Opening Bands: Marcia Griffiths, Ken Boothe, John Holt, Pat Kelly, Jimmy Riley, Lloyd Parks and We the People
Date: December 15, 2007
The Jamrock Vintage Reggae Fest was in town this weekend, and so was a powerful Nor’easter as well. I was contemplating whether or not I should trek down to New York City considering I hate to drive in the snow and was keeping a keen eye on the forecast. I made a very last minute decision to try and get down to the city and get back before the storm got really bad. The storm wasn’t really going to get bad until 11 or 12 at night so it was worth the risk. I’m glad I went down to the concert with my girlfriend because it was a lot of fun and saw a lot of terrific reggae legends perform. I sadly missed Toots and The Maytals though but there’s always next time.
Lloyd Parks and We The People Band were the backing band of the evening. They started to play around 8:30pm and didn’t stop playing. If I was them, my hands would have curled up into claws by 9:30 but maybe that’s why I’m not in a band. I was impressed that they knew all the songs to the various singers that came out. I loved how there really wasn’t any stoppage of play and each singer came out continuously. Lloyd Parks did three songs and sang one or two, and then the first featured reggae artist was Jimmy Riley.
I didn’t really know too much about Jimmy Riley and Pat Kelly, but I know various songs from Marcia Griffiths, John Holt, Ken Boothe and obviously Toots and the Maytals. Jimmy Riley did a few songs and did a great job of getting the audience dancing in their seats and on the sides. Pat Kelly came out and was wearing a tuxedo, and belted out quite a few numbers. I didn’t know any of his tracks but he definitely had more of a Motown style to his singing, and I loved that. At one point he was singing and trying to loosen up his bow tie; I guess it was irritating him? After that night, I definitely want to find music from Jimmy Riley, Pat Kelly and others since I really like their stuff.
After Pat Kelly was Ken Boothe. I knew a few songs from Ken Boothe but I wouldn’t say I was huge fan of his like I am for The Wailers, Desmond Dekker, Dennis Brown, The Tennors, etc….until Saturday night! Out of all the singers I saw, Ken Boothe was by far my favorite performer that night. He obviously had a more ska/rocksteady sound than the other singers. But his stage presence was great as well, and for being an old guy, he was dancing all over the stage! I’m almost 30 and don’t think I could dance that much. He did the UK hit “Everything I Own” and I loved hearing that song live.
After Ken Boothe was the Queen of Reggae, and former I-Three’s singer: Marcia Griffiths. Like the others, I knew a few songs from Marcia but I only knew 2 songs she played that evening: “Feel Like Jumping” and “Electric Boogie.” I totally forgot she did the Electric Slide song. She came out to do an encore with that song, and a few people came out on stage to do the dance with her. It was a funny sight to see people. People doing that dance with the actual singer singing it to them. I know if I was up there, I would have been messing everyone up. Although Marcia Griffiths was an excellent singer & performer, I wasn’t really into her performance as much as the others. Her stuff seemed too R&B to me.
Before John Holt came on stage, I got a text from my brother telling me the roads were getting bad out. Since I lived an hour or so above Manhattan, I knew I had to leave ASAP. Plus I parked in a garage was that closing at midnight. I wasn’t really happy that I was missing most of John Holt’s set and missing Toots’ set entirely. Toots and the Maytals were the reason why I even went to this concert but there is always next time. Toots plays in the NY area quite frequently so I decided to head home instead of risking my life (even more than I already did). I left through the beginning of John Holt’s set and I was sad that I missed his set as well. I’m glad I left when I did though because the roads were awful the further up north I went. I couldn’t even see the lines on the roads in my county. But I got home okay, lived another day to see Toots and the Maytals perform. If you ever get the chance to see some of these reggae singers, be sure to do so because after all these years, they still put on great sets!