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'Perfect Blends' brings urban jazz to State Theater

J. Ross Parrelli and friends host wine and music event
By: Krissi Khokhobashvili, Journal Features Editor
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Music lovers looking to sip some wine and hit the dance floor would do well to head to “Perfect Blends” Saturday night at the State Theater.

Auburn native J. Ross Parrelli is coming to town from her home in New York City, following shows in Los Angeles and San Francisco. The soulful singer/songwriter brings a talent not often seen these days – in addition to belting out powerful lyrics, she’s also an accomplished rapper.

Parrelli is joined by drummer and Auburn native Colt45, Auburn’s Giorgi Khokhobashvili on electric violin, Mad Monk on bass and DJ Lex Level, head DJ for Souls of Mischief. Lex just returned from a tour of Europe, performing with Talib Kweli and Dilated Peoples. He also performed at the South by Southwest music and film festival in Austin, Texas. A DJ for more than 20 years, Lex said he met Parrelli onstage in San Diego through a mutual friend, rapper and producer Mr. Brady.

“I don’t meet a lot of female rappers,” Lex said. “I meet singers, just straight singers, not rappers. To meet somebody who raps and sings is kind of rare.”

In addition to sipping Placer County wines, audience members can listen to a genre of music Parrelli describes as “urban jazz." She said the audience can expect to hear tunes from Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye combined with old-school jazz and hip-hop.

“We call it urban in the sense that it is definitely hip-hop, but it is definitely more of a street sound,” Parrelli said. “And within that street sound you get a lot of poetry, you get a lot of lyrics that tell the story.”

Ticket and wine sales will benefit the Auburn Hip Hop Congress, a group that holds a special place in Parrelli’s heart. The congress provides area youth opportunities to connect with the community and to progress as artists through outlets such as writing and reciting workshops and other hip-hop culture-oriented programs.

“Perfect Blends is yet another avenue for the Auburn Hip Hop Congress organization to reach a more diverse audience and demonstrate the value and pride our youth take in our community,” said Natalie Pohley, community and youth organizer.

Parrelli, who graduated from Placer High School in 1999, teamed up with the Hip Hop Congress two years ago. Parrelli was impressed with the grassroots efforts of the congress, and offered her services to help teach the team how to market and brand itself. She also shares with congress youth the story of how she evolved from a teenager who became interested in hip-hop while spying on her older brother as he jammed with friends to working as a full-time musician in New York City. She recently released her first album, “Lov’n Mak’n Music.”

“They’re taking such an incredible stance of bringing the youth and getting them involved,” Parrelli said of the Hip Hop Congress. “And they’re able to say, ‘Hey, this woman is from Auburn, and she’s in New York now and she’s following her dreams, and apparently this works. You can be creative and smart and intelligent and make a business out of it.’”

Reach Krissi Khokhobashvili at krissik@goldcountrymedia.com. Follow her on Twitter, @AuburnJournalAE.

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Perfect Blends

What: Benefit concert for Auburn Hip Hop Congress 

When: Saturday, March 31. Doors open at 8; live band starts at 9 p.m.

Where: State Theater, 985 Lincoln Way, Auburn

Cost: Pre-sale tickets $20 at www.placerarts.org; $25 at the door. Glasses of wine sold at the door. 18 and over only; ID required to buy wine

Info: www.placerarts.org; (530) 885-5670