The Fans Go Wild with Non-Stop Music at
Groovin’ in the Park 2015
Non-stop entertainment started with musical presentations by up and coming artists in a festival segment they are now calling “Groovin’ Idol.” As a long-time advocate for professional platforms for qualified emerging artists to be seen and heard, along with the commitment of NY area producers to help build the visibility of emerging Reggae artists, I really enjoyed this segment and the incredible talent who merited the opportunity. Most noteworthy is an artist that I’ve long admired, a Roots & Culture singer with strong lyrics and an exceptional presentation style professionally known as Iyata Safari; her rich melodic voice flawlessly belted out three original songs: “Safari” (sung acapella), “Mama Afrika” and “I’m a Black Woman” that were all met by appreciative applause. Noteworthy praise for stellar performances are also awarded to Vision, Pres Fyah, and Taj Manchan who audiences should most-definitely look forward to hearing more from in the future.
As a last minute addition to the lineup, Reggae legend Judy Mowatt returned again this year to grace the stage and perform many of the songs she is loved for such as “I Shall Sing.” Needless to say her confident and commanding stage presence is a powerful draw. Her songs are truly heartfelt and a sheer pleasure to listen and sing along to lyrics that are indelible in my mind and those of countless fans. If she appeared every year that would be just fine with me because Ms Mowatt is an artist who you can never tire of hearing. Next up was Luciano nicknamed “Jah Messenjah” who was up to his usual high-energy antics and even managed to outdo himself at Groovin’ In the Park 2015. At one point he left the stage heading out into the dense crowd all the while singing his heart out. Luciano’s segment went over exceedingly well with fans although appearing to be a nightmare for security forces who he brushed off as he literally jumped off stage to meet the people and ran through the audience. Now imagine Luciano in the midst of a packed field completely swarmed by countless fans giving him hugs and kisses but never missing a beat. Singing many of his hit songs my personal favorites were “Sweep Over My Soul”, “It’s Me Again Jah” and “Give Praise” all of which were tremendous successes with the audience who sang along. Since its inception Reggae has been music for the people and Luciano drove home that reminder with beautiful inspirational lyrics and fearless actions.
Known to fans by many names such as The Fireman, King David, The Prophet and King Shango (thought to be his personal favorite), Capleton performed next. Just as the audience began delving into his presentation the already vocal audience was caught off guard and turned up notches in excitement with the unexpected entrance of multiple Grammy Award winning artist, Stephen Marley. Together they sang the incredible 2014 release “Rockstone” from Stephen’s upcoming LP “Revelation Part 2: The Fruit of Life” (Stephen Marley featuring Capleton and Sizzla) as well as “It Was Written,” a song released in 2001 by Damian “Junior Gong” Marley (featuring Capleton, Stephen and Rapper Drag-On) heating up the stage 350 degrees!
Bolton performed a smart set reminding us why his name is as relative today as it was at the beginning of his career. His set included the type of music he excels in performing such as “Sitting On The Top Of The Bay,” and the song that won him his first Grammy for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance in 1989, the tearjerker “How Am I Supposed To Live Without You.” From there Bolton pleasingly and effortlessly slid into two great makeovers that simply capped off the perfect day, “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” and “When A Man Loves A Woman.”
Barry G and Billy Ocean receive Congressional Proclamations
Groovin’ In The Park is staged with family attendance in mind as evidenced by the fact that children under the age of twelve entered free and not one featured act was prohibitive to the ears of children or young adults. The evening faces of exiting attendees reflected happiness and excitement signaling repeat patronage for the 2016 production.
Enjoy the Slide Show of all photos below
After covering Groovin’ In The Park for five consecutive years, the day’s only drawback for our team of media professionals (as well as other teams) were the restrictive media allowances and the difficulties we experienced in working side by side as a team (as is our custom) while trying to obtain such things as photographs, artist soundbites or interviews needed to complete our coverage. Although we appreciated receiving media credentialing, the pass restricted us to areas that were not optimal for producing full-coverage. For example, we had no access to the photo pit and had to shoot from within a crowd of enthusiastic fans; we were disappointed at not being able to obtain even one shot of our signature off stage images to share with our readers. Also hampered by the assigned location, our correspondent had great difficulty viewing the stage “at all times.” Even with the provision of an official media tent, not all artists stopped by and in any case, if we left to catch up to an artist we were unable to return to the area carved out to get a good photo or view of the concert. Frankly we do not see the logic of restricting legitimate media coverage so severely, especially when you have such a great event. However it’s worth pointing out in the hope that their policies will be revised in time for next years staging.
Empress K is the Founder, Editor, and Primary Photo-Journalist of www.reggaereflection.com. Reggae Reflection has gained international recognition providing 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, Montreal Reggae Festival, Sunfest FL, Reggae in the Hills and more.