2012 in Pictures

"...Give is up for Lorenzo Ferguson a/k/a Zo!, ya'll!!" © Phonte in LA • Photo by Kris Perry (Oct. 2012)

“…Give it up for Lorenzo Ferguson a/k/a Zo!, y’all!!” © Phonte in LA • Photo by Kris Perry (Oct. 2012)

2012 has been another helluva year. I got to do some traveling and play shows in LA, NYC, DC, Chicago, Detroit, Nashville, St. Louis, Bethesda, MD, Greensboro, NC, Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, Columbia MD, Boston, Virginia Beach, Raleigh, Vienna, VA, Memphis, Indianapolis, San Francisco, and Phoenix …..and Durham, NC for this coming New Year’s Eve. I completed my first year as a full-time musician after the school I taught music at closed last year – I was then able to continue teaching by conducting individual piano lessons and workshop to groups of young ones. I began endorsing Moog Music, received another standing ovation during a performance back home in Detroit, and got the bulk of the recording finished for my newest album ManMade. Sy Smith and I did some touring this year playing big solo shows at DC’s Blues Alley and NYC’s Blue Note and received big performance props from Sheila E while I was back on the road with The Foreign Exchange who wrapped up performances for an album we have been touring for two years, Authenticity. I hit my ten-year anniversary of releasing music as well. Outside of all that, it was a fairly quiet twelve months……….

…Looking forward to 2013. Enjoy the photos!!

NYE Celebration with The Foreign Exchange @ The Cotton Room – Durham, NC – December 31, 2012

The Cotton Room and The Art of Cool Project are teaming up to plan a NYE Party of EPIC proportions. This is not your typical NYE party. We are showcasing the BEST musicians in the TRIANGLE. This event is for live music enthusiasts and an upscale, mature crowd looking for a unique live music experience.

General admission gets you:
– Entertainment including headliner THE FOREIGN EXCHANGE (Phonte + Nicolay) with Zo!, Jeanne Jolly and live band.
– Other all-star live performances by the Al Strong Quintet, Marcus Anderson and Yolanda Rabun.
– Guest DJ Apple Juice Kid
– Two of the coolest MCs in #DURM – Toon and The Real Laww
– A chicken-and-waffles breakfast buffet
– General admission seating
– CASH BAR

Cabanas and VIP soft seating options are also available.
Open bar wristband options are available

The Cotton Room

807 East Main Street

Durham NC 27701

(919) 530-8380

Monday, December 31, 2012 at 8:00 PM

Buy Tickets

Zo!’s Top Five Moments of 2011 – #1 Going Home and Receiving A Long Ovation at The Foreign Exchange Show in Detroit

May 8, 2011, Mother’s Day…

The +FE crew and I were set to take the short 2-hour and some change drive to Detroit from Cleveland to play our 4th show of the scheduled seven-show tour of Midwest cities. I was up and ready to go this particular morning as we were creeping up on the show date that I was most anticipating. Going back home to perform is always motivational to me because I’m able to catch everyone up on what I have been up to musically  – The same people who saw me making music out of my bedroom in my parents’ house in what I used to call “Crowded Room Studios,” as there was more music and equipment in that spot than space to move around. To be able to bring new levels of success home to folks who have supported you from day one is truly a blessing… So needless to say, I was a bit anxious for this one. As soon as I found out the show was confirmed, I started to text a couple folks here and there and sent a few DMs via Twitter just to make sure that kats were blocking that date off far in advance because at that time folks kept asking, “When are y’all gonna come to The D?”  …The thing was, May of 2011 wasn’t our first time playing in Detroit. The first +FE show at home was over two years ago in June of 2009 and I remember being hyped up for that one too, but this time was much different. First off, the buzz around the show was crazy and the people who were creating it seemed to be super excited. Secondly, there had been four +FE Music releases since that last show: City Lights 2: Shibuya (Sept. ’09), …just visiting too (Nov. ’09),  SunStorm (Jul. ’10) and Authenticity (Oct. ’10). One thing was starting to become crystal clear to us… Detroit was ready, I just didn’t realize how ready.

I’ll put it like this, I was so amped up about the Detroit show that thinking back on it, I barely even remember the actual drive from Cleveland… I remember stopping once for gas after Toledo, but that’s about it. The next thing I remember is checking in to our hotel and asking, “Ayo, who’s coming to the house before soundcheck?” Our bassist, Kush El-Amin and drummer Tim Scott Jr. said that they would roll so we dropped our stuff off in our rooms and proceeded to head out to my parents’ house. As soon as we walked in, I as I normally do when I get home, went straight for the refrigerator to grab a water and a Faygo Redpop to take with me. But to my surprise, Moms had baked a damn sweet poe-tay-toe pie for our arrival… Yep, I said Poe. Tay. TOE. So, uhhh… the three of us had some pie. ….And uhhh…. y’all thought I was greedy as hell? The brotha T. Scott had two pieces.

After we left my parents’ house, I took the fellas to The Bread Basket for a Rueben and some Better Made chips…  For the record, I am currently salivating just looking at the picture below.

After taking our food to go, we only had enough time to head back to the hotel and pick up the rest of the crew for soundcheck at the Magic Stick. Upon arriving to the venue, I started feeling anxious… At that point I just wanted the show to BEGIN. I hadn’t gone home to play in a year and a half, hadn’t been home with +FE in two… everyone was sounding all extra excited about the show – I was truly on edge……… A GOOD edge. Plus, the entire crew knew how big this show was for me… With all that said, I still wasn’t aware exactly how big.

We headed back to the hotel in order to change and get everything ready to go right back to the venue for the show. I was surprising cool, but I could feel my heart rate noticeably increase before taking the stage. Everybody in the crew was looking at me like, “You ready? Are you ready?” I was ready as hell… Normally, the time that we have backstage usually drags along anyway. But for the hometown show, time seemed to be moving at 120 seconds per minute. …..When we finally took the stage, I was the first to walk out to a sea of Detroit faces. I thought to myself, “This crowd is KILLIN the last one… They’re ready.” We proceded to start the show and the crowd was with us the entire time. During the set, I saw a ton of familiar faces, which made me feel even more at home… But still once again, I wasn’t ready.

Now… for those of you who have ever attended an +FE show, you know that there is a portion set aside during each show where Phonte introduces the entire crew individually… The order is normally: band members, vocalists, and last, of course is Nicolay. Well… for the first time in our touring history, the introduction order was different and to say that it caught me way off guard would be an understatement. Phonte went through and introduced everyone and I noticed that he skipped me… I was thinking, “Ok, he’ll probably do it after Jeanne and Sy.” Welp! After introducing Jeanne Jolly and Sy Smith…. He introduced Nicolay. *blank stare* I wonder if anyone has pictures of my face during that time, I’d like to see them because in my head it was, “Oh shit! WTF?… I’m going LAST at the CRIB? This is crazy….!” The next thing I knew, Phonte told us to cut the music and proceeded to go into my introduction. I’m sure I was standing there looking silly and lost as hell leading up to….

“Give it up for your own… Lorenzo Ferguson a/k/a Zo! y’all!”

The place just got LOUD…….. and I couldn’t do a damn thing but stand there and cheese.  In normal situations, people cheer, yell out, etc. and I’ll show love back by waving, bowing or something to make sure that they know I appreciate them. This time was a little different… Detroit got loud…. Matter of fact, Detroit got loud and HELD it. I was smiling… waving………smiling some more………. waving……  That’s when I first realized, “Oh damn, they’re not stopping!” I was completely in the moment at this point, plus my parents and younger sister were in the audience as well so this just became a helluva moment for me. I didn’t know what to do anymore or how to react – I just started looking around with the “This can’t be real” face on and man, it felt GREAT – SO great that I THEN thought to myself, “Oh ok, I see…. these negroes are tryna make me cry now.” And damn if I didn’t feel a lump in my throat – Man, this ain’t good. I just kept thinking, “Naaaah man, I’m not going… I’m not going. Breeeeeathe.” Of course, the more I thought that…. The louder they seemed to get and the bigger that lump got. THEN, I turned to my left to look at the crew, you know, just to kind of get their take on things and they were no help at all as Sy and Jeanne both had their hands on their mouths in the “Awwwww” position looking like THEY were about to cry. SHIT!! It was settled… I definitely wasn’t looking over at the crew for ANYmore support. The crowd thought they had me though!! – Because after awhile, instinctively I took my cap and covered my face with it while turning around. *sigh* This did nothing but fuel it and made them cheer even louder. Their loud ovation went on for a solid couple of minutes. I know I may seem to be making light of it, but it was by far one of the most unbelievable moments of my music career up to that point. Of course I’ve already had a few of my people jokingly say, “Aw man, you were about to cry, you were about to get emotional?” Maaaaaan listen… You work this hard for this long, keep it up after moving away from home and then return to that type of hometown love… If your throat doesn’t lump up from a reception like that, you may need to check and see if you have a pulse. I have never gotten an ovation like that before or since… That was a moment that left me truly humbled and I will never forget it.

Studio Campfire Stories: “Same Ole Love” (feat. Jeanne Jolly)

Some of you may remember the good ole days when I taught music to Special Ed. High School kids (up until the school shut down completely at the top of August). Well, the most difficult part about maintaining a “9 to 5” and being a working musician is being able to keep some crazy late night hours. There were times that I would be getting off of a red eye flight from the west coast or getting off of an overnight MegaBus/BoltBus ride from a gig in NYC and then driving directly to work… This particular morning was no different. I don’t remember exactly how late I was up the previous night, but I do remember one thing… I. Was. TIRED. During the spring semester in 2011, second period was my planning period. So as soon as my first period class left the room, I would look VERY forward to my 50 solid minutes of peace and quiet before my rowdy ass third period class came in. But just as I was settling in to some silence… My cell phone started ringing – It was Phonte with an epiphany…

Phonte: “Ayo man… We need to remake “Same Ole Love”…. with JEANNE JOLLY and flip it into a COUNTRY song.”

Me: *thinking… humming the song to myself* “………..Hell yeah!”

P: “Cuz if you break it all the way down, “Same Ole Love” ain’t nothing but a country song anyway.”

M: “I say, let’s run it…”


I actually had “Same Ole Love” on the computer in my classroom and decided to learn the chords and changes as soon as we got off the phone. From learning the music, I was able to then hear my own drum pattern overtop of the hooks. I then walked over to the drumset in the classroom and practiced that particular pattern until it was time for my third period class to come in… Matter of fact, I practiced that pattern more than a few times because I wanted to be the one to record them and I wanted them to be laid with the same groove and swing that I had in my head.

One of the great things about this remake is not only Jeanne’s performance, but the fact that since she has been on the road with The Foreign Exchange and been pulled into various studio sessions covering several genres of music, she has ignored being a good “Country singer” and has begun to build a solid reputation as a being a dope SINGER… Period. We knew that creating this song for Jeanne and putting it on the album would be a wild card move, without question. Sometimes it is difficult to get listeners to think outside the box, especially with a song that a lot of folks connected and grew up with…. We could already see the tweets and the comments coming…. “Wait a minute, a white country singer redoing a joint by ANITA?!”  ….”I KNOW she ain’t doin’ no Anita Baker song!” No problem… We had a plan. First, we weren’t sure if Jeanne was familiar with the original version or not… Either way, we made it a point to keep Anita’s version away from her simply because Anita has such a distinct tone and sound and we didn’t want it to influence our version at all – plus I was confident that it would help our version stand out a little bit more. So after recording just the piano part to a click track or a metronome… Phonte laid down reference vocals for Jeanne to listen to before she actually went in to record it herself. I even put the piano/click track on my phone so that I could practice the drum pattern on the kit WITH the recorded music playing during my down time in the classroom…. At that point it was just a matter of figuring out when we were going to record the joint in full.

I just so happened to be in North Carolina at Phonte’s spot for what ended up being a few days in April, I was on Spring Break from teaching. Ironically enough, the majority of “Same Ole Love” was recorded the day after Phonte and I recorded our now infamous parody of Mark Morrison’s “Return Of the Mack.” My greedy ass was actually going to work on a Cookout burger while Jeanne came on through the house so she and Phonte could record vocals. In the meantime, I was waiting on a call from +FE frequent collaborator and live band guitarist, Chris Boerner so that I could take a trip to his house and record the drums. I mean, I had taken along one of my favorite snare drums on the plane and everything for this! I ended up getting the call and left the vocal session to head over to Boerner’s spot to set up for my first live drum recording session… On a full kit, that is. It was a quick set-up, no issues at all…. Levels were adjusted, a few drum mic tweaks here and there, then it was time. I played the kit and actually got the drums sounding the way I wanted them to sound on only the second take… Damn near surprised mySELF! Chris dumped the drum tracks on my flash drive and I took them AND the vocal tracks home with me the following day to plug into the open session in my studio. After putting them all together, I recorded the bass guitar track and some additional percussion instruments in order to make the song bounce a little bit more. After I sent the joint to Phonte, he had Boerner add some acoustic guitar… RHYTHM acoustic guitar that really added some more movement to the end hook and dammit… Allyn Love came in and “made the song cry” with that pedal steel guitar. When I heard those final two elements, I was rewinding things MORE than a few times. I was even influenced to add the string line at the end to give the song more of a finalé. Pedal steel guitar? Jeanne singing Anita and sounding GREAT? Kats were proud of this one simply because we felt as though we were breaking a couple of rules and pulled it off successfully… It almost makes me anxious to shatter some more

Download …just visiting three for FREE…. Here.

Zo! – …just visiting three (2011) | FREE DOWNLOAD + Full Credits

Zo!
…just visiting three
FREE DOWNLOAD

**Click the song titles to read the stories behind the making of each**
01. Black Cow featuring Phonte Sy Smith
Lead Vocal by Phonte
Background Vocals by Sy Smith & Phonte
All Instruments by Zo!
Guitar by Chris Boerner
Trumpet by Stan Graham
Trombone by Andrew Kleindienst
Saxophone by Matt Douglas
 
02. Let It Go featuring Nicholas Ryan Gant
Lead Vocal by Nicholas Ryan Gant
Background Vocals by Nicholas Ryan Gant & Phonte
All Instruments by Zo!
 
03. Driving featuring Sy Smith
Lead Vocal by Sy Smith
Background Vocals by Sy Smith & Phonte
All Instruments by Zo!
Flute by Claudia Hayden
 
04.Marzipan featuring Eric Roberson & Phonte
Lead Vocal by Eric Roberson
Background Vocals by Phonte
All Instruments by Zo!
Guitar by Chris Boerner
Trumpet by Stan Graham
 
05. Everything She Wants featuring Phonte
All Vocals by Phonte
All Instruments by Zo!
 
06. Same Ole Love featuring Jeanne Jolly
Lead Vocal by Jeanne Jolly
Background Vocals by Jeanne Jolly and Phonte
All Instruments by Zo!
Acoustic Guitar by Chris Boerner
Pedal Steel by Allyn Love
 
07. Playing Your Game, Baby featuring Anthony David
Lead Vocal by Anthony David
All Instruments by Zo!
Trumpet by Stan Graham
Trombone by Andrew Kleindienst
Saxophone by Matt Douglas

Produced by Zo! and Phonte for Chapter 3hree, Verse 5ive Music, LLC/The Foreign Exchange Music, LLC
Recorded and Mixed by Zo! at East Wing Studios, Silver Spring, MD and by Phonte at The Peanut Gallery, Raleigh, NC

Additional Recording and Mixing by Chris Boerner at The Burlap Palace, Raleigh, NC
Mastering by Soiree Records
Cover Photography by Keith Estep of Keith Estep Photography
 
 
…just visiting three: THE ORIGINALS
 
01. Black Cow
Written by Walter Becker and Donald Fagen
Originally Performed by Steely Dan
From the Album “Aja” (ABC, 1977) 
 
02. Let It Go
Written by John Lang, Richard Page, and Steve George
Originally Performed by Pages
From the Album “Pages” (Epic, 1978)
 
03. Driving
Written by Ben Watt
Originally Performed by Everything But The Girl
From the Album “The Language Of Life” (Atlantic, 1990)
 
04. Marzipan
Written and Originally Performed by Eric Tagg
From the Album “Dreamwalkin'” (EMI, 1982)
 
05. Everything She Wants
Written by George Michael
Originally Performed by Wham!
From the Album “Make It Big” (CBS, 1985)
 
06. Same Ole Love
Written by Marilyn McLeod and Darryl K. Roberts
Originally Performed by Anita Baker
From the Album “Rapture” (Elektra, 1986)
 
07. Playing Your Game, Baby
Written and Originally Performed by Barry White
From the Album “Barry White Sings For Someone You Love” (20th Century, 1977)
 
© 2011 Chapter 3hree, Verse 5ive Music, LLC/The Foreign Exchange Music, LLC

“Laughing At Your Plans” (from Dear Friends: An Evening With The Foreign Exchange)

Clip taken from the upcoming live acoustic CD/DVD “Dear Friends: An Evening With The Foreign Exchange”, available June 28 2011 on +FE Music. Directed and edited by John Elliot Gray.

Source: Parallellogram · Directed by John Elliott Gray

Recorded and filmed live at SoundPure Studios in Durham NC on February 20 2011

Phonte: Vocals – Nicolay: Acoustic guitar – Jeanne Jolly: Vocals – Sy Smith: vocals – Zo!: grand piano – Chris Boerner: Acoustic guitar – Kush El-Amin: Acoustic bass guitar – Tim Scott Jr.: Drums