Team Familiar has earned a reputation for being one of the District’s most talented go-go bands, pumping out its pulsating sounds and pulsating rhythms for well over 20 years.
And in their quest to expand their horizons and reach even more fans of the musical genre whose roots can be traced to the greater Washington area, Team Familiar just returned from a recent engagement in several Nigerian cities at the behest of Prince Ayotunde Adebayo-Isadipe, a brother of Yoruba ancestry. Prince Ayotunde, who’s lived in the U.S. since 2002, heard the group play earlier this year and secured a special invitation for the band from Nigerian royalty: Ooni (King) of Ife.
And so, band members D. Floyd, Go-Go Mickey, Maquis “Quisy” Melvin and Sean Geason, along with a team of needed supporters, took their show on the road for what Team Familiar’s leader/owner Donnell (D. Floyd) Floyd heralds as “an incredible experience exceeding anything I could have imagined.”
“My mom was a civil rights activist so as a child, I was in tune with the Back to Africa Movement. “I’d been to Africa twice prior to this trip. But going as the guest of a king and performing for him was something entirely different,” D. Floyd said, adding that the king has also commissioned the group to write a song about their pilgrimage.
“I’ve always felt a strange connection between go-go and African music. And while some, including Chuck Brown himself, were reluctant to acknowledge the similarities, I’ve always believed it’s impossible to deny. The heavy bass and percussion – the African drum – they are the same and they’re the foundation for go-go and African music. Percussion is the heart of go-go. After that, different groups just put something else on top: Chuck used jazz; Team Familiar uses R&B; and the Backyard Band puts rap on the top.”
During the band’s visit, D. Floyd says they even had a chance to vibe with Femi Kuti, the son of the legendary musical pioneer and social activist Fela Kuti.
“Listening to Femi Kuti persuaded me to be even more aggressive with my percussion. We’ve tended to back off from hitting it too hard but that brother does just the opposite. I’ve got to let it flow even more,” said D. Floyd, who often reminds you that he’s a proud D.C. native.
But how did Team Familiar introduce their unique, engaging sound on the continent?
“There are three things that make our sound different,” D. Floyd noted. “First, the percussion serves as the basis of everything we do. Then, like a DJ, we don’t stop. We keep playing from one song to the next. Third, we have the call and response. It’s funny, because that’s really what connects us to African music. The African drums back in the 1800s and even before that, would speak and send messages from village to another. The drums would tell the story. That’s what makes us brothers – the drums, the percussion, the call and response – the beat.”