Zo! vs. NAMM 2013

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Sy and I performing in the Lewitt Lounge at NAMM 2013. Photo by Kris Crosby

I pulled up to the Anaheim Convention Center on Saturday looking forward to a full day of checking out some new equipment, connecting with some of my musical brethren, walking around to different exhibits until my feet damn near fell off, and simply making it well worth my time. The first thing I planned to do after picking up my badge was head up to the Lewitt Lounge, meet up with Sy Smith and check out her performance. WELP… Good ole See Smit ended up calling a nice audible at the line real quick by calling me before I even got out of the car…

Me: “What it bee like?!”

Sy: “What it bee like! …Hey Zo…….. You wanna play some keys?”

Me: “Heeeell yeah, I wanna play some keys!”

And there it was. The next thing I knew, I was rushing up to the Lewitt Audio Lounge not to check Sy’s performance, but to become a part of it. Sy Smith & Zo! performing together at NAMM? …Not mad at that at all. I walked in, met the musicians, we put together a short list of songs to perform, talked out some of the music because this was our first time playing as a collective and put on a helluva show if I may say so myself. MAN it was a lotta fun rockin’ out with Lemar Carter on drums, Terron Crayton on bass, and Erick Walls who acted a fool on that guitar. An enthusiastic and very receptive crowd gathered and settled into the room for us and it turned out to be a helluva way to kick off my NAMM 2013 experience.

The crew on stage going to work...

The crew on stage going to work… Photo by Kris Crosby

I got to catch up with a few very important folks… My brother Tim Scott Jr., who I tour with, ya know… fairly often (drummer for The Foreign Exchange) and my homeboys Kristopher Crosby, and LaDarrel “Saxappeal” Johnson (keyboardist and saxophonist, respectively for Detroit-based group Collective Peace)… and then it was off to check out the Moog Music spot to meet face-to-face and shake hands with their artist liaison responsible for bringing me on board with the company. So I walked on over to section 5300 and chopped it up a bit with the good folks at Moog. I even got a chance to play around with their brand new synth unveiled just before NAMM, the Sub Phatty. JUST as I finished playing around with this new ‘toy’ and started kicking around ideas in regards to how to possibly get my hands on one, I started hearing someone playing the harmonica. They weren’t playing blues riffs or anything like that, it was a very distinct style and tone…. I thought to myself, “Naaaaaaah, it couldn’t be”   *shaking my head* “Naaaaaaaaaaaaah, that ain’t him….. That’s not him.” I happened to take a glance over my left shoulder and saw a nice-sized crowd starting to develop….. So, naturally I headed on over to see what the big deal was…. PLUS I wanted to see if my ear was on point or if it was deceiving me. ….And dammit, if I didn’t walk over to the next section and see none other than Stevie Wonder playing the harmonica. Now, for those who don’t know, I’m gonna make this perfectly clear to you: In my humble opinion… as a total artist, Stevie is the greatest of all-time. PERIOD. So, I dropped all of my ‘artist’ shit immediately and instantly went into ‘fan’ mode. I pulled that iPhone out, reached my long ass arm up and began snapping pictures. I would have loved to have met him, but I knew that wasn’t happening with the large number of people he attracted. It was DOPE to hear him play up close like that though. These stories continue to multiply, man… I swear.

Stevie At NAMM2013

The greatest of all-time.

Walked away from the Stevie madness and ventured down a little ways to the Hammond section and there sat legendary organist/pianist Dr. Lonnie Smith who was giving a damn CLINIC on one of the Hammond Organs. And please forgive me, because I’m not familiar with the brother who was playing guitar, but he was KILLIN’. The two of them together were running through a few songs while trading off solos. One helluva(n) experience…

Dr. Lonnie Smith

I hope someone helps me I.D. the brother on the guitar… He and Dr. Lonnie Smith took NO prisoners.

After walking around, trying out new instruments, and talking to folks for another hour or so, I made a one-man executive decision to sit my ass down somewhere in order to avoid my body hating my guts later on in the day. I trooped out of the Convention Center and sat on one of the concrete slabs they have available for folks who care about their bodies not falling apart like I do. I got pretty comfortable and was relaxing a bit, checking up on de Tweet Streets, Facebook, email, etc…. And out walks DJ Rhettmatic and DJ Babu (Dilated Peoples) of The Beat Junkies. Now, I need y’all to understand this first… Me and Rhett have been missing each other on the West Coast for a good three years. Every time I’m out there, he’ll be spinning somewhere and I can’t make it… I’ll have a show and he’s booked up, etc. So, I got up off of that concrete and we finally met face-to-face. And Babu… Shit, I’ve been a Dilated fan since college, so it was dope to meet him and hear him say after Rhett introduced us, “Ohhhh, you work with Phonte, right? Y’all did an album together….” WORD UP, BABU! When kats who you’ve listened to forever know some of your work?? That’s ALWAYS dope. As I always say, you never know who’s listening… and possibly enjoying your material. Very humbling.

NAMM 2013… You were good to me. I hope the current year will earn me an invitation to 2014’s event…. That would be…uhhh….well…. Pretty alright.

NAMM 2013

NAMM 2013

The Foreign Exchange Presents +FE Music: The Reworks

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I have been hinting at the fact that I have something on the upcoming +FE Remix project, well… the official announcement has been made. There’s a helluva line-up of music here as you read through the tracklisting AND the lead single “So What If It Is” is available for free download. This double-disc is available for pre-order NOW and will be released on February 26, 2013.

Aaaaand 2013 is OFFICIALLY underway…

Taken from The Foreign Exchange’s Site:

Selections from The Foreign Exchange’s +FE Music catalog as remixed by Nicolay, Zo!, 4hero, The Randy Watson Experience (?uestlove & James Poyser), Focus…, Tall Black Guy, Pirahnahead, and more. Includes three new studio tracks. In stores February 26 on +FE Music.

Tracklisting:

Disc 01:

01. The Foreign Exchange- So What If It Is
02. The Foreign Exchange- The Last Fall (Focus… +FE Experience Remix)
03. Zo! feat. Phonte- Flight of the Blackbyrd (4hero Remix)
04. The Foreign Exchange- Fight For Love (Nicky Mendes and Brasil ’66 Remix)
05. Deborah Bond- Say It (Nicolay Remix)
06. The Foreign Exchange feat. Paris & Amber Strother of KING- All The Kisses (Ahmed Sirour Remix)
07. The Foreign Exchange feat. YahZarah- If She Breaks Your Heart (The Randy Watson Experience Remix)
08. The Foreign Exchange feat. Darien Brockington & Median- Maybe She’ll Dream of Me (Pure P’s Sky Hygh Remix)
09. The Foreign Exchange feat. YahZarah- If This Is Love (Nicky Buckingham’s Fleetwood Remix)
10. Vikter Duplaix- Electric Love (Nicolay Remix)
11. Zo! feat. Chantae Cann- All Is Well With Love (Pirahnahead Remix)

Disc 02:

01. Phonte feat. Focus… & Sy Smith- Love Songs
02. The Foreign Exchange feat. Darien Brockington- All or Nothing/Coming Home To You (Pure P’s Midsommarkransen Night’s Dream Remix)
03. RJD2 feat. Kenna- Games You Can Win (Nicolay Remix)
04. Phonte feat. Carlitta Durand- Gonna Be A Beautiful Night (Zo’s Legendary Story of a Star Remix)
05. Jeanne Jolly- Sweet Love (Nicolay Remix)
06. The Foreign Exchange- Don’t Let It Be So
07. Zo! feat. Eric Roberson, Darien Brockington & Phonte- This Could Be The Night (Tall Black Guy Remix)
08. Sy Smith- The Art Of You (Nicolay Remix)
09. Phonte- Ball and Chain (Sheldon Williams Remix)
10. The Hot At Nights- ACSlater (Nicolay Remix)

In the Studio Recording for ‘ManMade’ …..Choklate!

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This was the scene last week in Raleigh, NC. Phonte and I pulled talented vocalist, artist and good friend of ours, Choklate into the studio to record vocals for my ManMade album….

Let’s just say the sessions were extremely successful… Talk about easy to work with!! Choklate was truly in her element while behind that mic…

Zo! – ManMade

Original Music.

Spring 2013.

+FE Music.

Interview with StimulateYourSoul.com – “Passing On Music With Zo!”

By: Margaret Tra • Source: StimulateYourSoul.com

As soulful multi-Instrumentalist and producer from Detroit, Zo! has had the pleasure of working with rapper Phonte from Little Brother, The Foreign Exchange, and more recently with singer Sy, who is also a back-up singer for Sheila-E. You’ll know him from the breathtaking beautiful track ‘If she breaks your heart’ which features in The Foreign Exchange album ‘Leave it all behind.’ I caught with Zo! last year to see what we can expect from his latest project ‘Man Made’ due to release in spring, the most unusual instrument he has used whilst producing, and why he doesn’t want to go to his grave without passing on music. Margaret Tra writes.

Are you just currently on tour, or are you on a break?

We just came off. We just did like a weekend. Three cities, three days, came back yesterday.

How was it?

It was…those joints are tiring! You’re driving, you’re performing, same day, but it’s all, it’s all worth it man.

Sounds like one thing after the next. A lot of shows backed up?

Like 3, 4 hours of sleep each night.

CLICK HERE TO READ FULL INTERVIEW

Meet Mrs. Jacqueline Johnson – My Piano Teacher

Mrs. Johnson and I after my first piano recital - June 15, 1986

Mrs. Johnson and I after my first piano recital – June 15, 1986

You know, when I really sat and thought about it, I had NO idea why my parents decided to get me started with piano lessons. I couldn’t remember if it was to keep me busy with some after school activities or what the original reason was exactly. So tonight, I sent Momma Zo a text asking her about it. Her response was:

“I guess you showed an early interest in music. I had my piano… You present it, stimulate it, and wait to see what happens. …The lessons gave you a good foundation.”

…She may have had a point..

Me at age 2 banging on the piano at home.

Me at age 2 banging on the piano at home.

It's safe to say that I was excited about the piano at this age...

It’s safe to say that I was excited about the piano at this age…

Originally, I took lessons with someone else, but I can’t recall much about it at all… All I remember is that I think the lady lived in Oak Park and overall, I don’t think I took lessons there for a long period of time. Momma Zo told me recently via text that…

“The first teacher didn’t want you to leave because you were doing so well!”

So technically, Mrs. Johnson wasn’t my FIRST piano teacher… But it was her teachings that sustained the greatest amount of impact, by far. She was recommended by the mother one of my 1st or 2nd grade classmates – she taught both my classmate and her older brother. Mrs. Johnson’s house was literally right down the street from us – just a block away. If I remember correctly, we used to go every Monday at 4pm. To my parents, this connection was a multiple win for them because her daughter also ended up becoming the babysitter for my younger sister and I.

I’ll admit it… I wasn’t the easiest student to teach simply because I was a kid who found more pleasure in running around the neighborhood with my friends playing sports, freeze tag, and chasing down the ice cream truck whenever it rolled around. Whenever Moms stepped outside that front door to call me inside to practice on the piano, she was usually met with resistance. It always seemed like she had the world’s most impeccable timing because she used to pick the game’s most intense point to yell out… “LORENZOOOO!!!!”

*throws hands up*

“AWWWWWWW MAAAAAAN!!!! Can we get ONE more game in?!!?!!!?”…….

I would go inside the house angry. All of my friends were still outside having a ball, while I’m having to go inside and practice on this ole dumb ass piano. I wasn’t a fan at all. I would head to the basement, sit down in front of the piano and sloppily go through scales, arpeggios, and the songs I needed to learn and memorize for the week. Now, of course, my 6 or 7-year old logic had me thinking I could get away with practicing for what usually turned out to be 10 minutes, walk back upstairs and Moms would just be okay with that. That same young logic also didn’t explain the fact that through the floor and vents in the house she could hear every single thing I was playing and half-assing on……… Needless to say, she wasn’t buying it at all when I would walk back upstairs, walk up to her and say, “I’m finished!” The moment of truth would always come during the weekly lessons at Mrs. Johnson’s house. I can only imagine how embarrassed my mother was when I would sit down at the piano ill-prepared during lesson time. I get it now… I had not a clue back then. Mrs. Johnson had to have been one patient woman with me because I had more of a hate than love relationship with the piano… I mean, shit…. Some of those songs were DIFFICULT. Plus, at the time, my hands weren’t big enough to reach and play octaves as some of the songs and drills called for. So looking back on it… this era served as a ‘boot camp’ for me on the instrument. Mrs. Johnson challenged me and remained patient through all of my episodes of resistance. She would look at me like…’Alright, cry it on out… But when you finish, we’ve got a song to wrap up.” Thank GOD for her persistence and musical education as well as for my parents’ encouragement to continue because…. well…. now, this is how I make a living.

How crazy is that?

Momma Zo could have let me get my way and allowed me to play outside until that street light came on everyday… Mrs. Johnson could have been someone who simply just gave in to my being hard-headed, but instead she pushed me harder. Maybe they knew something even back then, I don’t know… But whatever it was, today I am GRATEFUL. Not only did it impact my musicianship, but I even utilized some of her “I’m not really feeling any of your excuses” practices when I taught music in the classroom and today while teaching private lessons. While we have since lost touch over the years, but it would be dope if somehow she caught wind of this piece just so she could see how successful she was at influencing her sometimes difficult young piano student.

Someone find Mrs. Jacqueline Johnson for me please as I would LOVE to play for her …I think that’s the least I can do.

The original program from my very first piano recital.

A copy of the original program from my very first piano recital.

January Promotion: ‘…just visiting’ Vinyl + album on .mp3 and CD – *Promotion CLOSED*

...just visiting (2006) Vinyl

…just visiting (2006) Vinyl

For those who have wanted to hear what the FIRST …just visiting album sounds like but don’t happen to have access to a turntable – This month if you purchase …just visiting I will personally email the album’s .mp3 files to the email address provided on the order and I will put the album on a CD for you as well. Of course this is in addition to you receiving the vinyl in the mail as a keepsake…

Purchase …just visiting and receive:

1 – …just visiting on vinyl (only 1,000 copies exist)

1 – …just visiting on CD

1 – …just visiting via .mp3 that I will email to you

BUY ‘…JUST VISITING’ HERE

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This is the first promotion in a line of many that will now be happening monthly. Happy New Year, y’all… Let’s make it a great and healthy one.