By Alexandra Simon
The reggae and rhythm and blues music festival, Groovin’ in the Park returns to Roy Wilkins Park this weekend on June 24. The annual concert is debuting a few new additions to the program, and is also prolonging its runtime for an extended show, said the concert’s co-founder.
“For the first time in the history of the festival, a reggae superstar, Damian Jr. Gong Marley, will bring the curtain down on the festival,” said Joan Lewis. “This comes the same year that we have a written commitment from the park’s department that the show will go until 9:30 pm, which is 90 minutes longer that our traditional 8 pm cut off time.”
And the festival will be a lot more interactive for its young attendees. Lewis says in partnership with the local community board, they have partnered to create a rare opportunity for fans to meet some of their favorite artists, and learn a few things about putting together a show.
“This year we are also working with the community board in Queens and our production team to put together a Groovin In The Park ‘behind the scenes tour, and this will happen on the day before the festival,” she said.
“Ten lucky teenagers will have an opportunity to get a behind the scenes tour of Groovin’ In The Park. They will get to talk with the artists, the production team and Groovin executives and see a live sound check with Kenny ‘Babyface’ Edmonds or Damian Marley. When it is all done, the youngsters will have a true understanding of the behind the scenes operation and other intricate details of what it takes to produce a world class festival of this kind.”
Lewis says after seven years in the running, the festival continues to be a favorite among members of the Caribbean Diaspora, particularly from Jamaica. And she says that her organizing team values the wants and needs of their fans — even when that means bringing back some fan favorites.
“Over the past seven years, we have presented a dazzling array of rhythm and blues and pop luminaries. We presented Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds the first year when the festival was Reggae Rhythms & Blues and fans had a blast and expressed that they would love to see him return to the Groovin stage for an encore performance,” she said. “When we made the announcement of his return a few weeks ago, fans were overjoyed.”
Performers this year include concert debutant Romain Virgo, Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds, Busy Signal, JC Lodge, Pam Hall, Macia Atiken, and Capleton.
“Groovin’ in the Park” at Roy Wilkins Park [177-01 Baisley Blvd. at 177th Street in St. Albans, (347) 980-2252 www.groovininthepark.com]. June 24, noon–9 pm. $70-270.