Tuesday, July 30, 2013

FunkJazz Kafe Diary of a Decade: The Story of a Movement (2011)

Directed by Jason Orr
Release: 2011
Review by Stefanie Newell

I had the pleasure of attending a screening for FunkJazz Kafe Diary of a Decade (The Story Of A Movement)  at the Southwest Arts Center in Atlanta, GA. The film is centered on the FunkJazz Kafe Arts & Music Festival, a multi-faceted arts and music festival founded by Jason Orr.
As a new Atlantan I’d never experienced the FunkJazz Kafe nor did I know the cultural impact it has on Atlanta. As a person who loves soul, jazz and funk, the name of the festival resonated with me and I wanted to learn more.

After reading the press release for the festival, I called up an old classmate from Chicago and he assured me that the festival was legendary and an event I needed to know about. He said since its inception people have purchased tickets for the event without even knowing who was on the lineup. Can you imagine purchasing a ticket for a festival and not even know who the artists are, let alone the headliner?

Well many people have. The festival that was birthed in 1994 quickly gained a reputation for bringing the funk! Performers like Jill Scott, Erykah Badu, Goodie MobOutkast and others have all headlined the fest; some long before they attained the celebrity status they have now.

After my classmate did a good job of convincing me of the relevance Funkjazz Kafe had on soul music, I was sold. Coming from Chicago where the Chosen Few house music picnic is legendary, I was interested to hear how this FunkJazz movement had started. And yes it’s a movement!
Founded by Jason Orr, the arts and music festival has been known to break artists who’d sometimes be overlooked by mainstream fans.

Although I envisioned the Funkjazz Kafe as being an outside festival, the film chronicles the music festival that is currently held at the Tabernacle nightclub in Atlanta, GA.  Narrated by Chuck D of Public Enemy fame, the film features music artists such as Cee Lo Green, Speech of Arrested Development, Erykah Badu and Joi (who was hilarious I might add). They share their experiences with Jason Orr in the conception years as the film walks the viewer through the history of soul music and the festival.
I thought the film (and festival) did a good job of capturing an often neglected demographic of fans. It provides a history lesson of sorts while chronicling how founder Jason Orr saw a need and filled it within the community.

He created a place where fans of soul music could come (at a reasonable price), and not only hear veteran artists, but break new artists, while providing every whim for this missed demographic. From spoken word to massages, Jason has you covered. If this documentary hits your city, I suggest you give it a look see (lol). You’ll laugh, learn a LOT about music history, and watch Jason unfold a dream.

IMDB | FunkJazz Kafe | @FunkJazzKafe | YouTube

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