Story by: Sheron Hamilton-Pearson
The media launch for the upcoming Groovin event was a pleasant harbinger of things to come at Roy Wilkins Park on June 25 2017.
Using the event to announce the headline acts for the upcoming summer show, the party atmosphere climbed palpably with the revelation of each headline act. In a move perhaps inspired by the One World Ska & Rock Steady Festival held in Jamaica in 2016 to laud 50 years of that Jamaican musical genre, the production team behind the Groovin brand have decided to showcase the veteran artists. I’msure the blistering performances at both the World Ska & Rock Steady Festival and Rebel Salute made it easy for the team to select their performers of choice.
The first artist to appear, Freddie ‘the Captain’ McGregor seemed to have divested himself of his trademark waist length locks, but looked leaner and lighter. With a gleam in his eye he expressed his happiness at being chosen as one of four headline pioneer reggae acts gracing the Groovin stage this year. The next icon, Leroy Sibbles bounced in like a happy kid, wearing an all white casual outfit, theone thing in common with all the artists is their longevity and years of service. Collectively, their contribution to the reggae industry totals more than 150 years! Rounding out the trio of performers present, the debonair Ken Boothe, glowing and color coordinated with his wife of over 40 years ever present by his side, sitting quietly, soaking up the atmosphere. Providing a seamless transition between live interaction with the artists and their recordings, kudos to broadcaster Ras Clem for turningup the party vibes.
Ibo Cooper, founding member of legendary band Third World was on hand to provide a teaser of what makes this Groovin so special. Undoubtedly Reggae music hits its pinnacle of recognition and acceptance with its fusion of a Philharmonic Orchestra, the late John Holt and Freddie McGregor have had the pleasure of performing with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, so Groovin has pulled out all stops in harnessing the power of a the Reggae Symphonic Orchestra, branded as GITPRSO (Groovin inThe Park Reggae Symphonic Orchestra) – reggae purists and lovers will be in for a treat June 25 2017. Legendary band leader and singer in his own right, Lloyd Parks performs with his We The People Bandto provide the ‘official’ reggae flava to the more formal orchestral sound.
Tarrus Riley also appears on the Groovin stage this year and the RnB component comes from Robert ‘Pied Piper’ Kelly aka R. Kelly. Those fans who anticipated his appearance in 2012 will hopefully turnout to see him perform hits like ‘In the Closet’, ‘Step in the Name of Love’, and the iconic ‘I Believe I can Fly’. Rounding out the announcements, members of the Lenox Road Baptist Church were on hand to give a small slice of the spiritual food they will offer on the day.
No female performers were announced at this media launch – let’s hope this oversight will be speedily resolved – especially since we are still celebrating the feminine gender for Women’s History month.
As a lover of ska and rock steady, I’m already anticipating the summer and June 25 in particular.