Lovers' rock king Beres Hammond once again proved he is one of the best live performers in Jamaica
, delivering his best at the ninth annual Groovin' In The Park Festival, held at Roy Wilkins Park in Queens, New York last Sunday. This was Hammond's fourth appearance there and he ensured fans got their money's worth.
Taking the stage after a scorching performance from Sizzla, Hammond was equal to the task and for more than an hour, mesmerised fans with hit songs like One Step Ahead, Can You Play Some More, Come Back Home, Step Aside, What One Dance Can Do, She Loves Me Now, Stay Longer, Putting Up Resistance, and No Disturb Sign.
Sizzla set the pace with his catalogue of classic roots songs that included Why Should I, Nothing In The System, Good Ways, and Woman I Need You. He upped the ante with Mash Dem Dung, African Woman and Just One of Those Days, before closing with Praise Ye Jah, which left patrons screaming for more.
The highly-anticipated appearance of veteran British broadcaster and sound system selector David Rodigan, did not disappoint. The BBC 1Xtra radio host took fans on a musical odyssey through ska, rocksteady, reggae and dancehall, reeling off standards like Millie Small's My Boy Lollipop, The Abyssinians' Sata Masa Gana, Ras Karbi's Jamaica I'll Never Leave You Again, Super Cat's Don Dada and Buju Banton's 'Driver A', which earned frenzied response from fans.
Midway his set, Rodigan was joined by Alphonso Castro who displayed his dancing skills on The Wailers ska hit, Love and Affection.
By the time Rodigan invited long time sparring partner Barry “Barry G” Gordon on stage for a brief sound clash, the atmosphere was electric. It was almost 35 years ago that they first engaged in a clash in the United States.
On that winter night in Brooklyn, Rodigan and Barry G captivated fans with original dubplates. They evoked similar response at Groovin' as they threw down dub plates like Golden Hen, Pumpkin Belly and Ring The Alarm by Tenor Saw; Trash and Ready from Super Cat and Leroy Smart's Without Love.
Powerhouse R&B singer and mother-to-be Keyshia Cole's delighted fans with Heaven Sent and Can't Raise A Man. Other strong performances came from Third World, who had fans jamming to Now That We Found Love, 96 Degrees in The Shade, Try Jah Love and their new Jr Gong-produced single Loving You is Easy.
Michael Bolton, the final performer, made his second appearance at Groovin In The Park, and lived up to his billing. He charmed fans with a litany of ballads; his soulful voice on Stand by Me, You Don't Know What It's Like, Sitting on the Dock of The Bay and How Am I Supposed to Live Without You had lovers wrapped in each other's arms.