A House Divided

If it were possible to live in two places at once, or if technology caught up with what TV promised us decades ago, I’d split my time evenly between the DC area and my real home in Buffalo. Sadly, not only are we not getting a warp drive anytime soon, neither are teleporters a thing (yet). There are plenty of differences between the two cities, not the least of which is the sound of the bands that originated in them.

For starters…

The Goo Goo Dolls, of course. Here’s an oooooold clip from 1993 featuring Buffalo icon and all-around great guy Lance Diamond, a legendary performer who passed away last year. The Goos and Lance Diamond were close and performed together a handful of times over the past 20 or so years, including this cover of the Rolling Stones’ Bitch.

By comparison, there’s DC’s notorious Fugazi. Hard to believe this band, essentially the sum total of DC punk for many people, got its start nearly 30 years ago, in 1987. Technically on indefinite hiatus for the past 12 years, Fugazi refused to compromise, embodying the do-it-yourself approach to music and worked with the equally local Dischord Records label, recently visited by Dave Grohl as part of the DC episode of Sonic Highways.

Very little needs to be said about Rick James. Probably very little should be said about Rick James. So here’s the most notorious song from one of Buffalo’s most notorious sons.

Chuck Brown, on the other hand, was beloved in DC. The inventor of go-go, or at least widely hailed as its godfather, this pioneer was performing up until a few months before he died in 2012. Many members of his extended family were included in his backing band. It should be noted that Brown was notorious in his own way, having served eight years prison after being convicted of murder in the 1950s, but it was his time in jail that sparked his musical journey.

While not from Buffalo proper but the nearby(ish) city of Jamestown, 10,000 Maniacs formed in 1981 and, despite the departure of founding member Natalie Merchant following her successful solo album’s release in 1995, they continue to perform concerts and festivals around Western New York and nationally. At the height of their popularity, they were a frequent feature on late night shows including Saturday Night Live, the Tonight Show and the Late Show with David Letterman. The Maniacs recently released a new album, their twelfth.

Until researching this list, I had no idea Roberta Flack was from Washington, D.C. Talk about a national treasure! Not only did she write Killing Me Softly with His Song and The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face, she was the first person, and only solo artist, to win the Grammy for Record of the Year twice in a row, in 1973 and 1974. While she was born in North Carolina, Flack taught music and started performing in jazz clubs and accompanied opera singers

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