Music to Your Ears
Make It Funky
Jesse L. Spicer is a man obsessed. Not with stamp collecting or American naval history or vintage amps with perfect tone, but with The Hardest Working Man in Show Business. He's obsessed with the late, great James Brown.
So much so that after The Godfather of Soul died on Dec. 25 last year, Spicer flew from Albuquerque to Augusta, Ga., to attend the performer's funeral. It's been a whole year since James Brown passed away. Spicer hasn't forgotten.
A teenager at Albuquerque High School, Spicer first saw Brown perform at the old Civic Auditorium in the early ’60s. "I left that concert with a feeling I cannot explain," he says. "Although I've never met Mr. Brown in person, I have felt a close relationship with him since my first James Brown show." And since that fateful night, Spicer never missed a chance to see Brown perform in New Mexico—with the exception of the Santa Fe Opera show last summer. (Spicer had tickets to the show, but a delayed flight prevented him from attending. He still feels frustrated about it.)
Spicer thinks back to the year—1968—when Brown released "Say It Loud—I'm Black and I'm Proud." He remembers how the song "revitalized" people in the Civil Rights Movement.
It's also no small feat that 40 years ago Brown was one of the few performers who toured regularly through New Mexico. "He was the only one who'd come here back in the day," Spicer remembers. "Him and Tina Turner and maybe Chubby Checker came every two years."
"I go back so far with Mr. Brown, I will always do something for him in Albuquerque," Spicer says. "I'm compelled to. I do not ever want his legacy to disappear."
True to his word, Spicer is keeping James Brown's legacy in motion with an interactive tribute that commemorates the life and death of the controversial performer. The exhibition runs this weekend only, Saturday, Dec. 29, and Sunday, Dec. 30, at Expo New Mexico's African American Performing Arts Center (just inside Gate Three at San Pedro and Copper).
Spicer will screen the James Brown documentary The Man, The Music and the Message, which will be followed by a candlelight "walk of fame" past newspaper clippings, promotional posters and other pieces of memorabilia. The tribute is capped with a stop at Brown's "final curtain."
Showtimes are at 11 a.m., 1, 3, 5 and 7 p.m. both days. Admission is $7 for adults, $4 for kids. Fans of James Brown are encouraged to get up offa that thang.