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Zo! And Carmen Rodgers Stop By The Pourhouse for their Skybreak/Stargazer Tour

Skybreak/Stargazer Tour

Saturday night a favorite Raleigh venue, The Pourhouse, brought us an act for those of us that still read liner notes: Zo! + Carmen Rodgers.  NC soul music lovers should be familiar with the musical partnership these two have; they’ve created songs that make you go from giving a church shout with your cardboard fan for exclamation to giving your ex the serious side eye from one beat to the next.  


There was already a small crowd gathering once opening act, Zoo Crü, started their set. Sidenote: I felt like this entire show was predestined for me. For example, I’ve sang along terribly to< most of Zo!’s discography but I never had the pleasure to catch a live show of his…..until now. Then imagine my amusement to learn a band I had been trying to check out for months were the first act. Native to Durham, I’ve had Zoo Crü recommended to me numerous times. Think of a younger, funkafied Sweetback if you will and there you have Zoo Crü. Each member/musician of the 4 man band are accomplished in their own right, with fortified resumes to back it up.


Together though they form this sort of soulful Voltron, performing straight instrumental music. Not only Jazz. They can by no means be labelled as just a jazz quartet regardless off the fact that they are all “classical trained Jazz musicians.”  


Zoo Crü are simply put dope artists, playing dope original music and we get lucky enough to listen to the instrumentation that spilled off their plates for good eating. And because it was my birthday and I’m the quintessential sucker for a drum solo (it wasn’t my birthday but still), drummer Jonathan Curry gave a solo that had us all going daaaamn a la Friday.

Kamau and Drummer

When Zo! aka Lorenzo Ferguson, originally from Detroit, took the stage with his magical companions we were ready to go. First a light introduction to a hard body of musical effort. Zo! developed notoriety after having worked with local favorite Phonte, of Little Brother and solo acclaim, for a number of years now. Throw in his contributions as a member of the Grammy nominated group Foreign Exchange, and his own recent 2016 project, “Skybreak,” and I’ve given you two great examples of why you should always have a Zo! track in rotation.  Ferguson’s distinctive production is a throwback to the funk soul era you grew up on, and honestly I could go on about how like Prince he plays numerous instruments;  how he consistently produces quality albums that become classics but truthfully live music is where this artist shines bright.


This tour features other musicians “from the D” including Carmen Rodgers,  her native “D” being Dallas rather than Detroit.  They’ve toured together for “the last five years” and their chemistry on stage is effortless. It doesn’t hurt that Carmen could probably sing a prescription advertisement and make it sound Grammy worthy. They started out with “Starlight,” a track that gives you the feel of bell bottoms and afros it’s so funky.

Shana Tucker

The crowd got a special treat when Zo! invited NC songstress Shana Tucker to the stage to sing their track, “I Don’t Mind,” something they had apparently never done live before.  Each band member received their proper introduction and everyone just flowed together as a unit.  They all interacted organically with each other during set and even the drummer Zo! stated he “literally met last week” seemed like an old friend. My highlight of the night was Carmen singing “Wishing You Well,” a favorite of mine about not holding grudges and moving on that she killed live.

Kristopher Crosby

The show was so entertaining. The entire band cracked jokes with us and they had the crowd in the palm of their hands when they played (and HARMONIZED) “Coffee Pot aka Perculator.” Body rolls ensued with their tribute to old school music with a quick medley of Troop’s classic “All I Do”  during a self described “nah-hoo” moment. For those who are confused, let me explain. All really good classic R&B songs have that soulful, pleading entrance/exit note on the song. Yes that is literally how it sounds and yes, no one did it better than Troop and yes, you really ARE required to body roll as you sing or be escorted off the premises. I loved every moment of this show and then they had the nerve to end with “Flight of the Blackbyrd.”


This song is everything that is perfect and shows Zo!’s complexity as an artist. It is full of harmonies,  instrumentation, melodies, and oh my goodness listen to him on those piano keys. It’s a lengthy nod to those times when Earth, Wind and Fire would just let the band play straight fire, and harmonize over it and it was the truth and everything that is right in the world. So yes, I guess you could say I enjoyed the show. You will too so check out when they’re coming to your area and tell them Shutter16 sent you.


Tour Dates:

Saturday, April, 21, 2018 – SEATTLE, WA
Zo! + Carmen Rodgers
“Piano & A Microphone”
Fred Wildlife Refuge
128 Boylston Ave E, Seattle, WA 98102
Doors: 10pm

Monday, April 30, 2018 – NEW YORK, CITY, NY
Zo! + Carmen Rodgers
“Piano & A Microphone”
Rockwood Music Hall (Stage 3)
185 Orchard St, New York, NY 10002 | (212) 477-4155
Doors: 8:15p | Show: 8:30p

Friday, May 18, 2018 – HAMBURG, GERMANY
Zo! + Carmen Rodgers
Mojo Club
Reeperbahn 1, 20359 Hamburg, Germany
Doors: 7:30p (19:30)

Saturday, June 23, 2018 – STUDIO CITY, CA
Zo! + Carmen Rodgers
Upstairs at Vitello’s Supper Club
4349 Tujunga Ave, Studio City, CA 91604
Doors: 6p | Show: 7:30p

Wednesday, July 25, 2018 – DETROIT, MI
Zo! + Carmen Rodgers
opening for Kamasi Washington
Chene Park Amphitheater
2600 Atwater St, Detroit, MI 48207

Saturday, September 15, 2018 – CINCINNATI, OH
Zo! + Carmen Rodgers
The Greenwich
2442 Gilbert Ave, Cincinnati, OH 45206

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