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EVENT PREVIEW: The Art of Cool Festival 2018
Calling all Music Lovers! The 2018 Art of Cool Festival is rapidly approaching.  The Durham, North Carolina festival went through a couple of major changes first being sold by the non-profit Art of Cool Project to entertainment company The DOME Group, LLC, and changing the festival’s date from April to September.  The festival will now take place September 28th and 29th, which allows people the opportunity to make the Art of Cool Festival the choice pick for fall festivals.   The two day festival is celebrating its fifth anniversary, and is popping off in a big way.  You can catch some of your favorites at venues in the surrounding areas of downtown Durham. And speaking of your favorites this year’s line up is filled with heavyweights from the Hip-Hop, Jazz and Soul genres, like Nas, Maxwell, Meshell Ndgeocello, Anna Wise, Washington DC’s Black Alley, 9th Wonder and more! In addition to the music, the Innovate Your Cool Conference will also return.   We say grab your friends or your significant other, book your room and head down to Durham for the Art of Cool festival! You can purchase tickets here.  

LIVE: Deerhunter, Standing On The Corner, Circuit Des Yeux at House Of Vans
The penultimate House of Vans show in Brooklyn took place with Deerhunter, Circuit Des Yeux, and Standing in the Corner. Its the dog days of August in New York City; skin soaking humidity and random showers were in full effect. However the crowd was unbothered; when the rain kicked in everyone politely pulled out their umbrellas providing cover for friend and stranger alike and continued to nosh and drink while waiting for the bands to perform. Deerhunter’s catalog veers from moments of pure pop songwriting to uncontrolled punk indebted chaos and it was reflected on the openers they personally picked. On the chaotic side was NYC’s own Standing on The Corner a collective of jazz, R&B, and hip-hop musicians. They snuck onto the stage lighting incense in various spots to set the mood for the free jazz set they played. Frontperson Gio Escobar set a backdrop of noise while he directed the band behind him; horns, percussion and guitars fought to find grooves and when successful it felt angelic. Circuit Des Yeux performed mainly in darkness which served the mood well; her brand of dark and experimental pop seems to be live in the shadows. Not to say that it […]

LIVE: 2018 Summer Spirit Festival
Photos by Kevin Hinton/Kreative71 and Sneakshot Photography Words by Sojourner Turner Hot temperatures did not deter thousands of hip-hop, go-go and r&b fans gathered at Merriweather Post Pavilion for the annual Summer Spirit Festival, DC, Maryland, and Virginia’s premier urban outdoor music festival.  As always, this year’s festival lineup reflected the wide-ranging variations of black musical representation on one stage.   From the classic hip-hop of Redman and Method Man to the genre-bending pop/alt hip-hop/dance music of Lizzo to the percussion-driven sounds of DC’s indigenous music, go-go, from Backyard Band, the Summer Spirit Festival had something for everyone.  Over the two-day festival, Saturday’s co-headliners were neo-soul standard bearer, Erykah Badu, and hit-making master lyricist, Nas, while Sunday’s headliner was the Legendary Roots Crew. Saturday’s lineup began with newcomers Bryan J, Phony PPL and Lion Babe, followed by a set by Philadelphia’s own Bilal.  Bilal, known for his on-stage theatrics, delivered an Avant Garde soul/jazz style performance revisiting some of his hits “Soul Sista,” “For You,” “Sometimes,” “Back to Love,” “Butterfly” among others. Next up was Grammy-nominated North Carolina femcee, Rapsody, accompanied by the Stormtroopers, a full band including hip hop cultural luminary, 9th Wonder.   Rapsody commanded the stage with confidence. Following Rapsody […]

SOCIAL STUDIES: BOBBITO GARCIA celebrates the loves of his life with ‘Rock Rubber 45s’
  The quintessential New Yorker (sorry/not sorry Woody Allen) opens up about his latest film ‘Rock Rubber 45s’ Take Bobbito Garcia’s two previous films Doin’ It in the Park: Pick-Up Basketball, NYC (2012) and Stretch and Bobbito: Radio That Changed Lives (2015), add in his 2003 book Where’d You Get Those? New York City’s Sneaker Culture: 1960-1987 “mix ‘em and cook ‘em in a pot, like gumbo” and you have Garcia’s latest film, Rock Rubber 45s. Part lifetime-achievement-award show, part therapy session, Rock Rubber 45s hops between personal and athletic disappointments and career and genre-defining successes. Robert “Bobbito” Garcia grew up in NYC, the youngest of three. During his hectic childhood, he was literally and figuratively surrounded by music at home (his bandleader father would bring home musicians for all-night jam sessions) and later found his solace on neighborhood basketball courts. Between expertly cut footage and testimonials from celebrity friends/fans, the film simultaneously shows Garcia as a son, a brother, a husband, a father, a DJ, an athlete, a TV and radio personality, a writer, an author, an announcer, a coach, a filmmaker, and a shoe designer. But ultimately, Rock Rubber 45s shows us he’s just human and deals with […]

LIVE: Blondie at House of Vans
Ghosts of old New York City were in the Brooklyn House of Vans for the latest installment of their House Parties series. Scattered across the venue were glorious shots of city legends like The Ramones, Debbie Harry, and Fab Five Freddy taken by Chris Stein, who’s day job gig as the lead guitarist/co-songwriter of Blonde, brought him there as the headliner. The acts seemed to be positioned in reverse chronological order, with SASAMI opening up. A new solo project from former Cherry Glazerr member Sasami Ashworth, the songs veered from earnest singer songwriting about relationships to more aggressive guitar work considering there was only her and only one other band member on stage. Next up was Liz Phair, who has been laying the grown work for indie singer songwriters who aren’t afraid to show off their pop chops since the 90’s. Backed by a full band it was retrospective of an underrated career with the crowd cheering every new song as if it was their favorite. At this stage of her career Phair could have just played the elder rock stateswoman role but even the old tracks had a sense of urgency and spirit that made the entire experience feel […]

Interview: Words and Bourbon with Aldis Hodge
Currently, the name Aldis Hodge may occupy the “where do I know him from” section in your headspace. The actor has been grinding in Hollywood, starring in no less than 20 productions in the past few years. Whether it’s MC Ren in Straight Outta Compton, Levi Jackson in Hidden Figures, or, my favorite, Jack, in the Black Museum” episode of Black Mirror, you’ve seen him on screen. However, after spending a few hours with the actor during Bulleit Bourbon’s #FrontierWorks activation during Frieze Art Fair, I’ve learned that there is more to this actor than meets the eye. Currently, Aldis is the brand ambassador for the brand’s #FrontierWorks project, which encourages everyday people to find the artist within themselves. We caught up with Aldis for a quick conversation during a special Frontier works dinner during New York’s Frieze Art Fair earlier this month. So many people may know you as an actor, but for me, this is the first time I’ve heard about your artwork. This year is the first year I came out publicly to display my work. I was working with my girlfriend [Afro-Cuban artist] Harmonia Rosales. She’s ridiculously talented and we’ve worked together for about a year on our […]

OPINION: Kill Your Idols
Over the weekend Donald Glover stopped by Saturday Night Live to host one of its most critically acclaimed episodes this season. Lean in the years SNL has been mostly hit and miss with its comedy but the Glover episode was consistently good to great. The skits that ranged from the socially aware (He tackled the lack of minority representation in Star Wars) to a playful homage to cheesy 80’s R&B were all genuinely funny. In addition to his hosting Glover was doing double duty as the musical guest and performed two songs from his upcoming album, the sequel to his Grammy award winning “Awaken, My Love”. It was a victory lap for Glover: in his opening monologue he joked at how he auditioned for the show twice and didn’t get it. Earlier in the week another famous polymath was undergoing an entirely different experience. Enfant terrible Kanye West re-emerged after an online and music sabbatical in late April with several new projects in tow and a brand new attitude: a shift from socially progressive politics and calling out presidential malfeasance (“George Bush Doesn’t Care about Black People”) to proclaiming his love for the bigot overlord, President Donald Trump. So outrageous […]

LIVE: Matt and Kim at the 9:30 Club
Matt and Kim, the super hype, dance-pop, rock duo just released Almost Everyday, their sixth studio album on the FADER label.  The Brooklyn indie sweethearts are currently on tour.  When we heard that they were heading to Washington DC with Tokyo Police Club for a two night engagement at the 9:30 Club. We sent Sneakshot Photography–one of our favorite photographers and avid Matt & Kim fan to capture some of the show.

EVENT: The Fire Emoji is Strong With New York Hot Sauce Festival 2018
There used to be this show on Food Network called Heat Seekers. It followed, regular Chopped judge, Aarón Sanchez and Cooking Channel’s Roger Mooking on a journey to the spiciest sauces and foods in the United States. I loved this show because I love hot sauce so much and I loved watching Aarón punk out and turn bright red and listening to Roger talk so much shit as he struggled through his meal, hailing his Trinidadian roots as his reason for being oh-so-superior at consuming spicy foods. So I was more than pleased to cover The Sixth Annual NYC Hot Sauce Expo in Brooklyn this year and try to re-create my own Heat Seekers. I dreamed of dousing tortilla chips in red, orange, and green concoctions. I yearned to talk shop with the creators of these blessed mixtures and find out the secret to a terrific sauce. Give me all the capsaicin-y goodness and let me bathe in it. Heat Seekers: Rebooted … here I come! Only problem was, my partner on this journey (and in life), was none other than self-proclaimed hot sauce hater, Winston “Stone” Aubrey Ford. Stone does not understand the “I put that shit on everything” […]

SXSW 2018 – A Week of Musical Newcomers & Legends
The Couch Sessions team hit Austin, Texas for one of our favorite work/play conferences, SXSW 2018. Each year, we touch down with the goals of networking and catching performances by our favorite artists while discovering more amazing talent along the way. With so many great panels and music showcase lineups, deciding which to attend can be stress inducing. This year was no different! Below are highlights from our favorite events and performances. REVOLT TV Presents REVOLTHouse REVOLT TV returned to Austin with REVOLTHouse at a new venue on 6th Street. Newcomers like Topaz Jones and Duckwrth set the stage on fire early in the afternoon with their performances. Another newcomer, Arin Ray, a singer-songwriter that opened for  H.E.R. on the Lights On tour, also hit the stage to serenade the crowd with songs from his recently released debut album, Platinum Fire. REVOLTHouse ended the night with arguably the dopest performance of SXSW – when Ghostface Killah, Raekwon, and Inspectah Deck hit the stage to perform classics in celebration of the 25th year anniversary of 36 Chambers. Twelve Rivers Presents: Open House While REVOLTHouse excelled with a heavy lineup of singers and rappers, Twelve Rivers Presents: Open House held hip-hop down on the deejaying end with amazing sets from Z-Trip, Jazzy Jeff, Just Blaze, and […]

LIVE: SXSW 2018 – FADER FORT Returns with Rae Sremmurd, Bbymutha, & King Combs
Seemingly, the team at the FADER has been crazy busy lately. Just weeks after releasing FADER FORT Setting the Stage – a hardcover book commemorating the first 15 years of the music event – they returned to Austin to produce the latest iteration of FADER FORT during SXSW 2018 in a new, smaller location. Staying true to their ethos, the FADER FORT lineup was filled with 3 days of scheduled performances by rising stars, fan favorites, and legends like Bbymutha, Cherrie, Valee, G Perico, Mozzy, and H-Town’s Bun B. Highlights from the show include: BlocBoy JB and his crew doing their signature “Shoot” dance on stage and performing the Drake-collab “Look Alive” acapella; surprise performances from Raekwon and King Combs; Rico Nasty getting the crowd to start a mosh pit while Bbymutha danced alongside her onstage; and Rae Sremmurd amping the crowd up as the surprise headliners.

MUSIC: Is Live Music Dying?
A few days ago Ed Groste of Grizzly Bear put up an instagram post explaining why they don’t tour places like Singapore or Perth with this ”… I’m trying to explain there is no value put on live music anymore. We feel it’s important to bring with us the fullest show we can with all the live instruments and a good light show. But now, when you cut out record sales and we haven’t had a car commercial in ages, we literally lose money.” (In reference to touring places away from the states) With the death of record sales as we know it and streaming solely being corporate record label welfare live music was supposed to be the savior of the musician. Since the beginning of musical arts there was always the idea that an artist could go bring his or her works directly to the people to make their living. Even in a corporate commoditized world it’s not hard to find examples of this even today (It’s why seeing an actual physical Phish record in the flesh is a rare but finding a ticket for a Phish show even rarer). Even though it feels like that era is coming […]