“Date Night” with Zo!
featuring Deborah Bond
Nick Hakim, Guy Lockard
and Guest DJ
Based on the 1967 film “To Sir, With Love” starring Sidney Poitier, we celebrate and honor President Barack Obama with a creative twist.
Join us for a night of revelry that includes food, djs, live music performances and inauguration-inspired cocktails, all done with a 1960’s mod twist.
Attire: Attendees are encouraged to come in their best 1960’s mod-inspired evening look.
Zo! feat. Deborah Bond
Space is limited. Advance purchase and early arrival,
Montserrat House, 2016 9th St. NW, Washington D.C. 20001 | Sunday, January 20, 2013 | 8p-12a
Going back home to perform always seems to disturb my already dysfunctional “sleep-pattern”… I can never get enough rest the night before a Detroit performance – whether it’s a solo show or one with The Foreign Exchange. It’s actually very similar to preparing for a huge game…at home – YET it’s even more special than that because there’s a “we’ve missed you” factor on both sides that can be added into the equation now since I’m not living in the area anymore. As a matter of fact, the only sleep I participated in before this show occurred on the one hour-ten minute flight from Baltimore to Detroit. I was OUT and do not remember taking off at all.. But, I DO remember being awakened by that ridiculously hard ass landing executed by our pilot. I’m talking the type of landing that has been known to make you look extra crazy in public as your sudden waking up from a deep sleep while fighting the air tends to be accompanied by various random, yet well-placed expletives …..I’m not saying this happened to ME on this particular flight, but I’ve heard that’s how it goes down sometimes and you know, uhh… well…… ANYWAY, upon our arrival to DTW Airport, we were to be picked up and taken to the hotel located right along the Detroit Riverwalk. Kush El-Amin (bassist), Deborah Bond (vocalist) and I all walked off of the plane safely and randomly ran into Tim Scott Jr. (drummer) in the baggage claim area. We then caught up to our driver a few minutes later after letting the organizers know that we had arrived into town. The driver was cool as all hell and seemed to be a music head. He also began to hit us with a couple of hilarious quotables and stories… including the one explaining why he wasn’t allowed back on our hotel’s property. We were all in the van like, *crickets*….. But the brotha got us everywhere we needed to be on time… We just had a bit of a walk ahead of us when we were dropped off on the far side of that hotel damn near by the Jim Crow entrance.
After introducing Kush and Deborah to one of my most frequented sammich spots when I lived in MI, *sings* “Tubbyyyy’s Submariiiiiines,” the crew hit up soundcheck at our scheduled time and as I walked up to the stage I could immediately tell that it was about to be a reunion for me… The first person I ran into was Monica Blaire (featured on “MakeLuv2Me”) and right behind her was vocalist, L’Renee whom I hadn’t seen since I moved to Maryland at the beginning of 2006. Then up walked Dwele, who I’ve known since 2003 and would sometimes even jam out with him in Slum Village’s old stomping grounds, Barak Studios in Southfield, MI. He and I got to catch up a bit during his soundcheck… meanwhile, I realized that I knew a few people in his band including drummer Eric “Rain Man” Gaston, keyboardist Brandon “Showtime” Bland, background singer J. Tait, and saxophonist LaDarrel “Saxappeal” Johnson who has played alongside Sy Smith and I twice, at our Detroit (February ’12) and New York City (May ’12) shows. To say that I felt right back at home would be a huge understatement… Now when you’re around all of that talent, not only is there a strong sense of camaraderie but also a feeling of friendly competition as well, which as a former baseball player is something that I will probably never shy away from. It’s natural because you always want to sound your best in front of your peers. With that being said, we sounded our best for about 15 minutes because we were forced into knocking out one of the shortest soundchecks in life (Arrested Development, whose flight was severely delayed had arrived and was on the side of the stage waiting to check after us and the doors were due to open soon after). After our 15 minutes of fame during soundcheck, we made our way back to the hotel for about an hour of down time before it was time to head on back to Chene Park and hit the stage for real this time around.
As we rolled back to the venue in preparation for the night’s performance…let’s just say I was a tad bit beyond ready. Momma Zo! had already sent me a text saying that she, Pops Zo!, my sister and her boyfriend were already there and seated. Meanwhile, I was backstage in full out clown mode in order to distract myself from the fact that I was anxious as hell to get out there and murder this +FE set. My adrenaline was on 12 AND I had the nerve to be sipping on a can of Red Bull. Yeah, I know…But I told y’all, show preparation very much parallels getting ready for a big game. Aaaaand, then the time finally came for us to walk out on stage… I arrived at my keyboard rig and started to get everything set up… I then began hearing people start to call my name from the crowd…
“WE LOVE YOU ZO!!!”
Monica Blaire was there hosting the show along with Suga Rae stopped and said,
“Oh… Do we have some Zo fans in here?”
Adrenaline now on 14.
It was finally time to start up and with only 40 minutes to show our people a helluva time, we knew we had to be on level 10 fresh outta the gate……. And that’s exactly what happened. From the jump, the music felt really good, the crowd was with us the entire time, my hands felt loose on the keys, and the added bonus….. I received a standing ovation during our individual introductions, which just put the show over the top for me. Some of y’all have heard me talk some about hometown love and how unbelievable of a feeling it is to get it… This episode was no different. And the fact that my parents and sister were in the crowd both times that it has happened?… Maaaan, come on nah!!
After leaving the stage ablaze by playing what I thought was one of our best sets this year, I decided to try and head out into the crowd so that I could see my family and check out Dwele and Arrested Development’s shows. Man, I got into the crowd and was greeted by friends, fans, and even a few folks I went to high school with whom I had not seen since high school (’96 if ya nosy ass needed to know). Hell, those folks still know me as a baseball player! I found my family in the crowd via “text GPS” a/k/a “Where y’all at?! / We’re right here!!” guidance. My sister and Momma Zo! were rockin’ the crispy ciel blue Zo! T-shirts while Pops came with the suit and tie combo, per usual. ‘Twas all hugs and pictures as I was soon joined by Sy and Deborah not too long afterward. We proceeded to chop it up with my family and enjoy the remainder of the show…. But uhhh, one of the highlights and my personal favorite moments of the entire night was watching +FE’s Director of Operations, Aimee Flint hit the “Baba Oje dance” (skip to 3:36) in the stands with us at the end of Arrested Development’s “People Everyday”… And y’all know exactly what I’m talkin’ about too – the dance he does at the end of said video to accompany his chanting. She had the shit down PAT!!! We were loving it so much, we couldn’t do anything but join her…
Ok now… The post-show meal came in the form of one of my favorite Downtown Detroit spots…. Bucharest Grill. Phonte and Tim Scott Jr. became instant believers after I successfully put on to their famous chicken shawarmas. C’LAWD!!!!!! Those two brovahs damn near cleaned their plates by the time I had returned back to our table from the bar with drainks! The Bucharest meal accompanied by a strong rum & coke was an excellent ending to another near perfect day and performance by The Foreign Exchange. I’m always looking forward to the next one… Detroit, we love y’all and we’ll see you again in 2013…!!!
For many urban blacks, the election of Barack Obama as President of the United States signified the epitome of crossover achievement. The infusion of culturally inclusive African-American style into mainstream popular culture feels like the harbinger of a brand new time. You remember this era’s precedent, a moment best defined by German producer Harold Faltermeyer’s handling of a minor key synth progression making Eddie Murphy into an iconic film legend. Add in some body rolling and questionable fashion choices from 30 years ago? The spotlights of the past meet the floodlights of the present here. Axel F is not just a showcase of music, but possibly one of America’s most ultimate showcases of the universal crossover potential of African-American excellence.
Ex-Washington Post journalist and now full-time deejay Rhome “DJ Stylus” Anderson refers to the party as “a mix of ‘lazer boogie,’ ‘Jheri curl funk’ and ‘champagne soul.’” It’s a celebration of the storm of post-disco crossover R & B, Detroit techno and the Minneapolis sound’s early 80s takeover. Kevin Saunderson, Juan Atkins and Derrick May’s down tempo electro funk was a staple of so many pop radio crossover hits of the era. Furthermore, you can’t tell the story of the 80s without Teena Marie, Prince, Morris Day, Jimmy Jam or Terry Lewis. Stylus continues, “I was hanging out one day with (fellow Axel F resident deejays) Jahsonic and Adrian Loving, and we realized that there were so many classic R & B jams that nobody really played out anymore. We wanted to change that, and for the past year I think we have.”
SoulBounce.com just unveiled its “Hot 16: SoulBounce’s Best Albums of 2011” which gave ‘end of the year’ props to my …just visiting three EP as well as my brother Phonte’s Charity Starts At Home… one of my favorite people IN music Deborah Bond’s Madam Palindrome album… and the family affair album and DVD that featured +FE’s entire live collective The Foreign Exchange’s Dear Friends: An Evening With The Foreign Exchange.
We may live in a singles-driven, pick-what-songs-you-want-from-the-menu world now, but there’s nothing like buying an album and letting it play straight through. No skips. No pressing stop to listen to something else. Just letting it ride out and getting lost in the groove. That’s the sign of a good album, and 2011 had its fair share. That’s why narrowing down all of the albums that we had in heavy rotation at SBHQ was quite a task, but we whittled our collective favorites down to a Hot 16 to present SoulBounce’s Best Albums of 2011. We started out the year anticipating many of them, but a few snuck in to surprise us with just how undeniably great they were. We have high expectations for another banner year for progressive urban music ahead, but not before looking back on the exceptional year that was and our Hot 16 plus a long list of albums that deserve honorable mentions. Be sure to come back tomorrow to find out which one of these albums will receive our Album of the Year nod during our annual SoulBounce Honors. Read the full article
…just visiting three can ALSO be found twice on the “Hot 16: SoulBounce’s Best Songs of 2011” for “Playing Your Game, Baby” featuring Anthony David and “Marzipan” featuring Eric Roberson and Phonte. It also makes an appearance on the ‘Honorable Mention’ list for “Everything She Wants” featuring Phonte.
Oh 2011, where, oh where, did you go? It seems like just yesterday that we here at SBHQ were lamenting the slow start to the year and hoping that the remainder would make up for it. Well, we definitely weren’t disappointed with the vast majority of what we heard. These past 12 months have brought us new music from old faves and a slew of new faves to join them, and our list of SoulBunce’s Best Songs of 2011 reflects that. If you’ve been following SoulBounce this year, then some of these selections should be no-brainers, but there are few surprises to be had.
In the past, each editor has posted their own year-end top 10 list of songs, but in an effort to streamline the process the staff of SoulBounce has combined all of our eclectic tastes together into one Hot 16. We may or may not have had a Love & Hip Hop style brawl to narrow this list down to just 16 songs, but not to worry because a list of honorable mentions is included as well. Without further delay, see what tunes made our Best Songs of 2011, and stay tuned for SoulBounce Honors 2011 where we’ll crown one of these as Song of the Year. Read the full article
On paper, a night featuring heralded underground soul songstress N’Dambi and local DC cause celebre with national trending aspirations Zo! (government name Lorenzo Ferguson) sounds like a recipe for success. The two artists represent the twin hopes for traditional rhythm and blues style in the 21st century. N’Dambi, a former backup singer for Erykah Badu, carries forth the Nona Hendryx meets Nina Simone style artistry of her mentor, music as art, art as music, a funky melange of rock and soul. Zo!, alongside his Foreign Exchange Records supported “Sunstorm All Stars” supporting cast is a producer, composer and songwriter par excellence, a little bit of Isaac Hayes, a little bit of Smokey Robinson, with a spoonful of Ramsey Lewis tossed in for good measure, a feel good sultry blend of adult contemporary music. He’s not concerned with popping bottles, he’s concerned with getting deeper into the heart of the matter. However, on this night in Washington, DC, what was drawn up on paper, failed to materialize, as a night with the best of intentions fell short of their destination.
This is not to say that it was a night that was without spellbinding performances. Zo and his Sunstorm All Stars are the best live act in soul music today. Having witnessed their live show twice this year, it’s easily the best ticket in the genre. It has everything you’d expect from the more mainstream side of R & B, just not wrapped in a broadcloth of tawdry behavior. This is classic music by extremely talented musicians who know what that means. Lead single from Zo’s latest album Sunstorm, “This Could Be The Night” is a sensual jam with a George Benson swing, meaning that for more modern ears, it recalls Montell Jordan’s “Get It On Tonight,” in that it’s grown and sexy without being debased. The set features the ever dapper Ferguson behind a dual decker keyboard and organ, a consummate band leader, leading his charges through a tightly produced set that highlights exquisite artistry. Though Monica Blaire was not present, Deborah Bond’s take on the 11 minute suite “Make Love To Me” was absolutely magical. The song is a moody jazz winner, allowing for a virtuoso female vocalist to improvise and reach an orgasmic peak under the blanket of restrained elegance. If not aware, it is the year’s finest soul performance, and absolutely worthy of consideration for achievement.
This is not to say that the performance by the Grammy nominated N’Dambi was by any means without merit. She’s a toned statuesque rock star with great presence and a glorious red dyed afro/mohawk. Her album Pink Elephant is a heartfelt, earnest and well meaning melancholy burner of a soul record. Owing a great deal more to a bohemian aesthetic than the uptown swing of Ferguson, the performance was not entirely well received by a crowd who had been inspired to move, groove, get turned on and turned out by the Sunstorm All-Stars. If she followed a more muted performer, the likelihood of an entire room being captivated by her would have occurred, however this was not the case. Opener “L.I.E.,” a tale of a cheating male who travels to his lady loves along both ends of the thoroughfare is excellent, as was the single most responsible for Pink Elephant’s success, “Can’t Hardly Wait.” In abiding by a performance standard that involves a loose band performance, and an insistence upon intimate discussion, for the N’Dambi loyalist, it was an ideal environment. However, if looking to be blown away by a performance, that would appear to not be her strongest suit as a live artist. Adopting some of the more captivating aspects of the live performance of her mentor Ms. Badu is an absolute necessity.
Overall, this was a phenomenal evening of diverse styles of soul music. However, in slotting the honed and crafted Sunstorm All-Stars in front of the thinking woman’s sensual bohemain jam session of N’Dambi, the night was a study in styles instead of a fully realized total night of complete entertainment.
On Friday December 10th, I’ll be presenting my latest release, SunStorm LIVE along with my band, vocalists Kenny Wesley, Deborah Bond, and my brovah from anothah, Phonte. This will take place at the Black Cat in Washington D.C. opening for Dallas-bred vocalist, N’Dambi. I hope to see a lot of you all there as this will be a helluva show…!!