Filene Center
TONIGHT AT
THE FILENE CENTER

BIG TONY AND TROUBLE FUNK

With Special Guest Sugar Bear
The Legendary DJ Kool

JUL 18 | 8 PM

Founded in 1978, Trouble Funk energized its native D.C. with the sound of go-go music, an uproarious blend of swinging, up-tempo ’70s funk and a ’60s-style horn section. Although the band was miles off of the radar of popular music during the early 1980s, Trouble Funk earned a loyal fan base for their famed, can’t-miss live act: a raw version of dance and funk with plenty of extensive jams that made for a rollicking party with audience-friendly vocal tags and call-out hooks. 

Its original lineup coalesced around drummer Emmet Nixon, percussionists Mack Carey and Timothius Davis, guitarist Chester Davis, bassist Tony Fisher, trombone players Gerald and Robert Reed, trumpeter Taylor Reed, keyboard player James Avery, and saxophonist David Rudd. 

The first go-go record released outside of D.C., Trouble Funk’s 1982 debut Drop the Bomb appeared on Sugar Hill—the same label that championed early hip-hop, which, like go-go, also originated from the breakbeat culture of urban block parties. Also in 1982, Trouble Funk released a single “So Early In The Moring” on D.E.T.T. Records and the song was later reissued on diverse labels as 2.13.61, Inc. and Tuff City Records.

Though the band’s second album In Times of Trouble (1983) appeared only on the local D.C. label D.E.T.T., Trouble Funk earned national distribution with a 1985 concert album Saturday Night (Live from Washington, D.C.) released through Island Records. After taking the live act nationwide, and even worldwide with the 1986 Montreux Jazz Festival, Trouble Funk released the boundary breaking album Trouble Over Here, Trouble Over There in 1987, featuring Bootsy Collins and Kurtis Blow. 

Trouble Funk’s song “Pump Me Up” has been sampled by many other artists and was featured in the 1983 documentary Style Wars and the fictional R&B radio station Wildstyle in the videogame Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. “Pump Me Up” was also sampled in Dimple D’s one-hit wonder “Sucker DJ.”

Trouble Funk continued grooving around the city, playing into the ’90s and 2000s for nostalgic party goers as well as the musically curious. In April 2008, keyboard player Robert “Syke Dyke” Reed passed away from pancreatic cancer at age 50. Despite this tragic loss, Trouble Funk stayed together and remains a prominent influence on the D.C. area’s live music scene. The legacy of Trouble Funk lives on.

Read more about Trouble Funk and their debut at the Filene Center with WTOP’s interview with Big Tony.

SUGAR BEAR

Sugar Bear is a dancehall reggae artist, born in Black River, St. Elizabeth, Jamaica. He migrated to New York during his early childhood, and his love for music combined with the strong influence of reggae artists like Bounty Killer led Sugar Bear to pursue his own musical ambitions. He started in the industry by doing dubs for the Young Hawk Sound System in the Bronx in New York City and performing live in local clubs whenever possible. He then began recording songs and traveling to Jamaica to promote and perform. 

Sugar Bear’s music has taken him all around the world, including to Japan, Canada, United Kingdom, and throughout the U.S. Sugar Bear has recorded various songs including “Hot Girls Come Thru,” “Tight,” “Jamaica Mi Born,” “Di Likkle Youths,” “La Isla Bonita (Featuring Tony Cuirtis),” “Pum Pum Powers,” “This Is A Prayer,” “Cyah Stop We,” “Heaven Tonight,” “Pretty Pretty,” “Sugar Cane” (with international recording artist Rayvon), and more.

Sugar Bear is currently performing, creating new shows, and promoting “Red Bull,” a vibrant single produced by Tropical Blendz.

THE LEGENDARY DJ KOOL

The Legendary DJ Kool is an American DJ and rapper who in the late 1980s produced several popular rap singles. Born in 1958 in Washington, D.C., DJ Kool spent many years working the go-go and rap circuits. These influences soon became apparent in his own body of work, as he recorded creative funk music from 1988 to 1992. DJ Kool was first picked up by CLR Records in 1992 and subsequently by American Recordings in 1996, the same year he released the chart topping single “Let Me Clear My Throat.” The song peaked at No. 8 on the UK Singles Chart and No. 30 on Billboard Hot 100. “Let Me Clear My Throat” is a recognizable dance floor-filler, and the track remains popular to this day. In 2006 DJ Kool was featured on Mýa’s single “Ayo!” from her 2008 album Liberation. He was also featured on two tracks on Will Smith’s 2005 album Lost and Found.


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THANK YOU TO

Dan and Gayle D’Aniello,
Wolf Trap 2021 Season Underwriters

PNC Credit