in a leisure suit, asked a sold out Konocti Harbor show of devotees to "Get On Up" it worked for them too.

They were on their feet in seconds shaking their booties and everything else for the master. They had
no choice. He called and they answered the only way they knew how - by getting down collectively with their bad selves and feeling good.

Brown "please, please, please-ed" an ecstatic crowd already worked to a frenzy by his mc, his incredible "say it loud and say it proud" incredible, incredible, incredible - 12 piece orchestra and Goddess' gift to men everywhere, JB's back-up singers, the Bittersweets.

The Bittersweets are five gyrating, soul stirring, crazy, dancing clothed and sometimes less so cures for
whatever ails you that my doctor neglected to tell me about.

When he prescribed something for my blood pressure he forgot to write RX, take one Bittersweet each morning with a full glass of water. Then get down on your knees and praise the Lord!

And, when you look up and see Mr. Brown singing "It's A Man's Man's Man's World," its OK to believe him for a couple of minutes. It seems right for our bruised egos, but fellas, I just go to tell you it ain't so.

It ain't so because they rule and we are but the back-up singers for the Bittersweets, five gorgeous
gals with the best job in showbiz. They get to sing duets with Mr. Brown.

They get to rap, play the blues, to sing jazz standards. They are the "Mother Popcorn" he sang about
and we are in their movie. There are shows and there are shows. You pays your money and you takes your chances as an old editor of mine used to say.

My money's on Mister Brown and, yes, I know I got in free. But this is my payment.

I would have crawled over broken glass the way Iggy Pop used to just to be there.

This was not a show, or even, a show. It was the Show. It was the hardest working man in showbiz in not one, but two, capes.

It was Talk of the Town opening acapella and warming things up for that band, and those raisons d'etre, the Bittersweets. It was "Popcorn With A Feeling and "Mashed Potato Popcorn (Parts I & II)."

He shook us up and we all shook back.

But the greatest tribute came from a few fans as Mr. Brown retired to his suite for the night.

He got out of his limo with his lady followed by his no doubt very nice but quite substantial security man. Then, as he ascended the stairs, one, then two. Three, four, maybe five people started clapping. They clapped him up the stairs to his room and he said nothing. He didn't have to. He had already worked his hardest and the pleasure was purely ours.

(Do yourselves a favor and take a gander sometime at "The TAMI Show" on DVD. It tops even Chuck Berry's duck walk and that takes some doing.)

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