Was (Not Was)


SXSW 08 Music Live Shots
Photo by John Carrico

Was (Not Was)

La Zona Rosa, Saturday, March 15

Even if most folks never got over 1988's goofy "Walk the Dinosaur" ("open the door, get on the floor, everybody walk the dinosaur"), it was still a true crime that a bigger crowd didn't attend the closing-night Was (Not Was) set. With the exception of a recent L.A. appearance, the act's SXSW showcase marked the first time in 20 years that producer Don Was and his faux-bro David Was have gathered the original members of the seminal Detroit surrealist funk & soul group. That meant that Sweet Pea Atkinson arrived flanked by Sir Harry Bowens and Donald Ray Mitchell, all three raising their miraculous voices and spinning like four tops on standards "Papa Was a Rolling Stone" and the Was original "Where Did Your Heart Go?" Randy "Boneshaker" Jacobs contributed blistering, pyrotechnic guitar work, while drummer James Gadson, who worked with Marvin Gaye and Bill Withers, plays even now with the force and precision of beat-keepers half his age. If Zappa were still alive or George Clinton could still sing, Was (Not Was) might have some competition live, but for one night only, you couldn't only "Feel Better Than James Brown," as the band put it; you could also pay homage.

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Was (Not Was)

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