D.C. Soul Revealed in Globe Poster Art by Adrian Loving

by Adrian Loving:

The legacy and success of the Washington, Metro-Area Go-Go scene can largely be traced to the explosion of posters from the Globe Printing Company of Baltimore, Maryland. Between the late seventies to mid-eighties Joseph Cicero, Sr. and his small family-owned operation gave birth to the graphic visual identity of Go-Go’s musical movement. Globe’s posters advertised every upstart band from AM FM, Junkyard Band, Ayre Rayde and Hot Cold Sweat to the big legends such as Rare Essence, Experience Unlimited and Chuck Brown (R.I.P.) and the Soul Searchers.

While growing up in Landover, Maryland, a stones throw away from the famous Capital Centre, I noticed my neighborhood light posts were covered each week with these day-glo advertisements.  The ubiquitous street corners in most Prince Georges county neighborhoods such as Forrestville, Oxon Hill, Bladensburg and Deanwood and the wall facades of the District became a natural landscape of color and culture.  These posters were significant in that they had a specific style, look and feel that became signature to the DC area. Each poster contained bold, exciting hand set typography, opulent color and tailored language to an african-american audience of teens and young adults.

Printed on a thin cardboard paper, these posters were designed to blaze like a supernova for a life span of about 2 weeks maximum, then fade into urban decay. “One could almost hear the music while looking at these posters!” In addition, the crudely handcut halftone photographs of the performing artists worked in a strange way to each poster that “hand made” or “unpolished” appeal. Only the legendary posters made by the artists in San Francisco’s Fillmore psychedelic rock scene of the 1960’s and 70’s, or those of Nashville Tennessee‘s Hatch Show Print Company had a distinct and equally powerful identifying style for their particular region. The subject of this collection of posters is the late Chuck Brown and the Soul Searchers, whos funeral is this afternoon. We celebrate his legacy in astounding visual form!

1. Chuck Brown And The Soul Searchers Live at R.S.V.P Nightclub
Globe Poster Company, Circa Early 1980’s

The R.S.V.P Nightclub was a Southwest, D.C. spot for the older “grown and sexy” late twenty-somethings. Waterside Mall, a government-by-day workers office complex and its surrounding planned community of 1960’s architectural modernity offered a contrast, to this unique music venue. I remember my older uncles and cousins talking about drinking Hennessy during happy hour and then seeing Chuck later at the R.S.V.P. It’s amazing that their original recording album “Chuck Brown Live” was also created here.

2. Chuck Brown And The Soul Searchers Live at The Panorama Room
Globe Poster Company, Circa Early 1980’s

Every prominent DC Go-Go band had to do a stint at the famous Panorama Room! This Anacostia ballroom boasted one of the best views of the city from atop a hill. Most of the best Go-Go performances were in Southeast D.C. or in Prince Georges County. Other obscure venues included Cheri’s, Capital City Ballroom (AKA The Black Hole) and the Kentland Fire House. Most bands played wherever they could get bookings, which by virtue, immortalized those venues on paper in glorious fashion.

3. Chuck Brown And The Soul Searchers Live at The Masonic Temple
Globe Poster Company, Circa Mid-to-Late 1980’s

I only went twice to the Masonic Temple, once to attend a Puff Daddy college party and the other to See Chuck play.  The Prince Hall Masonic Temple was originally founded to provide scholarships and assistance to D.C. high school students and provide care to the homeless. It later developed a reputation as a weekly home for the music of Chuck Brown and The Soul Searchers. Often thought of as a “sweatbox”, I do remember someone dropping a stink bomb up in there and half the party cleared out. Chuck’s music truly cranked in this basement spot through the wee hours.

4. Chuck Brown And The Soul Searchers Live at Felicity’s Ballroom
Globe Poster Company, Circa Early-to-mid 1990’s

By the 1990’s, Globe’s Go-Go posters had evolved into a more type heavy version of their former selves. The hand set letterforms had lost a bit of their raw character. The colors, while still magnificent in their simplicity began to seem a bit mundane in their presentation. Font choices appeared cliche and the photographs of the artists seemed a bit too crisp and digital. Globe was now making the transition into the digital printing era, however the original spirit of the music still communicates through these timeless posters.

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