Camera! Action! Roots, reggae, rocksteady, ska, r&b, gospel, and a tinge of dancehall flooded this year’s Groovin In The Park stage on Sunday, June 25th now in its ninth year at Roy Wilkins Park in Queens, New York. From all indications this annual musical extravaganza’s affluent price tag did not deter the fans. After all, the exclusive privileges were most enviable from a distance.
Known for versatility and class, Groovin’ organizers line up of debonair stars in the Rock Steady segment with Tarrus Riley, Freddie McGregor, U-Roy, Ken Booth, and Leroy Sibbles, crooned hits from decade to decade in sync with Lloyd Parks and We The People Band, under Ibo Cooper’s directive genius from the genesis of the Third World band for one of the most entertaining musical luxuries. While Emcee extraordinaire Tommy Cowan, singer-songwriter, musician, and record producer whose career began in the mid-60’s with The Merricoles took us back to genres of music that brought sensationalism to Jamaica, their renditions were indicative of the decade that brought rhythm (strings and drums) to numerous baby boomers whose appreciation of an era has never diminished. To many patrons this was the set that stole the show. We were left totally satiated.
Busy’s rude awakening
It is believed inclusivity has its perks but this year Groovin’ In The Park had a rude awakening! From its obviously poorly executed running order to the emergence of dancehall reggae artist Reanno Devon Gordon formerly Glendale Goshia Gordon, better known by his stage name ‘Busy Signal’ entry was superb and his eminent repertoire Hustle, Nah Go A Jail Again, One More Night, and other selections had the crowd Groovin’. Suddenly the tone of the show took an unexpected turn. Busy Signal whose appearance in the iconic line up since his release from prison on cocaine charges in the United States failed to complete his set as his eager fans looked on utterly befuddled. The artist during his tirade insinuated that his time was being ‘cut’ in an effort to realign the program. His fans did not hold back their disappointment and ‘booed’ endlessly for his return to the stage. After several minutes the inevitable happened. Busy Signal was escorted from the stage. An unfortunate occurrence to what would have been a sterling performance.
Kelly’s 360-degree turn
And if the preceding segment was not interesting enough, Robert Sylvester Kelly aka R. Kelly debut spun the show in to a 360-degree turn with his notably raunchy and edgy performance. One could only assume that his use of the egregious ‘F’ bombs and ‘crotch holding’ gestures were not included in his contract considering the family oriented setting. The spills of endless boos’ from the audience did not deter his opening hip-hop selections to the delight of his female fans. What was most interesting was the manner in which he totally disregarded the obvious recommendation to err on the side of caution. Needless to say his satire spoke volumes. Soon after Kelly picked up the pace with his old school Step In The Name of Love, Ignition, Bump & Grind, and a slew of hits. You could say he did what he came to do.
Another year of great expectations met overall. The next twelve months is just around the corner and we’ll be Groovin’ in 2018.
Photo by Ustinov Luke