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Review: Art of Cool Fest 2015- Durham Does It Again

posted April 27, 2015, 1:09 pm by Carlita | Filed Under Editorial, Live Show Reviews, Music News | comment Leave a Comment


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For live music lovers, it’s no secret festival season’s arrived. Tis the time to travel now that winter worries are long gone to see your favorite artists. No stranger to North Carolina as I made the trek to attend MoogFest last year, I knew NC, with pockets of vibrant, homegrown artistic communities, would be a dope spot for a fest. Reading the hype about last year’s inaugural Art of Cool (AOC) Fest, this would be a part of my 2015. Making the trek back to NC with several other jazz, funk and soul enthusiasts, we descended upon Bull City/Durham for a weekend of fun.


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Returning for its second year, AOC converged artists from both coasts that spanned different generations with each day’s lineup large enough to provide options but small enough not to be overwhelming or unwieldy. During the day on Friday, I got the chance to speak with Kris Bowers (about film scoring and working with his cousin Murs), Jesse Boykins III (about being fearless and his first song written that involved some funny prom drama) and Carlitta Durand (about her new album that came out yesterday and working with comedic Phonte from Foreign Exchange who hosted the evening at Durham Armory later that night). AOCFEST15-ARTISTS-anthonyhamilton

I also spoke later that day with AOC co-founder Al Strong (about the creation of the fest and performing with Aretha Franklin) and a wildcard surprise, 9th Wonder (about his talented JAMLA squad, WTF moments being a Harvard fellow and working on Jay-Z’s “Black Album”). At night, I peeped the legendary Roy Ayers (who opened with his classic “Everybody Loves The Sunshine”), Carlitta Durand (who performed songs from ‘I’ll Be Gorgeous When I Die’), energetic Jesse Boykins III (who had ladies screaming in the front) and The Robert Glasper Trio who brought out Rapsody as a surprise guest.

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Returning on rainy Saturday afternoon, I also got the chance to connect with headliner Anthony Hamilton (who I teased about some interesting fashion choices over the years and asked about his D’Angelo years and his Grammy nods), Moonchild (who spoke about performing at Stevie Wonder’s charity benefit in LA), Mumu Fresh (who chatted about touring with The Roots), and Gretchen Parlato and Alan Hampton (who discussed how they approach each stage large or small the same and have some new music coming).
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It was also dope to see Butcher Brown with Braxton Cook (who I’d chatted with at SXSW but this time I got to ask guitarist Keith Askey about his Grammy win for his work on Kendrick Lamar’s “i”).
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Last but not least, I spoke to Michael League of Snarky Puppy about their Grammy win as indie artists and received a refreshing take on why music education is still important. After drying off for a bit, I returned that night to see Gretchen and Alan and Snarky Puppy. Wrapping up the weekend, VIP guests enjoyed a chill brunch with Avery Sunshine and surprise guest Mike Phillips on Sunday. After this mix of chill and excitement, I look forward to 2016’s AOC! Watch for my interviews with each of the artists I mentioned above on the Music Emissions site soon!

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