With a lineup of Beres Hammond, Wayne Wonder, Anthony B, and Etana, Lakefest was anticipated as one of the most anticipated reggae stageshows this summer. The setting was one that was intended to be serene, relaxing, and fun for all members of the family. Lincoln Lake Lodge served as the venue, and it was an ideal one as it was large enough to accommodate a large crowd and safe enough for kids to venture about and take part in the various activities that are available on site. Activities included basketball, swimming, jet skis among other things. This was so until the rains began.
The rain however, did not deter the crowds from coming in. Jamaicans.com was on site at 11:30am and already, the fans had started arriving. Although the gates were set to open at 12pm, they were asked to wait until the crew had set up, as the weather had impeded their start time. The live music was scheduled to start at 1pm and was pushed back to 3pm.
It is easy to tell that intensive planning went into this event. Promoted by HAPILOS ENT and DNZ (Diva Nikki Z) Productions, the show was being advertised since late spring and tickets have been available for sale since May 1st. This is fortunate as it seems that due to the weather, the majority of the attendees were those who purchased presold tickets. The widely publicized event had HOT 93.7, Connecticut’s Hip Hop, R&B and Reggae radio station, on the premises. Winford Williams from CVM’s On-Stage was also on site.
The set up allowed the patrons to have easy access to food, an array of reasonably priced alcoholic beverages, and the stage area. An array of Jamaican cuisine was catered by Tower Isle’s and ranged from your typical jerk chicken and beef patties, to saltfish and roasted breadfruit. I believe I even spotted roasted corn for sale. The food handlers were all dressed in clean white chef’s uniforms and worked with great expedience to serve the patrons in line.
A view from the stage revealed a sea of fans under umbrellas, bouncing to the music provided by the Black Hustler Sound, and eagerly awaiting the start of the headliners’ performances. It was not until close to 7pm when the main entertainment kicked off, with Etana gracing the stage dressed in a black Bob Marley t-shirt, red straight skirt, and matching red scarf. Her locked hair was regally styled in an updo. She belted out her hits such as “Warrior Love”, “I Am Not Afraid” and did a Bob Marley cover. She closed her performance with “Blessings” and Anthony B preceded her with a very lively performance.
Anthony B thanked the patrons for their support as they stood in the rain dressed in raincoats and under umbrellas. His performance was very energetic and had the crowds rocking to his hits such as “Don’t Worry”, “Good Life”, and “Raid the Barn”. He also captivated the attention of female spectators with his lyrics to “Tease Her” as well as his sporadic gyrations. There was a band change as the crowds anticipated the next two entertainers to come.
The rain seemed to have held up and in perfect timing, as Wayne Wonder appeared next, in his ever present shades. He performed many of his popular singles. The members of the Harmony House Band had everyone grooving as the audience enjoyed live versions of “Joyride”, ”Bashment Girl”, “Strange Things”, “Anything Goes”, “Informer”, among others. He closed his performance with my personal favorite, ”No Letting Go”. There was not one dissatisfied person in the audience as all were seen swaying and singing along with the artiste.
Then the moment we were all waiting for arrived. The Reggae legend, international superstar, and Lovers Rock extraordinaire took the stage. Mr. Beres Hammond was greeted by hoots, hollers, and cheers from eager fans. His frail appearance was misleading as the legend himself was all over the stage as he performed hit after hit after hit. He even stepped on to the huge sound boxes quite a few times as he bent over and touched hands with screaming fans. Ecstatic audience members sang along in unison as the crooner belted out many of his popular tunes such as “Double Trouble”, “One Dance”, “Putting Up A Resistance”, “I Feel Good”, and “Pull It Up” among many others. He capped his performance with “Rock Away”, which is what we all did.
The rain did not damper the outcome of Lakefest as it can be viewed as a huge success despite the weather. I did not hear one single complaint from the concert goers as they departed from the grounds. In fact, I did overhear some non-dancers remarking that they felt compelled to move during the performances. The stellar performances, diverse Jamaican foods, and array of alcoholic beverages combined to make this a superb event and I truly look forward to next year’s concert.
Special thanks to Xavier Murphy, Diva Nikki Z, Malaika LePine, and the staff who organized Lakefest 2011 and made everything possible.