Nearly 2,000 Images Added to Library's Go-Go Archive

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Nearly 2,000 Images Added to Library's Go-Go Archive

The Chip Py Photograph Collection documents Go-Go performances, musicians, celebrities and figures.

Do you remember seeing Rare Essence at Tradewinds? Or maybe you followed Chuck Brown to almost every venue where he performed. If you did, you probably saw a man taking photos on stage. That man is "Chip" Py.  

Since 2010, Py has photographed Go-Go performances around the Washington region. Now customers can view these amazing images at the DC Public Library.

The People's Archive has acquired and cataloged the photo collection of Chip Py as part of the Library's Go-Go Archive. The 1,900-plus photo collection includes concert performances of Rare Essence, Backyard Band, Familiar Faces, Suttle Thoughts, Be'la Dona, and Da Mixx Band. The collection also includes photos of Chuck Brown's for whom Py was one of Brown's official photographers in the final year of his life.

"I knew while capturing these images and seeing for myself the rich culturally significant experience that Go-Go is for the people of DC, that these images would be an important representation of the importance of Go-Go the music as well as Go-Go the culture is to the people of the DC,” said Chip Py. “I wanted to make sure they went to a place where they would be preserved forever. When the Library reached out, I was incredibly pleased because the images I captured of Go-Go musicians and Go-Go fans will be preserved forever as part of DC history.”

“The Library is thrilled to add the Chip Py Photograph Collection to the growing Go-Go Archive,” said Derek Gray, archivist at the DC Public Library. “The People’s Archive connects the public to the resources that illustrate the District’s local history and culture, and this collection tells a rich story about Go-Go music and the many people who love it.”

Starting August 18, the Chip Py Photograph Collection viewable on Dig DC, the Library's web portal for selected digitized and born-digital items from The People's Archive. On this site, Library staff have digitized the images and added information about each photo so that customers can easily search, cross reference and download images.

The Chip Py Photograph Collection is the largest acquisition for the Library's Go-Go collection to date. The collection captures bands that were pivotal to the music. In addition, it showcases the energy of a live performance. Because of this collection, the Library can offer people more information on Go-Go music and its connection to the region.  

A style of funk that originated in Washington in the 1970s, Go-Go is known for heavy bass, driving percussion and call-and-response. The genre is one of the most popular music forms in the city. In memory of music icon Chuck Brown, the DC Public Library established a Go-Go Archive in 2012 to honor, preserve, teach and enjoy DC's original music. The Archive captures both well-documented and lesser-known stories from groups like organizations, record labels, houses, venues, festivals, record shops, radio stations and artists.

Before acquiring Chip Py’s photo collection, the Library had more than 20 linear feet of materials, but very few photos. With this acquisition, the Archive now has nearly 2,000 images documenting performances, musicians, celebrities and figures in the Go-Go community.

To learn more about the Chip Py Photograph Collection, and the Library's work to preserve the history of Go Go, click here.