Groovin in the Park 2013 Delivers another winning combination of Reggae and Rhythm and Blues
Groovin In the Park Story by ©Sheron Hamilton-Pearson
Photography & Feature by Empress K - Founder & Editor at www.ReggaeReflection.com
The road to Queens on Sunday June 30, 2013 was a well-travelled one, or so it seemed as this writer circled the perimeter of Roy Wilkins Park, ready to enjoy what had for weeks been promoted as the biggest and best park show to hit New York City.
Tradition dictates that ‘upcoming’ artists are the warm-up act and so on this occasion Culture Wise, Princess Menen and Mr. Glamarus had the unenviable task of kicking things off. The show was ably MC’d by Clement Hume aka Ras Clem and Jamaican radio d-j Richie B who introduced the first of the headline acts; Half Pint, a last minute replacement for the previously advertised Cocoa Tea whose lack of work visa meant a very late cancellation. Half Pint's easily recognizable vocals to ”Greetings” wafting in the air was definitely an indication that the show had started. Dressed to impress in a red brocade jacket and white dress shirt, although a tad hoarse, he warmed up the early crowds who were steadily streaming into the park.
Half Pint brings his Greetings to #GroovinInThePark
Next up on stage came the man Barrington Levy, still performing, still relevant and looking slimmer and trimmer than he has done for some time. It was a delight to listen to songs of yesteryear that still resonate and evoke such sweet memories, “Under Mi Sensi”, “Black Roses”, “Too Experienced” and the ever popular crowd pleaser “Murderer”. Barrington's re-working of “Here I Come” definitely got the younger fans bobbing heads and swaying to the pulsating rhythms. Disappointingly, his set seemed to be cut very short, with a truncated performance lasting no more than 30 minutes, which left fans wanting for more.
Barrington Levy photos (click on each photo to enlarge)
Queen Ifrica, The Fyah Mumma
The only woman to represent reggae at this event, The Fyah Mumah otherwise known as Queen Ifrica was next to perform and she certainly did not disappoint. Standing barefooted as the rain which had been threatening all day, finally fell heavily at first and then eased to a steady patter. Nothing could dampen her time in the spotlight, her seamless interaction with the crowd was certainly one of the highlights of the show. At her urging, the patrons willingly indicated their approval of her set by raising their umbrellas in unison to her lyrics. Looking out into the crowd during Ifrica's set, the visual of a virtual sea of undulating umbrellas was indeed a sight. More indicative of a dancehall set, the Queen unleashed a rapid succession of hit after hit. Always delivering biting social commentary, she left no stone unturned ending her set with the poignant “Daddy don't Touch me There. Queen Ifrica was the only artist to receive a resounding encore, earning a justified seal of approval.
Photo SlideShow of Queen Ifrica at #GroovinInThePark
Not to be outdone, Mr. Kevin Jackson pulled no punches for his time on stage. He delivered not only a secular set of his usual standards, but also provided music for the soul in his gospel renditions. Classic among them of course “Amazing Grace”. Red seemed to be the color of the day as Sanchez appeared casually dressed in red shirt and blue jeans. His voice could be clearly heard at the far reaches of the park where food vendors were busy selling their wares and where I found some very tasty treats to quench my thirst and quell hunger pangs.
As the afternoon wore on and the sky cleared, the anticipation was building as next up on stage came British group, the internationally acclaimed Steel Pulse (added to the roster in place of Toots injured from a bottle thrown by an overzealous fan!) headed by front man David Hinds resplendent in his multi-colored raiment which had the crowd abuzz. Steel Pulse has always enjoyed massive international success and support, but somehow that did not seem to translate in this Queens park setting. After spatterings of applause, they seemed to lose the crowd, and despite the lackluster response their set continued for over an hour.
Sanchez Photos (click on each photo to enlarge)
Steel Pulse Photos (click on each photo to enlarge)
Scenes at #GroovinInthePark
Patti Labelle up next for the Rhythm and Blues segment
Dusk was drawing in, the rain had now totally ceased as an expectant hush descended. It was clear everyone was awaiting the long-anticipated Ms. Patti Labelle! Introduced by Shayla of 107.5 WBLS, Ms. Patti as she is affectionately known, sashayed on stage in an exquisite light blue ensemble. For a woman who recently celebrated her 69th birthday, The Diva looks the picture of health. Of course she has drastically cut back on her on stage antics, but she still has the change of shoes, strategically placed on top of the grand piano.
Whipping out her mirror she quipped that she just wanted to ensure “that everything was in place and nothing had fallen”. Her performance was in a word “magical”. The crowd was spellbound, you could hear a pin drop as she mesmerized all within earshot, dropping classic after classic. My personal favorite - “If Only You Knew”, delivered with exactly the same pathos as when the song was first recorded. After Patti, I'm sorry to say everything else was anti-climactic. TGT, Tank, Ginuwine and Tyrese performed for the ladies, but I was fully satisfied after seeing the Diva up close and personal.
Patti Labelle photos (click on each photo to enlarge)
Tank, Ginuwine and Tyrese (#TGT) performing for the Ladies as they closed out #GroovinInThePark 2013 (click on each photo to enlarge)
The event, brainchild of Christopher Roberts, The Door CEO and his team again melded reggae with rhythm and blues in a winning combination. www.groovininthepark.com
Sheron Hamilton-Pearson was born in London. With a passion for writing, she has had articles published at www.jamlink.com, Where Itz At newspaper and www.imagesnewsletter.com and has provided news stories to www.streethypenewsletter.com.
Empress K is the Founder, Primary Photo-Journalist and Editor of www.reggaereflection.com. Reggae Reflection has gained international recognition with quality coverage of premier reggae events in Jamaica, Canada, Trinidad and Tobago, Aruba, Barbados, Guyana, and Nigeria as well as numerous completed photography assignments for notable reggae events in the New England area, NY, Alabama, and Florida region. Festival coverage has included Groovin In the Park, Six Flags NJ Caribbean Concert Series, IRAWMA, HangOut Festival Alabama, 9Mile Festival Miami, Rebel Salute, Sunfest FL and more.
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