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Monday, June 02, 2008

Bo Diddley truly one of the greats has moved on to that great big gig in the sky.

This was the review of the Bo Diddley show I was lucky enough to
attend at George Mason University's Center for the Arts on November 4,
2006. It was a real treat.

Bo Diddley: The Originator Shows Off His Originality

Monday, November 6, 2006; C02

Ladies, a question: If a 77-year-old man pledged to "make your body
shake / Like a California earthquake," would you believe him?

You would if he were Bo Diddley, who made this and a dozen other
equally audacious promises Saturday night during an hour-long set at
George Mason University's Center for the Arts. "The Originator" took
longer to reach his stool in the center of the stage than he probably
used to but proved once he got there that the power of his baritone is
undimmed after five decades in show business, as is his ability to
command an audience.

Diddley spent most of his opening number, 1955's "Bo Diddley,"
fiddling with the knobs on his amp, teasing us with brief shots of the
harplike tones of his distinct rectangular guitar. Pronouncing the
crowd "too quiet," he ordered the house lights turned up so he could
see "who I'm workin' to."

Then, riding herd over an ace four-piece band (including
guitarist-vocalist Alvin Youngblood Hart, who opened the show with
Ruthie Foster), Diddley powered through muscular versions of "I'm a
Man" and "Crackin' Up" before moving on to a keenly observed
exploration of the complexities of male-female relationships. The
title? "Shut Up, Woman." As he sang the refrain, Diddley pretended to
dodge imaginary items thrown from the audience, just in case lines
like "My name is Daddy Whip Cream" weren't enough to let us know he
was kidding -- kind of.

Humor was a huge part of the show, but there was vague political
commentary, too, in the form of "Wake Up, America," a new(ish) song
for which Diddley commanded the crowd to stand. But best of all was
the hip-hop (!) number: "Lots of people sayin' old folks can't rap /
My name's Bo Diddley, I ain't takin' no nap!" Diddley's rhythmically
impeccable delivery of the sexual boasts that followed made clear he
can claim authorship to more than one genre of pop music. P. Diddy, it
turns out, has nothing on B. Diddley.

-- Chris Klimek

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