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Groovin In The Park 2012

Groovin In The Park 2012

Groovin In The Park 2012

By on - Photos by Empress K - Comment

Jimmy Cliff, Beenie Man, Beres Hammond and more in New York.

Sunday July 1, heralded the long-awaited festival Groovin In The Park in Queens, New York.  Building on previous collaborations and some would say completing the circle, reggae and RnB came together with a line-up consisting of Boys to Men, Jimmy Cliff, Beenie Man, Beres Hammond and Gladys Knight.

Groovin In The Park 2012

The show started military time – promptly at 2:00 pm.

"Boys to Men singing to tracks failed to resonate with the crowd," said Sandra from Brooklyn, New York. 

The crowd was anxiously awaiting the next performer and the anticipation is palpable as Jimmy Cliff steps up on stage in his red and gold leisure suit. For a man in his 70’s Jimmy Cliff’s stamina and voice control is something newer artists could take note of. He gives a more than credible performance, including a mini history of the root of Jamaican music with his 1964 King of Kings ska hit song. 

A re-working his “Vietnam” to “Afghanistan” was made relevant and contemporary. "Wonderful World” acts as a testimony of Jimmy’s life and love for fellow man and environment. He shows that he still has the art of showmanship as he reprises a scene from his cult movie The Harder They Come. His set his pure energy and brings back a rolling tide of memories when he sings “Many Rivers to Cros”, “The Harder They Come” and “I Can See Clearly Now”.

Raga Shanti aka Dr. Kingsley Stewart currently enjoying a revival of popularity with New York City audiences, engages in his trademark banter before announcing the next act. Beenie Man, who recently had his work visa reinstated after an absence of two years, retained his self-proclaimed title of King of the Dance Hall. With his trademark rail-thin body, clad in jeans, t-shirt and knee high skate-boots Beenie Man performed with his usual gusto, gyrations, popular dance moves and self-adoration – ably assisted by singer CJ

He even introduced his 16 year old daughter to his New York fans. He knows how to evoke those dancehall memories and throws himself into Toy Friend, Let him Go, Bookshelf, Row Like a Boat, Who am I, and when he unleashed his Badman - all you could see in the park was a sea of fingers in the air. Beenie’s encore is the Bob Marley classic Redemption Song.

Groovin In The Park 2012WBLS long-time hosts Shaila and Lenny Green introduced Beres Hammond as I'm taking a cool-out break from the blazing sun. 

The sweet dulcet tones of one of the best singer/songwriters in Jamaica swell and fill the park.  Well-loved staples like Step Aside, Come Back Home, One Dance Sweetness, Beat Myself, Full Attention and Tempted to Touch had folks hanging onto his every syllable and doing their best to keep up with their musical icon. 

Pull It Up had the crowd rocking to the vibes and Beres feeling the love jumps several feet off the stage like a Jack in the Box.

Suddenly, a small figure in red and black starts walking across the stage as a low-key voice announces Gladys Knight. I’m a bit nonplussed at this entrance, where is the build up to herald the arrival of an international artist?

Nevertheless, Gladys Knight, looking fabulously fit gort the crowd in the mood with her seminal classic If I were Your Woman and You’re the Best Thing. Riding solo without her beloved Pips, she did treat the crowd to a classic comedic performance from brother Bubba Knight who got his chance to show why the family has been able to stay current after all these years. 

You got the impression that the laughter and feigned embarrassment was not an act, but something real – showing the love of a sister for her older brother.  Previewing her new song, a re-working of I Who Have Nothing, Gladys definitely held her own with all who had come before and pleased the mainly Caribbean audience in the house who sang line for line when she hit the high notes of Neither One of Us and Midnight Train to Georgia as she made her exit.

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