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The Making of W2G2R

Michael “Funky Ned” Neal

Legendary bass player Mike “Funky Ned” Neal, one of the founding members of Rare Essence, has also played with Maxwell and The Legends just to name a few. Mike has greatly contributed to the DC Style Go-Go music since the 1970s and continues to maintain its unique sound with his influential performances.

Federico Gonzalez Pena

Federico González Peña is a Uruguayan-Argentine jazz pianist and keyboardist. After being taught by the renowned classical pianist Antonio De Raco, he moved to the United States in 1984 to pursue his studies at the Berklee College of Music and has since played in numerous groups. He played in the trio Gaïa with harmonica player Grégoire Maret and drummer Gene Lake. He is best known though for his work with the Marcus Miller band.

Jacques Johnson Jr.

Jacques’ love for music began at the age of fifteen in his home in Oxon Hill, MD, where he grew up. His most profound influence came from his Dad, Jacques Johnson Sr., but he also credits greats like Nile Rodgers and George Benson for inspiring him. For over 20 years Jacques has played with several bands, including playing with his sister, Meshell Ndegeocello and the Go-Go legend, Chuck Brown.

Maurice “Mighty Mo” Hagans

Maurice Hagans has been a percussionist for 30 years and spent 13 with the legendary Godfather of Go-Go, Chuck Brown. Maurice is also known around Washington D.C. as "Mighty Mo”. It is very likely that you have danced to the beat of this locally known musician if you have listened to Go-Go.

Kevin Smith “Big Footz”

Kevin E. Smith, a native of Washington DC started playing drums when he was three years old. His two older brothers, Butch and Kenny taught him the basics and Kevin went on to play in concert and marching bands, and eventually in local clubs and events. Kevin has been in several documentaries and the movie All The Man I Need. The list of bands Kevin has played with include Trouble Funk, Soul Patrol, The Wilson Pickett Band, Myehsia and the Hip Huggers, Rare Essence, Legend Band and 2nd Sole Band.

Greg Boyer

Born in Washington, D.C. and an avid music lover from an early age, he first played the alto saxophone at the age of 10. By the time he graduated from Lackey High School, he could also play tuba and tenor saxophone. He later switched to trombone playing with Parliament/Funkadelic from 1978 to 1996. Greg also played with Chuck Brown.

Brad Clements

Brad Clements was born in Washington DC and has over 25 years’ experience as a professional musician. His fiery trumpet has led him to play with DC’s legendary Chuck Brown, Prince, Aretha Franklin, Bootsy Collins and many other notable artists. Brad has also produced two solo CDs and plays annually on the Capital Jazz Cruise.

Elijah Jamal Balbed

Elijah Jamal Balbed is one of the premiere Jazz Artists in Washington, DC and a Winner of the 2020 DC Jazz Prix Competition. In addition to Jazz, Elijah has a deep love for DC’s indigenous music known as Go-Go. Over the last decade or so, Elijah has established himself as an International Artist having performed in Japan, the United Kingdom, Jazz at Lincoln Center Doha (Qatar), and on the Capital Jazz Cruise which has taken Elijah all around the Caribbean Islands. In 2014, Elijah founded The JoGo Project - a Jazz / Go-Go fusion band dedicated to promoting and preserving the legacy of DC’s unique art form.