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Hip-hop and r&b shine at Jazz Cafe

Northeastern Pennsylvania’s hip-hop and r&b artists will come together for a chance to make themselves known at “Where It’s At,” a monthly showcase for local urban artists. It will be held at the River Street Jazz Café in Plains on Sunday, Dec. 7 at 9:45 p.m.

“We feature local DJs and local hip-hop artists to help get their names out there, for whatever they want to do: get a career started, have fun,” said the organizer who goes by Gino the Emcee. The event began as a way of meeting the needs of local musicians.

“It’s a really good scene collectively, but as far as a movement, it’s been something we’re hoping to accomplish,” he said.

“There are not many venues in the Northeastern Pennsylvania region that are allowing hip-hop. We’d like to build an audience,” said organizer Dana Barrack.

Barrack believes this area is not quite the spot for urban music. He does not believe the area’s demographics stifle the growth of the event, but the advertisement and promotion could use improvement.

A Newport News, Va., native, Barrack attended Wilkes University, and while there he ran Urban Programming at the student radio station for nine months. He said listeners increased from 300 to 5,000 during his time at the station. While at Wilkes, he met his friend Jacose (JC), who is a native of Puerto Rico and the other half of the group Track Masons. Together they have organized the showcase with Gino.

The duo has been working over the past few years to give voices to local rappers. Their influences include the greats: The Neptunes, Timbaland, Scott Storch and Swizz Beats.

“We’ve produced hip-hop and r&b music for about three and a half years,” Barrack says. “We just finished our third album — a solo project by Isaiah — and we are about to wrap up Bee EZ’s CD.”

Bee EZ is a fellow rapper and one of the expected performers at Sunday’s event. He will be, for the first time, performing his single “Dream Girl,” which was produced by the Track Masons. DJ Hersh will also be on the scene spinning some urban music as well as some dance hits. Many of the performers have previously worked with Dana and JC, and others actually sought them out in order to participate. A few other participants will be Anxious MC, Type Ill and the group High Def.

“This is our seventh month. We started on June 8, and we are, overall, hoping to build an audience,” says Barrack.

For the future he is hoping to move the event to another night of the week, one that would have them in competition with local clubs. They are hoping to get a Saturday night for next month. Sunday’s show will be the ’08 “rap up.” The expected turn out is somewhere between 50-150 people, possibly building off of past successes with the event.

“Where It’s At” is held monthly on the first Sunday. The event is open to those 21 and over, and the doors open at 8 p.m.

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“Where It’s At,” River Street Jazz Café, 665 N. River St., Plains, Sunday, Dec. 7, 9:45 p.m. Tickets: $7 Info: myspace.com/danabesus, danabesus@yahoo.com

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