The only reggae showcase to celebrate Caribbean music during the 2019 Central Park Summerstage Concert Series headlined Elephant Man, Junior Reid, Raging Fyah and Estelle for a 40th anniversary celebration of VP Records and the storied legacy that distinguishes Vincent and Pat Chin for their trailblazing effort with promoting the Jamaican genre.
Needless to say the newly-refurbished Rumsey Playfield landscape looked beautiful. A tent stocked by historical biography temporarily occupied an extended position ideal for viewing. From late afternoon, reggae reigned glorious accolades to generations of artists prior to, during and after the international debut of Robert Nesta Marley, the avowed king.
The Fyah raged first and blazed brighter when Estelle walked onstage. Boasting a Grenadian heritage she kept the Spice Island flag in full view of the ethnically diverse crowd.
Estelle connected with everyone. As guests waved flags from the Virgin Islands, Guyana, Barbados and yes Jamaica – Estelle played to a familiar Caribbean playlist to deliver the sounds they wanted to hear. She was simply superlative. At one juncture she invited individuals for a dance-off. She personally chose willing dancers of every age, size and spectre.
After each performed their best dance moves, Estelle mimicked the Apollo Theater’s Amateur Night process by asking crowd approval for a winner. The segment alone trumps Reid’s entire set. She delivered. As for the pachyderm formerly known as The Energy God, his earned meagre approval despite an attempt to connect with the crowd by easing off the stage onto the field to “Signal Di Plane.” Stouter than previous outings here he was helped by a security team that enabled a faultless spill across a fenced barricade. He scored with retro dance moves as one of his slipped past his heel. The conspicuous fax paus must have bothered him because by the time he segued to “Pon Di River” he purposely lost the distraction.
Miss Pat beamed from an area across from the VIP seating area. Seemingly proud that a crowd of admirers acknowledged the contribution she made with her beloved husband, she greeted scores of well-wishers.
Members of the Chin family shared the joy of four decades and a multitude of reggae and soca artist that have benefited from their investment.
A deejay added to the revelry with Irie Jam radio’s Dub Master and Steely Bashment who both turned up the temperature by heightening the celebration.
Ethiopian visitors Merid and Desta expressed elation at seeing the diversity of the crowd and the billing celebrating VP Records.
Recently returned from Jamaica where she launched a children’s book titled “I Love Locks” a storybook nod to parents and youngsters wanting to boast advocacy for wearing natural and unprocessed hair, Desta celebrated her birthday from the VIP seats snacking on cupcakes.
Joining her in the celebration were her twin sons Mykel and Gebre – in senior year at Moorehouse College — Summerstage director of arts operations Josy Dussek Dunne and her daughter, reggae affiionada Sonia Chin, New Jersey resident Everald Hayles, New York Beacon’s entertainment editor Don Thomas, Summerstage venue manager Kahlil T. Goodwyn and numerous patrons to the event.