Zo! & Tall Black Guy – 2023/2024 Abstractions Tour

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Feb 17 in Philadelphia, PA (City Winery) • Feb 18 in Atlanta, GA (City Winery)Apr 18 in Oakland, CA (Yoshi’s) • May 7 in Escondido, CA (California Center for the Arts) • May 21 in Washington, D.C. (Pearl Street Warehouse) • Jun 17 in Baltimore, MD (AFRAM Festival) • Jul 03 in St. Louis (City Winery) • Jul 04 in Chicago, IL (City Winery) • Jul 08 in Detroit, MI (El Club) • Aug 26 in Waterbury, CT (SOUFEST at Silas Bronson Library Park) • Oct 07 in Durham, NC (Made In Durham: A Little Brother Block Party at Missy Lane’s Assembly Room) • Oct 27 in Houston, TX (The Studio at Warehouse Live) • Nov 16 in Dallas, TX (Sandaga 813) • Nov 24 in Washington, D.C. (Pearl Street Warehouse) • Nov 25 in Washington, D.C. (Pearl Street Warehouse) • Dec 14 in Oakland, CA (Yoshi’s) • Jan 26 in Detroit, MI (Sound Board Theater) • Feb 25 in London, UK (The Jazz Café)

Zo! + Sy Smith Interview with SoulCuts.org

We were cuttin up a bit in this interview… lol Enjoy!


Source: SoulCuts.org

By: Paul Cutting

At the start of March, 2011 I was backstage at the Jazz Cafe prior to ZO! and Sy Smith‘s first solo London show, lucky enough to have scored an interview. The pair had hopped the channel that morning following a successful performance in Paris to come and entertain the crowd at the KEEP THE FAITH ‘NEO SOULWW’ event. How on earth they retained any enthusiasm for an interview with little old SoulCuts is beyond me, but Sy beckoned me into the room with a warm and sweet demeanour before getting on with the ironing. The previous interviewer hung around chatting with them while I stood in the corner, quiet, feeling a bit of a lemon, but that’s cool, it’s not an unusual look for me.

In an uninspiring room at the top of the Jazz CafeZo! was spread out across what I can only describe as a huge slanted wooden donut, possibly the most uncomfortable piece of furniture since the electric chair. ZO! is a pretty big guy – not fat, mind you (that’s my forte!), regardless of how much macaroni cheese he wishes to gobble (quite a lot, apparently!), but he nonetheless carries a strong physical presence. Aligned to that physicality seemed to be a shy nature. This is somebody who clearly speaks honestly through the music (a thought further evidenced by his blistering performance on the Camden stage later that night) without any unnecessary embellishments.

Click to continue reading: Zo! + Sy Smith Interview with SoulCuts.org

The Foreign Exchange In Europe: Day 1/2 – London

Call me what you want… but when I went in to the school to teach today, I was definitely more focused on how my first shows and performances in Europe were gonna go moreso than the activities occurring in my own classroom – I can’t lie. I would catch myself zoning out rather regularly throughout the workday, only because I was so anxious to not only see what it was like in the U.K., but I wanted to check out London’s response to our music and actually be able to shake hands with everyone and thank them for supporting for all these years. So you can imagine how quickly I rushed outta that school when 3:30pm came around so that I could get some last minute running around done before finally getting on the road to Dulles Airport. I made sure to pack half of a library, iPod, and all other essentials to keep me busy for the upcoming 7-hour plane ride to Heathrow. I even made sure to grab a nice skrong draink to down fairly quickly to help with the napping process. Met up with our bass player, Kush in the terminal not too long before boarding the plane and got it moving to our gate. Apparently the Strong Island Iced Tea that I had assisted me in my quest for sleep because the entire plane ride over, I attempted to watch the movie “Wall Street 2” and could NOT make it through the entire thing… shameful considering the fact that I had over seven hours to do so. I would wake up to rolling credits, rewind it…. doze off again and wake up to another part in the movie that was completely unfamiliar looking to me. COme to think of it, I didn’t even stay awake long enough to catch the take-off. When I woke up the first time, I thought we were still taxiing on the damn runway… until I leaned forward to look out of a window and found out that this was NOT the case. By that time we were 30,000 feet in the air pretty much set at our cruising altitude. While the plane ride wasn’t too bad at all (I think my much needed sleep played a significant part in that as well), the length of my legs require my upgrading the seat on the return flight, so uh-ruh… I’ll be doing that for next week. Once we arrived, of course we had to fill out our “landing card” before making our way through UK customs. Passports and work permits were presented, and we were good to go. We walked down to baggage REclaim as they call it and picked up our bags, connected with our people and were out. I didn’t know what to expect once I arrived in London. The first thing I noticed was the consistent rain… It wasn’t pouring, but it was certainly dreary as all hell. This didn’t stop me from having my camera out at all times snapping pictures of any and ALL things on the drive to the hotel. Once we arrived at the hotel and got up to the room, I walked in and saw the size of the beds… Lawd.

When I laid stomach-down on the bed to connect my laptop to the net, even with me positioning myself diagonally my feet were STILL on the wall. lol The free wi-fi was non-existent at the Thistle Hotel as I had to kick out £9.99 ($15.55) for just 24 hours of low-speed net access. I love it.

I went on a food mission that didn’t take me far at all as I was on foot and the rain had picked up pretty significantly by this time. I ventured across the street to a hole-in-the-wall spot and got a simple chicken sandwich and chips. The sandwich consisted of… well… a grilled chicken patty on a bun. Therefore, you will find NO pics of this plate on the net as I had to doctor it up to the point that I damn near remade the thing. Had to throw that meal down pretty quickly in order to make it to soundcheck/rehearsal on time as we had to run the entire set with a new drummer for the tour, Laurie Lowe… Our regular drummer, Biscuit was unable to make the trip with us this time. We made it up to Cargo, which looked like a nice spot to me… and more importantly, once soundcheck started the soundman got our levels right and had us sounding GOOD together. So at this point, I was even MORE hyped up than before for the show to begin. We hurried back to the room for a QUICK turnaround of about 30 minutes, just enough time for a quick shower and a change of clothes. It was at this very moment that I realized I would have to supply myself with my own washcloths upon returning to Europe because there aren’t any in the hotel rooms. I used a hand towel to wash up with… Just a side note. lol

We rode back to the Cargo and found out that we had to walk through the crowd to get to the dressing room… Welp! Ok… The funny thing is, I looked up and a flashlight ended up in MY hand to lead the crew through this packed up ass, shoulder-to-shoulder crowd. So I’m stumbling through people in order to clear the way for the crew, with a flashlight in hand looking like damn security of the first world. I could hear a couple people calling out our individual names as they gradually started to realize who was pushing their way through them. I even heard a few people say, “Zo!” …and others say, “Zo?” as I walked by them.
At the start of the show, I could already tell it was gonna be a night for the books. London was READY… We came out, and they were into the show from start to finish… From crowd response and participation to knowing all the words to the songs… they were ready to go. The personal highlight of the night for me on stage was the response I heard from Phonte simply saying, “I’ve got my man Zo on the keys.” The people got LOUD… The reaction caught me COMPLETELY off guard… so much to the point that I had to STOP playing the keyboard and just kinda stand there looking extra surprised. I couldn’t do anything but look at my kats on stage and say simply, “Wooooow.” Actually, someone asked me later on, “Why did you look so surprised when the crowd cheered for you?” Maaaaan, look. I haven’t heard a reception like that outside of Detroit and D.C. Very rewarding and humbling experience. Then to be able to walk right back out into the crowd after the show to take pictures, shake hands, sign albums, and greet everyone who has been following FE’s music and some who have been following my music for years was a huge bonus for me. Overall, the show was the perfect opening show for the European Tour run. Playing to a sold-out, hyped up crowd in a spot that I have never been before. Sounds pretty damn great to me.

AFTER the show, I was in for a not so great surprise as I decided to order the “Jerk Chicken Sandwich” at the venue and upon its arrival, I discovered that it was actually grilled chicken cutlets with lettuce and some damn chipotle mayo. :-/ Someone took it even further than that and ordered some calamari… I won’t even comment on it. I’ll just show you the picture.
Regardless, one a helluva show in London…… If this is any indication of how the remainder of this tour will be, then I. Can’t. WAIT for more.

Zo! + Sy Smith @ The Jazz Café in London!! – March 6, 2011

I’m very excited to announce that I’ll be co-headlining the Jazz Café in London on March 6th, 2011 with one of my favorite people… the immensely talented Sy Smith. I’m really looking forward to making my Jazz Café debut as I have been told for years that it’s one of the historically rich spots to play in… aaaand my pulse rate spiked as I just typed that.

UK, it looks like I will now see you in January AND in March. Have some good food waiting for me please….!!