"Everybody Welcome."

So proclaimed a key line in the middle of a two-column advertisement on Page 4-A of the Feb. 16, 1969, News and Courier.

The entire pitch:

Henry Smith Presents

At Charleston's County Hall

Sunday, Feb. 16th, 8:30 p.m.

Advance Admission, $4; At Door, $5; Children under 12, 99 cents

Everybody Welcome

A Show for the Entire Family

James "Mr. Dynamite" Brown

18-Piece Band And His Revue

Tickets on sale at Miller's Drugs and usual places

"Mr. Dynamite" had already graced County Hall numerous times.

That same ad had already run several times in the previous two weeks.

So had that "Everybody Welcome" message.

And in 1969, that was a reassuring invitation to white folks wrongly suspecting that only black folks were welcome at a James Brown concert.

"The Hardest Working Man in Show Business" routinely reached - and still reaches - across ethnic lines, on and far beyond King Street.

Regardless of skin color, those of us lucky enough to attend one of his County Hall performances didn't just see and hear a glorious force of rhythm-and-blues nature backed by a jam-tight band with a thumping rhythm section and soaring horns.

We saw that despite the extreme racial tensions of our era and region, people of all colors could have fun together when "The Godfather of Soul" shifted into high gear.

And yes, this was still a "show for the entire family." Brown didn't reach No. 15 on the Billboard chart with "Get Up (I Feel Like Being a) Sex Machine (Part 1)" until 18 months later.

There was a time

County Hall isn't in "Get On Up," a compelling new movie about Brown.

Yet the unique "groove" he sought - and delivered - as composer, lyricist, singer and dancer lives anew during the film's spot-on numbers, including an exhilarating ride on the "Night Train."

Back when Brown put County Hall crowds into locomotion on that track, he even worked "Charleston" into the city-by-city lyrics.

OK, so "Get On Up," directed by Tate Taylor, produced by among others Mick Jagger and starring Chadwick Boseman in a terrific portrayal of "Soul Brother No. 1," is depressingly dark in many scenes.

Hey, it had to be to get it right. And Taylor actually skipped, or glossed, over some of Brown's worst moments.

Born in Elko, he was abandoned by both parents during a dirt-poor childhood along the South Carolina-Georgia border. He was a hard guy to get along with, live with and work for.

He eventually descended into destructive substance abuse and trouble with the law before dying on Christmas Day 2006 at age 73 in Atlanta.

That doesn't make "Get On Up" an overall downer, though. A rousing blend of R&B, soul, rock and funk redeems it.

Back to County Hall:

When a white 15-year-old in Charleston went there to see James Brown in 1969, he got an instant lesson in what it's like to be in the minority. But as the music's magic cast its spell, my initial race-based jitters faded.

That same year, my eye-opening odyssey began as the keyboard player in a white soul band (the Malibus) that backed up black singing groups, often in black night clubs. That wild journey through six states drove home this lasting lesson:

No race has a monopoly on smart, stupid, talented, untalented, sweet, cruel - or funky.

Our band even played "Cold Sweat" and "It's a Man's, Man's, Man's World" - both of which get inspiring, authentic revivals in "Get On Up."

Please, please, please

Back to that movie: It shows Brown insisting on going on with the show at Boston Garden on April 5, 1968 - the night after the Rev. Martin Luther King was murdered in Memphis.

Shock, grief and rage were triggering fire and violence in many major U.S. cities.

But not on that special night in Boston, where Brown's concert was televised live. The film captures how he averted a potentially tragic clash between the authorities and his fans. Excited audience members started jumping on stage to groove to the beat with him. Nervous police got increasingly rough in removing them.

Then the star attraction played peace-maker, reasoning with the white cops to ease up - and with his impromptu black dance partners to get on up and off the stage.

Ten months later, "Mr. Dynamite" brought his unifying spectacle back to County Hall.

In between, he had a No. 10 Billboard hit in September 1968 with "Say It Loud - I'm Black And I'm Proud (Part 1)." That was another timely message - and not just for black people.

So if you missed the astounding live act of "Mr. Dynamite" at County Hall, you're too late. Both he and that grand old venue are gone.

But you can still get on up and go see "Get On Up."

And yes, everybody's welcome.

Frank Wooten is assistant editor of The Post and Courier. His email is wooten@postandcourier.com.