“Yeah, tell Mike what happened today with that lady up at the store, when we were talking about the ‘Dove Step,’” Brad said, smiling.
With that, Brad looked over to his colleague, a slender fellow in his early 20s, long red hair, cargo shorts, someone who could’ve passed for a full-time skateboarder out of Los Angeles.
“Dove Step?” I replied. “Sounds more like a smooth dance move made by James Brown, like when he’d do the ‘Mashed Potatoes’ shuffle.”
“James Brown? Who’s he?” the skateboarder-looking dude inquired, a puzzled frown on his face.
“You mean to tell me you don’t know who James Brown is, the Godfather of Soul?,” I snorted.
“And you’ve never heard of the Dove Step?,” the young dude shot back.
Thus began the impetus for this week’s column.
Born in South Carolina in 1933, James Brown, black, first came on the music scene in the mid-50s, his brand of high-octane rhythm & blues demanding the attention of listeners and record-label executives, both black and white.
In 1965, backed by tight rhythm and horn sections, Brown gained national recognition with the release of his self-penned “Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag,” which became his first top 10 hit and won him a Grammy Award.
Hits such as “I Got You,” “It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World,” and “Cold Sweat” would follow. It has been written that “Cold Sweat” (co-written by Brown) was the “first true funk song” in pop music. These days, regarding the collective music scene, the term “funk” is as common as rock ‘n’ roll,” “country,” “blues,” “jazz,” “rap,” “R&B,” “hip-hop,” etc.
James Brown was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. A survey by “Rolling Stone” magazine listed the “100 Greatest Artists of All Time” and Brown was ranked seventh. Brown passed away in 2006 at age 73.
The thing I most remember about James Brown, though, was his out-of-sight dancing. To this day, I’ve never seen a man who could move his feet with the speed and rhythmic effect of James Brown! He would scream “Wow!” into the microphone, then slide back and forth across the stage, one foot on the stage, other foot in the air, as though being carried on a conveyor belt.
(NOTE: Go to YouTube and type in: James Brown’s dance moves.)
Now, back to the Dove Step . . .
The skateboarder proceeded to give me a history lesson on Dove Step music: It originated in England in the mid ’90s, fell into the genre of techno-electronic music, and had approximately 140 beats per minute.
“Think the music you’d hear at a happening Rave party, man,” he explained. He followed his explanation with a robotic-moonwalk dance move.
Though I’d never been to a Rave party, nor given techno music any serious listening time, I had seen enough on TV, and heard enough on radio, to sort of know what he was talking about, especially with the visual of his demonstrative dance move.
So, for this week’s column I was attempting to research “Dove Step,” but I couldn’t find squat on it! I went to Google and typed in “Dove Step Music” and, much to my chagrin, it pulled up “Dove Music Awards.” I even asked a couple other colleagues, and they had no earthly idea.
Frustrated, I capitulated and called the friend who’d introduced me to the skateboarder fellow who’d told me about the Dove Step.
Was I ever in for a surprise! I was informed that it was “Dubstep,” not “Dove Step.” I just shook my head and thought “duh” . . . yeah, I know, as in “dub.”
Reflecting back, I chide myself for even being surprised the young skateboarder fellow didn’t know James Brown or his music. He had just as much right to not know James Brown as I did to not know Dubstep.
It was a perfect example of the proverbial “generation gap.”
Lesson learned: Listen more closely to what the younger generation has to say . . . and when I say “listen,” I do mean listen!