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Summerfest Finds It's Soul

James Brown
Briggs & Stratton Stage
Summerfest 2001
Milwaukee, WI
June 30, 2001

James Brown
The heat takes over

Story and Photos by Phil Bonyata

Watch out Prince. Don't look back D'Angelo because the Godfather of Soul is still knockin' on your door. While both are talented, the modern purveyors of funk and soul can't naturally produce the fiery charisma that James Brown was born with. It comes from inside - from the heart and soul.

Summerfest in Milwaukee got a special treat with this energetic and electric performer Saturday night. At 68 Brown makes the stage his own funked up jungle gym. While playing a little air guitar he twists and turns as he kicks the air with an energy that many 40 year olds' would be proud of possesing. Nobody's told him that he's not supposed to do this stuff anymore. Brown flirts with the audience, winking at every wide eyed fan in the front row as he and his band reached for funk nirvana.

Wearing a black suit and letting his well groomed trademark mop of hair stand perfectly in place as he shook and struted all over the stage, Brown found his home. He looks almost the same as he did twenty years ago except for the slightly inflated tire around the middle. His voiced morphed from graceful soul to a banshee mating call. It's hard to have influences when you're one of the originals. His raw energy oozes with sex appeal.

Sweat drenched, Brown lit loose on some of his ground breaking classics like "It's a Man's Man's Man's World" and "Every Beat of My Heart." His band provided a crack rhythm foundation peppered with the churned up funky beats that oiled Brown's engine.

As the heat of the audience mixed with the fire spewing from Brown's body, he lit into "I Got You (I Feel Good)" reminding many, and opening the eyes of the uninitiated, that James Brown is one of the most talented and influential artists in American music.
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