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  WINDY CITY TIMES

Slo 'Mo creates an R&B paradise for Pride
by Melissa Wasserman
2015-06-24

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Slo 'Mo: Slow Jams for Homos ( and their Fans ) created its own rhythm nation with Paradise at The Promontory on June 19.

"I think tonight was a beautiful picture of everything that Slo 'Mo aims to be—community-engaging, celebratory, full of love," said Slo 'Mo Founder and Paradise party host/producer Kristen Kaza.

For the past four years, Slo 'Mo has called Logan Square's The Whistler home. The third Thursday of every month, R&B lovers are welcome to let their hips swing at the award-winning dance party. DJs Tess and Audio Jack spin the hits from a range of decades. Kaza said Slo 'Mo also aims to evolve by holding concerts, the Proud to Run 5K, trivia nights and storytelling events throughout the year.

"We just want more opportunities to bring people together and make them feel good about themselves and we could all use another chance to feel good and feel some love," Kaza said.

Kaza described Paradise as a love letter to the Slo 'Mo family. This Pride celebration welcomed about 250 guests to the Hyde Park venue and although, it resembled Slo 'Mo's classic style, it was taken to another level with live entertainment.

"There's plenty of events that happen on the North Side and many of them are fantastic, but there certainly isn't a need there," said Kaza. "We had some of the best musicians in Chicago perform some of our favorite R&B covers and I just cant wait to do it again."

The Paradise house band and guest artists including JC Brooks, Kiara Lanier and Rapper Chicks performed covers of some favorites, while Tess and Audio Jack carried on the classic Slo 'Mo party style into the late hours of the evening. The musical range carried from the old school to the newer school with songs by Janet Jackson, Sade, Beyonce, Luther Vandross and many more.

"I think R&B—really, more than any other kind of music, in my opinion—brings people together, and I think that's because it's extraordinarily nostalgic and it makes you feel good," Kaza said. "Because of that, we draw people of different races, ethnicities, identities and expressions. We have people that come that are 21 and we have people that come that are 41. It makes you feel good to be in the presence of good music and other people that are loving it. So, I think it has bred a really diverse culture."

"It's the music of my life," said Elizabeth Cronin, who has been part of the Slo 'Mo family for three years. "Kristen and I first bonded over music—over Mary J. Blige and Anita Baker and D'Angelo. This entire Slo 'Mo soundtrack is like seventh grade through college for me."

Charlie Coffeen put the evening's band together and curated the live set list with Kaza. He explained he selected the best Chicago musicians to give Slo 'Mo fans something extra.

"Soulful music is my main thing," said Coffeen, who played keyboard along with the band. "I like music that moves me and that moves people. So, tonight the music that moves people is '90s feel-good, early 2000 throw-back jams, so we do that. There's guys in the studio playing this and they sound great, so to play it live, there's something to it for musicians to get this song and play it and transform it into something different."

A portion of the event's proceeds went toward South Side-based social justice organization Affinity Community Services. Affinity works with and on behalf of Black LGBTQ communities, queer youth, and allies.

"Slo 'Mo has always been about community gathering and really supporting the people in the family network," said Kaza. "Slo 'Mo and Affinity line up really well and they're a really important organization. They're doing critical work here in Chicago. I hope people continue to support them and that this party gave them a little bit of a platform to do that."

For more information, visit: www.slomoparty.com/ .


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