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Going Against the Flow: FunkJazz Kafé Founder Finds Ways to Re-Invent

By A. Scott Walton Executive Editor | 7/3/2013, 8:34 a.m.
Jason Orr, the FunkJazz founder, has a coy way of deflecting conversation away from the musical masterpiece he’s curated.

The promoter acts unfazed by the task. This time around he’s got major headphone companies, breweries, raw food producers, spas, radio stations, clothing brands and magazines sponsoring his iconoclastic mix of entertainment.

He walks us toward the dressing rooms where the first reels were taped.

Locked.

It’s the only room he can’t access. Understandable. One of the tour buses for Dave Chappelle’s comedy tour is rumbling outside. Some people prefer their privacy.

The imaginary FunkJazz mystery tour proceeds. Up creaky staircases, down spooky hallways, and passed eclectic arrays of antique sofas, rugs and cabinets.

“To me, FunkJazz Kafé is essentially a wellness festival,” Orr says. “I’m all about tricking people into seeing different ways for living well. Whether it’s the art you appreciate, the food you eat, the way you treat your body or the music you love, that’s all part of the complete picture.”

After a brisk walk through rooms where patrons can receive massages, tweet the experience, absorb reggae and poetry and small band performances, we wind up with Orr on the upper tier of seats overlooking the main stage.

What, we ask, does this view remind you of, twenty years later?

“This balcony moving, rocking, and pieces of the ceiling falling down,” he says. “Nobody had seen anything like it. FunkJazz is an experience you don’t forget.”