Zo! + Sy Smith in Paris… 03.05.11
I’ll start by saying this: I have only been to Paris three times, but in those few visits my adoration for the city increases each time. This past visit and show proved to be one helluva testament to this city’s proper treatment of the artists that come through and play.
Sy and I were up and out of our London hotel by about 7am to hop on what they called the “tube” (subway train station) at Euston to head one stop northbound on the Victoria Line to King’s Cross, which is where we caught the Eurostar train to Paris. Being as though I purposely stayed up the entire night before, once we found our seats, I remember cracking a couple of jokes here and there……..and then I was OUT. The next thing I remember clearly was stopping in Paris for what turned out to be the quickest two-hour train ride in my entire life. I kind of staggered along and went through the motions while grabbing my bags and walking through the train station. It finally hit me: “Ummm… you MIGHT wanna start looking out for the promoter so you know where the hell y’all are going!” Just as I looked up to see if I noticed a “Sy Smith / Zo” handwritten sign, I noticed someone standing there holding our promo poster! Wow… It was our promoter Manuelle waiting to greet and walk us over to our hotel. When we got there, she checked us in and made sure everything went through without any problems and asked us if we would meet her back down in the lobby to go over the next two days… Impressive. Upon meeting back up, she took us over to the Bizz’art venue so that we were able to check it out. Our posters and advertisements were plastered all over the place. Then she asked the magic question… “Are you hungry?” And to be honest, I wasn’t even that hungry… But dammit, this was Paris… and I wanted something to eat. So I requested just a sandwich of some sort, nothing major… just something small. Manuelle said that she knew of a place right around the corner that would be perfect. We walked over to a small spot around the corner from the venue where the guys working there seemed to know Manuelle fairly well – I saw this as a great thing, meaning they would take care of Sy and I too. With that being said, one of the guys asked me what I wanted and I requested a sandwich. I didn’t know what I was in for… He pointed out a type of beef that he stated was very good… I told him to slice it up!! He then began to list the cheeses they had available… I was so excited that I chose TWO! “Yes! Put mozzarella AND parmesan cheese on there!” The next thing I knew, he started talking about one of my weakness foods… Sun-dried tomatoes. My excitement ALMOST got the best of me as I felt like cussing dude out while ordering…
…But I held back and just decided to order them in a civilized fashion. What I took back to the hotel with me was too worthy of being called just a sandwich… That joint was a SAMMICH. I grabbed some cheddar and chives chips, me and Sy split a bottle of red wine at the hotel and lunch was served. …Pardon the bite, taking the picture was SECOND on the priority list next to my wanting to take care of the food.
After completing an interview, we had good cry laugh listening to a Bizzy Bone interview that my boy Asylum 7 and I used to listen to and quote rather regularly. After that, the rest of the day was ours to do whatever with. So later on that night, we grabbed dinner at a spot right across the street from the hotel called Le Chateau Landon. Our waiter looked like a French Mario Brother… Dude had the handlebar mustache and everything. For me, he recommended the ribeye steak, which I ordered with a pepper sauce, cheese sauce, and a small salad. ALL of it was good. I even ate some of the fish off of Sy’s plate and knocked out some those fries…
The day of the show began with me going downstairs into the hotel lobby and taking advantage of its free breakfast, which included… Croissants!!! I went down there and took care of about 4-5 of them and being that my sleep schedule in Europe is always ridiculously off, I went to bed after my meal and ended up waking up late to meet Manuelle and Sy for lunch at 1pm. I got myself together in record time after receiving the “where you at” call from Sy at about 1:15 or so. After rushing down to the lobby, Manuelle walked us to a spot on the way to the venue where she treated us to wine and some great food. I had a dish that combined whitefish with mashed potatoes, which I had NEVER seen before… The fish was mashed in WITH the potatoes with peppercorns on top of it, it was kinda crazy… but tasted wonderful. From there we walked over to Bizz’art where we were to meet up with the musicians and get a rehearsal in with them before the show. Now, I had already heard great things about these kats from N’Dambi and her manager, but to hear how good they sounded at that rehearsal as well as witnessing their preparation… I was thoroughly impressed. Kats had iPads with their charts in them, the keyboard player had all of the sounds he was gonna use for each song pre-programmed in his laptop. The drummer took the time to make sequences of EACH SONG just in case we wanted to have a backing track to play over. It is rare to find players who get this far into playing your work. It was just as impressive as it was appreciated by Sy and myself. After running through our set with the fellas, we ventured back to the hotel to change and get ready to give Paris more than their money’s worth of a show. …And then I got a knock on my door…. It was Sy. She looked a bit distraught as she explained to me that she just received word that she lost a good friend of hers who just happened to be Jeff “Fuzzy” Young lead singer of the group Something For the People (“My Love is the Shhh”)… So from that moment on, our two shows were to be a dedication to his life and music. The way that Sy was able to take her grieving and transform it into positive energy used to perform without a hitch was a testament to her talent and extreme professionalism… And THIS is yet another reason why I will forever mess with some damn Sy Smith.
Performance-wise, the show was excellent, particularly for it being our first time performing as a ‘duo.’ We opened with “Nights Over Egypt” and the night continued to improve and progress from there. After absolutely going IN on Sy’s music, we started in on some joints from SunStorm and …just visiting too - Including a piano intro of “Greater Than the Sun,’ which rolled directly into “Greatest Weapon Of All Time.” We were joined on stage by The Roots’ keyboardist Ray Angry during “MakeLuv2Me” which turned out to be One of my favorite moments of the show came when we played “Flight of the Blackbyrd.” Excellent times… The Paris crowd NEVER disappoints as they were once again enthusiastic during the show and excited to meet with us after its completion. Matter of fact, they damn near bought up all of our merchandise leaving us with a limited supply for the next day in London! My only question is… So WHEN CAN WE COME BACK?!