Interview: Jason Orr Talks FunkJazz Kafé Arts & Music Festival

 

Jason Orr, founder of Atlanta’s highly revered FunkJazz Kafé Arts & Music Festival talks about how the festival got started, his most prized relationships as a result of the festival, and some exciting tidbits on what’s in store for this year’s event. 2013′s program launches this Friday, July 12 with a screening of the music documentary FunkJazz Kafé: Diary Of A Decade (The Story Of A Movement) and the festival itself takes place on Saturday, July 13. Watch the trailer after the jump.

Giant Step: When you first conceived FunkJazz Kafé, what was your mission? What inspired you to start the festival in the first place?

Jason Orr: The mission when I first conceived FunkJazz Kafé Arts & Music Festival was to create an arts festival environment with new and innovative music as the soundtrack. I was inspired by the multiple talents around me here in Atlanta, particularly the artist I was managing, Vinnie Bernard, drummer extraordinaire, Lil John Roberts, visual artist Maurice Evans and the various creators in fashion, theater, dance, music etc. around the city. Everything was vibrant and bubbling but needed one place to come together.

GS: What’s been your most memorable experience in the 19 years you’ve been holding FunkJazz Kafé?

JO: Out of all 46 festivals, I remember them all very well because they are like my children that have been growing up nicely. Sounds funny, but very true.

GS: A particularly odd or funny memory from FunkJazz Kafé over the years?

JO: A funny memory is when we were on tour in 1999 and we were going to Detroit and everything was going wrong… like the production truck couldn’t get up the hills in the Smokey mountains because it weighed too much, the tour bus threw a rod, and we had a racist skin head engineer who hated us for no reason and was sabotaging the sound. It was a great test of will, patience, and magic. The festival came together in the end and was one of the best on that tour after all.

Read more after the jump

November Next Step Winner: Britney Stoney

 

Very excited to announce Detroit singer Britney Stoney as our November Next Step winner! Having learned guitar just two years ago, Britney has made quite the impression on her local circuit playing at coffee shops, clubs, and open miss. Citing Tracy Chapman, Dionne Farris, Erykah Badu, and Lauryn Hill as influences, ger sound is primarily soul with alternative, folk, and pop leanings – you may even hear a tinge of reggae or country at times.

Above, we’ve got an awesome live performance video where Britney starts out with an Amy Winehouse cover of “Valerie.” After, she moves into an original piece where she shows welcome hints of Adele in her style. Below, hear another one of Britney’s tracks called “Three.” Heaps of potential with this young lady!

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Giant Step’s 20th Anniversary: Groove Academy Flyers (1990-1996)

This short video collage chronicles the shows and events from 1990 through 1996 of the company that preceded Giant Step: The Groove Academy. This is the first time that the flyers and posters of Groove Academy shows have been digitized.

The concept behind The Groove Academy was to give an opportunity for the masters of funk and groove to perform their craft in front of a young audience and new generation of fans as most only knew these artists from samples used in hip-hop and rap. At this time, many of the originators were in fact forgotten in the USA and had to go to Europe and Japan to make a living. The Groove Academy was determined to help re-launch careers in the States and give them their just props!

As time went on and Giant Step was born, The Groove Academy became the concert wing of the company and helped to introduce new artists. By the mid 1990s, The Groove Academy came to an end, putting all events under the unified umbrella of Giant Step.

Stay tuned for more memorabilia as we celebrate our 20th Anniversary and please share any memories, feedback, or your own photos from this historic time. To see the individual flyers and posters from this video, view the album on our facebook page.