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Maceo Parker at the Art of Cool Festival

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Thursday March 20, 2014

From The Huffington Post

Why the “Art of Cool” Is the Best Festival in 2014 You Might Sleep On, Until Now – Part 1: The Lineup
By: Wyatt Closs

In late April, its going down. That is, an eclectic mix of Jazz, Neo-Soul, jazzy Hip-Hop and Retro Funk for two days. Purely that. Straight, no chaser, as North Carolina’s Theolonius Monk might say. Its not Pitchfork, Coachella, Bonnaroo, or The Roots Picnic. It’s the Art of Cool Music Festival, in Durham, NC, the best-kept-secret, jewel box of a music festival happening this year I think.

How it came together will also inspire the least musically-inclined readers of Fast Company or Entrepreneur magazine. Its not everyday that 11 mostly young African-American professionals in a small southern town are about to mount one of the coolest music festivals in the country this year, but thats whats happening. In my “Part 2” about this festival, I’ll dig into that business case study deeper. But right now, lets get back to the music and programming.

Start with the fact that this is a festival with James Brown’s sax man and a violist known to put orchestral moves on legendary hip hop beats as the headliners, on the big marquee. I’m speaking of Maceo Parker and Miguel Atwood Ferguson respectively, both of whom I’ve seen live in the last year and can attest to their purely enjoyable showmanship.

With Maceo, its raw funk from those James Brown (and later Parliament Funkadelic) days tinged with the hard jazz that he honed on his first solo effort back in 1993. That got more gigs for this other hard working man in show business with the likes of Prince and hip hop artists De La Soul. Hailing originally from Kinston in eastern NC, he leads the pack of Tarheel artists that AOC has carefully intertwined into the two days. He’s also known to have some guest vocalists here and there.

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