ESG embarks on final funky fete 

click to enlarge A family affair: In the 1990s, ESG expanded to include the band members’ daughters and nieces. - COURTESY PHOTO
  • Courtesy photo
  • A family affair: In the 1990s, ESG expanded to include the band members’ daughters and nieces.

ESG is legendary — whether you know it or not.

Bound by beats and blood, the Scroggins sisters formed seminal punk-funk band Emerald, Sapphire and Gold — better known as ESG — in the late 1970s.

Now embarking on its final tour and slated to release an album called “Closure,” ESG’s last West Coast appearance will be Saturday at Mezzanine in The City.

“We’ve been doing this for nearly 30, 40 years,” Renee Scroggins says. “The travel and the wear and tear is beginning to affect the body.”

Siblings Renee, Marie and Valerie will only be together for the San Francisco show, a rare treat because the band’s original lineup hasn’t performed in several years.

The South Bronx, N.Y. sisters’ first release in 1981 had a unique sound that influenced artists across genres.

The ESG tune “UFO” is one of the most sampled tracks in hip-hop, used by the likes of Public Enemy, LL Cool J, the Notorious B.I.G. and DJ Shadow.

Scroggins doesn’t fully understand the fervor that surrounded the sampling of ESG’s music.

“I’ve listened to the songs that sample ‘UFO,’ and sometimes it really doesn’t even fit in there, if you ask me,” she says.

“One time I talked to a rapper and he said, ‘There’s just something about that guitar. It says something to you,’” Scroggins says. “I’m like, ‘OK — I hope it says for you to pay me!’”

In fact, the surge of sampling led the ladies to release the EP “Sample Credits Don’t Pay Our Bills” in 1992.

Controversy surrounding copyright laws took its toll on Scroggins.

“I’ve been very skeptical of putting instrumentals on new releases since ‘UFO’ was sampled like crazy,” she says. “I get nervous like, ‘Oh god, who’s going to sample this? Who’s going to just take it and claim it as their own?’”

ESG wasn’t paid for the samples for about 20 years, until the law finally caught up with technology in the music-making sector.

Lucky for fans, however, Scoggins has penned two instrumentals for the final album. She says to expect “a lot of funky tunes.”

ESG’s stripped-down, yet heavily rhythmic sound, can be aggressive, a la punk rock, at times. Though the group’s music has been labeled various ways, Scroggins just wants to move people — literally.

“The thing that makes me the happiest is just seeing the audience go wild — cut loose and feel good,” she says. “It’s music that makes you want to dance.”

Dedicating every live performance to their mother, the ladies of ESG knew they had something special when, “More than anything, our mom was happy with it [the music],” Scroggins says.

Mom was right.

juliachan@sfexaminer.com



IF YOU GO

ESG

Presented by No Way Back

Where: Mezzanine, 444 Jessie St., S.F.
When: 9 p.m. Saturday
Tickets: $10 to $25
Contact: www.nowaybackesg.eventbrite.com
Note: 21+

Pin It
Favorite

More by Julia B. Chan

Latest in Pop Music & Jazz

Friday, Aug 28, 2015

Videos

Most Popular Stories

© 2015 The San Francisco Examiner

Website powered by Foundation