OSCAR BROWN JR. AND FAMILY perform their hits such as "Watermelon Man" and "Africa" at Spices Jazz Bar. Interviews with OSCAR BROWN JR., his new wife JEAN PACE BROWN, and children OSCAR III (BO BO), MAGGIE, CALVIN BRUNSON (KOCO), and AFRICA PACE BROWN about their cultural identity and history.
00:00Copy video clip URL Maggie Brown on stage at Spices Jazz Bar, thanks the audience and starts the show. She introduces the band, her brother Oscar Brown III on bass and Calvin Brunson on keyboards. Various b-roll of the duo playing.
03:39Copy video clip URL Audience applauds. Maggie Brown introduces her father, Oscar Brown, Jr., who enters and sings “Mr. Kicks.”
06:50Copy video clip URL Audience applauds. Brown, Jr. continues with a song composed with Brunson, a reflective song about the change of times.
10:02Copy video clip URL Brown, Jr. in the middle of a performance. He tells an anecdote from his childhood about street games in the South side of Chicago interrupted by the ice man with horse and wagon, and a watermelon peddler.
14:05Copy video clip URL Brown, Jr’s wife, Jean Pace Brown, enters and sings.
16:00Copy video clip URL Jean Brown in the middle of a performance.
16:35Copy video clip URL Brown, Jr. on stage introduces another song with an anecdote about how his four-year-old son inspired the lyrics.
18:37Copy video clip URL Oscar Brown III sings a song.
22:25Copy video clip URL Brown, Jr. returns and starts introducing another song.
22:44Copy video clip URL Brown, Jr. and his daughter Maggie Brown perform together.
23:41Copy video clip URL Maggie performs “Excuse Me for Living.”
26:30Copy video clip URL Brown, Jr. sings a cappella. His daughter Africa Brown joins him on stage. They go into a second song with accompaniment.
29:23Copy video clip URL Brown, Jr. introduces and sings another song about childhood memories of life in the city.
34:30Copy video clip URL Brown, Jr. performs a character-driven theatrical song with a hat.
37:21Copy video clip URL Brown, Jr. in the middle of a story-driven song called “Signifyin’ Monkey.”
39:59Copy video clip URL Brown, Jr. tells story of touring schools and educating children on cultural issues through song. He goes into a song with Africa.
45:20Copy video clip URL Brown, Jr. introduces his family. Crowd applauds.
46:46Copy video clip URL Encore performance with entire family on stage. Video drop outs.
50:12Copy video clip URL Tom Weinberg interviews Oscar Brown, Jr. and his family. They talk about Chicago Slices. He asks Brown III about his playing. Maggie laughs at remembering how the bass was bigger than he was. Brown III introduces himself as a co-composer, music technician and bass player. He states he is 37-years old. Maggie comments that she and her sister Africa are the two youngest siblings. Maggie handles the business.
53:48Copy video clip URL Stop/re-start digitizing. Maggie Brown says she produces the shows and that today’s performance was a kind of family reunion. Africa Brown introduces herself and compliments Maggie on getting this show together. Africa says she lives in Los Angeles with her parents. Jean Brown introduces herself. She notes that she and Brown, Jr. have worked together since 1962 or 63. Brown, Jr. talks about his history, his stint as faculty at Drew University and his interest in wanting to return to Chicago. He mentions his son Oscar Brown III is a member of the Funky Wordsmyths (recorded on tape 14044). He comments on Maggie’s educational music.
57:57Copy video clip URL Weinberg says he grew up knowing Oscar Brown, Jr as a genius of his time that wasn’t fully recognized. Brown, Jr reflects that it’s the nature of his music. The entertainment industry wants to keep the public stupefied. They don’t want sensitivity. He says his work is considered militant and suggests the industry doesn’t want to support an artist going into the projects and trying to use music to help the community.
01:00:58Copy video clip URL Brunson enters. He says he’s written a lot with Brown, Jr. He’s learned a lot from him about life and art. Says he met Oscar Brown III in high school 23-years ago. The Brown’s first born son makes a quick and silent appearance.
01:03:19Copy video clip URL Maggie Brown says her sister, Africa, was in a play at age 8 and won an award. She has not been singing as long as the others in the family.
01:04:04Copy video clip URL Weinberg comments that it’s unusual to find one family with so much talent and asks if they could have developed as they did if they were not from Chicago. Oscar Brown III says no. Chicago had a big influence. The elder jazz musicians shaped them. Brunson composed at age 14 a song that all the kids performed. He says the blues that Brown Jr. does is Chicago blues. It’s not New Orleans or St. Louis. It’s a heady blues indigenous to Chicago. It messes with your head.
01:06:49Copy video clip URL Weinberg asks why the world doesn’t know about Oscar Brown, Jr. Jean Brown that once on an airplane he lost a play that he had written. He had memorized it and re-wrote it. Maggie Brown says if someone handled her father’s business it would be a gold mine. But there are forces against it. Brown, Jr. hasn’t been perfect, but he has made a lot of effort to get his work out into the community. He has proposed to many cities the idea of going into the projects to use music to help create a positive influence. Maggie Brown says we have to do it ourselves.
01:10:04Copy video clip URL Weinberg says he once produced a piece on a watermelon street vendor and searched for a recording of Brown, Jr’s version of “Watermelon Man” song to use. He couldn’t find it in the stores. He could only find Jon Hendricks’ version. Jean Brown says people don’t want her husband to be popular because his work makes people think and that’s dangerous.
01:12:38Copy video clip URL The family says there’s tremendous joy in performing together. Oscar Brown III says he admires his sister Africa. She cracks the whip and gets everyone moving. The joy they share is the fuel that keeps them going. It’s how the music is created.
01:14:19Copy video clip URL Maggie Brown says she remembers when Andrew Jones recorded The Funky Wordsmyths for Chicago Slices and was concerned at first because he just walked in and started recording. She knew from history that culture bandits would steal music and sell it back to the artists.
01:15:55Copy video clip URL B-roll of Weinberg, Maggie Brown and Jean Brown at table signing release forms.
01:16:07Copy video clip URL END