Art of Cool Fest offers mix of free programming

— The Art of Cool Project’s fourth annual festival is poised to be its biggest yet. Taking over downtown Durham this weekend, the event will feature headliners Common, George Clinton and Revive Big Band.

You don’t necessarily need a ticket to enjoy this celebration of progressive jazz and alternative soul music. A plethora of free programming is also offered Thursday through Sunday.

Here are some of the free events you should check out:


Durham A-Z: J is for Jazz Opening Party at Museum of Durham History – J is for Jazz, the tenth installment in Durham: A-Z, explores a piece of the rich history of jazz in Durham. These local jazz studies programs at North Carolina Central University and Duke University, coupled with an enthusiastic community, provided students with performance opportunities and experience both in and out of the classroom.

The President’s Party with Empire Strikes Brass at The Blue Note Grill – The force is strong with Empire Strikes Brass. With the capability to perform as a full 10-piece stage band or 6-7 piece combo lineup, add DJ Push/Pull for an electronic set or take you to New Orleans by transforming into a true second line parade, ESB’s versatility allows them to adapt to virtually any party setting imaginable.


Black on Black Art Exhibit Reception at American Tobacco Campus’ Reed Building – “Black On Black” is an exhibition where curators of color asked artists of color to share their thoughts on identity in their own voice. Black on Black features 10 North Carolina-based artists of color and includes paintings, video and mixed media.


30 years “Paid in Full” at American Underground – A fireside chat on the impact and creative process of the classic hip hop album “Paid In Full” by Rakim and Eric B.

The Science of Cool at American Tobacco Campus – The North Carolina Science Festival will present live science shows on a stage in the Cage at ATC. Come see some amazing feats of science, try volunteering for an experiment and learn about some truly “cool” science involving liquid nitrogen. On top of watching a live show, you will have the rare opportunity to ask scientists any questions you can think up. Bee Downtown will also host a show.

Parents Just Don’t Understand at American Underground – Whether you are looking to hire a younger workforce or just trying to get your kid to take out the trash, this session is for you. Branding specialist Tru Pettigrew offers millennial insights.

F.A.M.E. at American Underground – This panel discussion will celebrate the intersection of fashion, art, music and entertainment. Domo Jones, chief strategy officer at Medium PR, and Raleigh Denim’s Sarah Yarborough are among the speakers.

Who Sampled? at American Underground – Take a journey with the lessons in jazz crew as you revisit classic records of yesteryear and their contributions to today’s hits. Kevin “The Moose” Anderson and Montez “The Whiz” Martin of Lessons in Jazz/WHOV-FM host.

Equity and Entrepreneurship at American Underground – Sherrel Dorsey, the founder of The PLUG, a daily tech newsletter, and Tia Bethea, the community impact manager at Google Fiber, are among the panelists who will be discussing the important roles organizations play in ensuring that access to opportunities are equally distributed.

Jus Once Band at The Stack at American Tobacco – The Jus Once Band was formed in 2003 through the vision and leadership of Santonio Parker. The band has become one of the hottest and most demanding in the area. Jus Once has performed with national artists such as Chrissette Michele, Mint Condition, Con funk shun, Dougie Fresh, Next, 112, Dej Loaf, Arrested Development, Zapp, Sunshine Anderson, Carl Thomas and Atlantic Starr just to name a few.

VR Vault at American Underground – This is an interactive demo of the latest 360 and virtual reality platforms in sports, music and culture. Speakers include LEVR Studios’ creative director and producer Mike Cuales and Lucid Dream CEO Johsua Setzer.


The Beats Dusk ‘Til Durham at The Durham Hotel rooftop – Now in its ninth year, The Beast is an innovative and electrifying hip hop and jazz ensemble known for pushing creative boundaries and dynamic collaborations.

Get the full schedule for Art of Cool 2017

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