LISTEN TO MY HEARTBEAT is a documentary that examines the gentrification of Washington, D.C., but through the lens of the city's folkloric music, Go-Go. Go-Go has echoed through the city from the Civil Rights Movement until today. The music is one of a few active American Folkloric cultures. Amid the gentrification of the city, city officials have surged a crackdown on Go-Go culture. Much like the black residents of the city, Go-Go has been evicted. Evicted without notice. Part rock doc, part political thriller the film examines a changing city, the people displaced, and the future of the music that gave them a voice.
The film blends the stories of characters with differing perspectives on the changing city and the future of Go-Go. These include established Go-Go bands like Rare Essence who are trying to find a place for Go-Go on the national music scene, and younger bands like TOB who see Go-Go as a way to give voice to DC’s youth and channel their energy in positive directions.
Go-Go antagonists in the film include Jim “Go-Go Sheriff” Graham, an ex-City Councilman who pulled the liquor licenses of Go-Go clubs and required venues to obtain a slew of permits that hadn’t previously been in place.
One of the people fighting this development is Trayon White, a community organizer who was just elected to represent Ward 8 in the City Council. Trayon’s family members were drug dealers but he took a different path and became a community activist. Trayon grew up on Go-Go music and is an ally to the culture. “Go-Go gave me a voice and a chance to talk about what was going on in the community, when local politicians wouldn’t return my calls.” As 2017 arrives and Trayon takes office, can he deliver on the promises he made to the poor residents of Ward 8? Can Go-Go bands survive as the musicians lose their housing and music venues are pushed to the suburbs? Washington, D.C. is at a crossroads with Go-Go music and politics riding shotgun.
Funded by Washington, DC (December 2017)