Parisians, Hello JiZoo Play Old North

French lyrics and quality beats mingled on a windy, sunny Saturday across from Crown Candy Oct. 20.

The crew at UrbArts coordinated with Métro-Unviers-Cité, The Cultural Services of the French Embassy in Chicago, and the Centre Francophone at Webster University to present the community performance as part of City/Cité St. Louis: A Transatlantic Exchange on History, Culture, Politics and Democracy in the Changing City; a three-day series of cultural events, presentations, panel discussions and performances at various locations around the city Oct. 18-20. It was the fourth edition of the series, following incarnations in Paris, Chicago and Detroit.

That’s a mouthful of organizations and mission statements for sure, but the group of musicians, caterers, locals and event organizers on hand for the free show in Old North this weekend made for a friendly and easygoing mix. It felt like a daytime afterparty with great snacks and a few grassy spots on the lawn to stretch out with a blanket.

James Biko (FKA DJ Needles) set the tone with beats and remixes until Toulouse-based Mouss & Hakim took the stage for a set of original pop songs, Algerian folk and energetic singalongs.

Mustapha and Hakim Amokrane are well known in France for songs that address political and social injustice, especially in underserved neighborhoods.

Following the French, Hello JiZoo and The Crusade Band took the stage with a catchy warmup number and immediately captured the attention of passersby. Their set had some musical misfires here and there but the tunes were crowd-pleasers on the group’s positivity fell on receptive ears.

It was family affair, with kids eating and dancing among the grownups.

Jizoo told the crowd, “These are my friends, my family. This [singer Drea Vocalz] is my fiancée and our kids are at they grandma’s house or they’d be up here too.”

Musicians from all three groups supported each other and made conversation with Old North residents and business owners between sets.

The performers posed for a group shot after the show and the feelings were clearly collegial.

Prior to the Old North show, a full agenda of events took place at three locations beginning Thursday, including the Missouri History Museum, Webster University, and the Pulitzer Arts Foundation.

Project coordinator Rachel Souvré said, “We were excited to collaborate with UrbArts to bring City/Cité to a community space in Old North with a free concert and lunch on our final day.”

According to Souvré, the exchange  will continue in 2019 when the series is hosted for a second time in Paris.

City/Cité contributing organizations included the Missouri History Museum, Musée National de l’Histoire de l’Immigration, Saint Louis Art Museum, and Tactikollectif. The excellent eats were provided by Welcome Neighbor STL.

For more information about UrbArts programs and services, visit http://www.urbarts.org or call 314-627-1603.

James Walling

James Walling is a writer with over 10 years experience managing and editing newspapers in the Pacific Northwest, Prague (CZ), Central Texas, and Northeast Montana. He lives in the O'Fallon Park neighborhood in north St. Louis.

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