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So many reasons to celebrate: Mo Audio turns 1

1 Apr

One week ago today, Mo Audio celebrated its first birthday. Our guest was soul and R&B singer Donnie, whose critically acclaimed album The Colored Section broke the mold for what modern soul should sound like.

Donnie’s an amazing artist. And he’s just one of the amazing artists we’ve had the pleasure of talking to on our show over the past year.

I am so thankful for the opportunity to work with my co-hosts, Carlton Hargro and Larmarrous Shirley. We had a podcast together years ago when Carlton and I were colleagues at Creative Loafing. Here’s a throwback shot from one of our sessions. We used to record at Harlem Bar, now BQE Lounge, off Edgewood Avenue.

Carlton-Chante AudioFloss

It’s really something how things come full circle. Now, instead of being underwritten by our local newsweekly, Carlton and Larmarrous have Slo Mo, a publication dedicated to all things soul music, to support our weekly broadcast.

I frequent Edgewood Avenue — including what I think will be a fun summer with DJ Tabone‘s Kool School Sundays at BQE.

Then there’s the connection with Jabari Graham, with whom I first crossed paths via Art Beats & Lyrics. Plus, he was friends with Dubelyoo, and we had North Carolina in common.

J’s the reason we have our show now, being the founder of AB+L Radio. And AB+L Radio was recently awarded a Best of Atlanta Award by Creative Loafing.

I am truly blessed to have such talented, striving, inspiring visionaries in my life. They make my life substantial. They make me feel like I’m a part of something special. Because they all certainly are. I love you guys. Thank you for everything.

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ChanteSez … It’s too early for end of the year blues

4 Dec

As we approach the end of the year, there are a few things I feel I’ve done well here at onthelookoutatlanta.com, and just as many that I could have done better.

Funny how that seems to be the way of life. Honestly — today, anyway — I’m not looking at this truth with a contented smile. Today, I am sad.

Lest this turn into one of those blogs, back to the point. Things that worked well, things to improve.

  • For starters, I’ve been consistent with posts … until recently. I’d like to pick things back up in 2014.
  • I’d also like to see more of the “worthwhile people” mentioned in my site’s mission. I’ve focused mostly on the information and events. I’m always open to ideas. Just leave me a comment.
  • When you search “Jamal Ahmad Atlanta” on Google, onthelookoutatlanta.com is likely to show up on the first page!
  • Same for “Kai Alce Atlanta”!
  • You have hung in there with me. I am incredibly thankful for that. Please keep reading, and stay in touch with me.

WCLK-FM changes format, replaces ‘S.O.U.L.’ with smooth jazz in ‘survival’ move

28 Aug

OTL-Jamal Ahmad

WCLK-FM (91.9) adjusted the formatting of just about all of its shows starting Monday, Aug. 26, in an effort to save the station, according to assistant general manager Tammy Nobles. The most painful of these adjustments is to Jamal Ahmad’s “S.O.U.L. of Jazz” show. It seems the soul has been sucked out of the 2-6 p.m. weekday time slot and replaced with smooth jazz.

Ahmad has consistently offered quality soul music to WCLK listeners and beyond. He’s known for playing rare grooves — you probably know the hip-hop track featuring a sample from one of these gems — and breaking new music from local and international artists.

His show provided a welcome reprieve from the nationally syndicated talk fests occasionally interrupted by your uncle’s favorite song from back in the day, or your little niece’s latest R&B infatuation.

Ahmad was voted Best Drive Time DJ by Creative Loafing for a couple of years, and his show on WCLK was one of the legs upon which the table of Atlanta’s music scene has been built — the others being our venues, retail outlets such as Moods Music, and the people (both artists and patrons).

Nobles acknowledged Ahmad’s strong following, but insisted that the Arbitron ratings for his show — and the overall decrease in station listenership — justified a change. She said that focus groups were conducted, including a 900-song survey with many tunes and artists listeners said they weren’t familiar with.

In short, the station needs more money. Over the past year, the station went from having two fund drives to three, but still fell short of its fundraising goals. This is amid less support from the Clark Atlanta University, the station’s primary source of funding and where it is housed. In 2012, the station pulled in $250,000 less from CAU than it did in 2011, according to its 2012 financial statement.

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Slo Mo Magazine gives a voice to Atlanta’s soul scene

26 Jun

Front cover of Slo Mo, a magazine dedicated to soul music and culture

Launching a print publication is a risk these days. But when you’re as passionate about soul music and culture as co-publishers Carlton Hargro and Larmarrous Shirley, it’s a risk worth taking. And it’s calculated.

Slo Mo is a monthly print publication highlighting “soul. music. culture.” as the cover tagline states.

With the professional experience to back up this new project, the odds are good. Hargro is the former editor of Creative Loafing-Charlotte, and Shirley is an award-winning graphic designer for publications such as Atlanta Magazine.

Hargro serves as the publication’s editor (and author of all the first edition’s articles), and Shirley is its designer. For future editions, they’ll be working with various freelancers to cover Atlanta’s soul music scene, from singers and musicians to DJs and promoters, visual artists, scenesters and more.

SloMo publishers

Add to the mix the sustainability of the magazine’s unconventional format. It’s a poster-sized fold-up that the two can bankroll on their own.

That said, ad spots are available — and priced to suit the small-business budget.

Shirley came up with the Slo Mo idea years ago, and in recent years picked up a similarly sized zine and knew that would be the way to go. It complements the overall concept of the publication, which is to fight against the dumbing down of music and culture by providing worthwhile content built within a dynamic design, Shirley says. It’s like moving things forward by forcing people to slow down and pay attention to what’s real.

Moods Music is the publication’s primary point of distribution for now, says Hargro. With Moods being the go-to retailer for soul music and hard-to-find imports, it makes sense. Hargro said they’re deliberate about the pick-up points because the magazine is meant to be niche. In later months, distribution will max out at 25 spots where lovers of soul music and culture are likely to gather, he says.

Plus, it’s more cost-effective that way.

A crowd of more than 50 people showed their support at Moods on Sunday, June 23, as the duo officially launched and passed out copies of the publication.

A few in attendance — including producer Daz-I-Kue and vocalist Kameron Corvet — are mentioned in the inaugural issue. Others, including Ron Smith of Harmony in Life, Aishah Rashied Hyman of Spread Love (and Mrs. DJ Kemit), and Aalyah Duncan of A-List Events Marketing are sure to have their events and artists mentioned in future editions.

The duo is open to story ideas, and both Hargro and Shirley are big on making sure they stay accessible. Part of the reason the publication was founded, Hargro said, is so that soul music promoters, artists and lovers of the culture won’t have to hurdle the barriers often found when pitching to traditional media outlets. So hit them up at slomomedia@gmail.com.

Not only is this a risk worth taking, should Slo Mo succeed, all of Atlanta’s soul scene will win.

Full disclosure: Yours truly is on tap to write an August 2013 feature on House in the Park. If you have ideas for an angle, leave me a comment!

On The Lookout with Peven Everett: 5 quick questions

29 Mar

Peven Everett, a longtime house music producer/vocalist/performer with Chicago roots, is coming to the Sound Table tomorrow night, courtesy of Kai Alce and NDATL/Distinctive. Alce will be spinning, along with ST’s own Karl Injex.

OTL caught up with Everett for 5 quick questions.

Photo by Carlos Bell

1) How are you? (I mean this sincerely!) What’s going on?

Everything’s pretty OK right now. What’s the use in complaining.

2) Give us the rundown of how a (typical, if I may) Peven Everett production comes together.

It’s hard to say so I don’t because often times my explanation is thought to be self-preserving. I think it’s selflessly preserving as well as being involuntarily self-preserving. Everyone does it different and must never tell their method if they wish to have any future value.

3) Who or what are you on the lookout for these days? (It could be an artist, musical style, an inspiration, or an issue in the news.)

I am on the look out for everything.

4) What new projects are you working on? What should we be on the lookout for from you?

Be looking to like what you hear. No matter what.

5) What is the future of house music/soul music, in your opinion?

It could go many ways but only one way is the right way. There are only a few ” artists” with infinite marketing budgets and lips tight enough for a huge payoff as historically seen in the televised part of the music industry. Ninety percent of them — no, 95 percent of them — have been to my live shows  LOL. Music shields my spirit from the little things and keeps the beauty of my dreams from harm. Business and life are like a piano. A hidden hand is useless.