The band Rare Essence is legendary in DC. They have an endearing origin. Rare Essence was formed in 1976 when four middle school friends decided to become a band. As the friends practiced every day after school, their band began to grow and their musical vision became more clear: they were a go-go band. This sub-genre of funk already had its roots in DC African American culture, particularly through the genius of musician Chuck Brown. Rare Essence started consistently drawing local crowds three years after the founding of the band, but their recognition would only grow from there.
The music Rare Essence plays can only be described as infectious. A mix of funk, blues, and old school hip-hop, they play with energy and soul each and every time they greet a stage. They work their magic with drums, keyboards, synthesizers, cowbells, guitars, saxophones, and much more.
The American American Museum of History and Culture, which is celebrating their first anniversary of establishment this weekend, recognizes the importance of Rare Essence. Not only is the band representative of DC culture as a whole, but it showcases DC African American musical talent and innovation. At the museum, visitors can choose to listen to a Rare Essence cover of Ashlee Simpson’s “Pieces of Me” as they flip through musical samples on a huge, interactive screen. Many locals of DC will smile instinctively when they see the band name come up on the screen.
Rare Essence is considered one of the best live shows in DC, and after four decades they’re still playing! Most of the venues are located right here in DC and not far from our DC Accommodation. Check out their show schedule here.
Listen to Rare Essence play for NPR’s Tiny Desk series below: