If you are looking for some fun, you shouldn't
have to look far. There are many places to go in New York to hear
the latest reggae, dancehall, Jamaican hip-hop; eat curry goat,
jerk chicken and mackerel, run-down, Jesus Christ! and drink rum
punch, magnum, tan-pon-it-long!, sorrel. Lawd a mercy, Jamaica
dey right yah so! Due to the extensive amount of Jamaican influence
in New York, I will give you a little synopsis of what can be
enjoyed in each area noted.
Culture - Every year the Jamaica Dance Theatre
comes to New York, to perform at Brooklyn College or The Brooklyn
Academy of Music. I have watched them perform more than once and
it is something to be seen. Through various private organizations,
other Jamaican plays come to New York several times throughout
the year. They are seen at campus sites such as: Brooklyn College,
Queens College and Lehman College in the Bronx. To give example,
Oliver Samuels and his theater performers come at least twice
a year, usually around Mother's Day and during September. His
plays also would be featured at the three venues listed. Jamaican
pantomine also comes usually once a year. New York has "Reggae
Caribfest" annually, featuring a host of Jamaican singers,
dj's and also American artists. Held at Sunken Meadows, (formally
Downing Stadium), this concert is over 5 years old. In addition,
during Jamaica's Independence each year, the Jamaican consulate
devotes a week of celebration featuring speakers and featured
artwork of various artists as well as entertainment. The Jamaica
Tourist Board also hosts a series of events during this week.
For Jamaican Gospel fans, the Grace Thrillers
choir has performed here on gospel boat rides, and at Brooklyn
College. Other Jamaican artists such as Papa San and Carlene Davis
come periodically as well.
Music - Now haul and pull up my selector. Or
as Sizzla says, "Faward, Faward, pull up dat!" This
is my forte. I don't get to take advantage of some of these events
anymore but when it comes to my reggae artists, mi nuh play! If
you are into seeing entertainers, such as Beres Hammond, Sanchez,
Luciano, Burning Spear and Damian Marley, just to name a few,
you will not be disappointed, they give 150% to every performance.
Starting with the free stuff: During the Summer
- Central Park in Manhattan, the "Summer Stage" at Rumsey
Playfield features at least one reggae artist during the concert
series. Over the last few years, it has been Beres Hammond and
Freddie McGregor. In Brooklyn, Prospect Park has free annual events
as well, featuring Jamaican artists and other artists from the
Caribbean. This past August, Damian Marley along with soca frenzy
artists such as Kevin Little, Allison Hinds, etc. performed for
a crowd of over 5,000 people. This concert had major sponsorship
by the Jamaica Tourist Board.
In regards to regular concerts, Beres Hammond,
Luciano, and Burning Spear come to New York at least once a year.
They showcase at various locales such as: Hammerstein Ballroom,
Madison Square Garden Theatre, Brooklyn Academy of Music, and
Brooklyn College. Sanchez, (a my bway dat!) comes at least 3-4
times a year. I have seen him perform at major venues and also
local clubs. For the culture lovers, Burning Spear, The Marley
Clan, Capleton, Morgan Heritage or newer artists such as Warrior
King, Junior Kelly and Bushman have also performed in New York.
Club S.O.B. (Sounds of Brazil) on Varick Street in Manhattan has
featured many of these artists. For the fans of the classics,
now referred to as "old skool" many artists such as:
Toots Hibbert, Dobbie Dobson, Phyllis Dillon and the like, headline
memory lane events accompanied by early selectors such as Winston
Blake and Merritone Sounds.
When it comes to Dancehall, almost all of the
dancehall artists, famous and upcoming, have performed here. Among
them: Beenie Man, Yellowman, Elephant Man, Cobra, Lexus, Sean
Paul, TOK, Spragga Benz, Lady Saw, Bounty Killa, just to name
a few. Many of them also perform at local clubs. I will break
down a few clubs based on longevity, ambiance and wicked, wicked,
dj's spinning the turntables.
Manhattan - Club Pulse, It's been around well
over 5 years. It has a nice after work Caribbean crowd, nice ambiance
and in house dj's change periodically. Friday and Saturday are
the main nights. Last time I checked it was DJ Chris the dub master,
from the Irie-Fm station. He's a crisp dj!
The Shadow - Also been around over 5 years.
It is bi-level, with two dance floors on the first level and a
lounge on the second floor playing soothing music. The main floor
plays a mixture of R& B and Hip-Hop and the little dance floor
is devoted to Reggae. Each time I went, they have had different
dj's but the reggae music always left me feeling like all my troubles
were over. It is that good! Crowd is 25 & over, well behaved
except that the men follow you around a lot. Keep the ones who
can dance and bring a fly swatter for the rest.
Long Island - Club/Restaurant Nakisaki and its
offspring Jamroc. Jamroc was originally designated for the 30
and over crowd. I don't think that really applies anymore but
they often feature reggae artists, live stage shows, comedy showcases
and dj competitions. One very popular English veteran dj - David
Rodigan comes at least once a year to battle various killer sounds
such as Tony Matterhorn. Nice ambiance and music by the resident
dj is alright. During the day and evening, Nakisaki features Chinese/Jamaican
cuisine at reasonable prices and has a cozy and elegant atmosphere.
The food is tasty.
Queens - The Q club off of Liberty and Archer
Ave. - This club is over 10 years old. Once dubbed one of the
best clubs in New York, by me, it has changed somewhat. It no
longer has the original owners and now caters to the local youthful
crowd. It is bi-level, featuring various selectors on a week to
week basis and often features various artists. I have seen many
stage shows here. Nice ambiance. However, the current crowd is
very young and casual.
Club Amazura - Off of Merrick Blvd. Although
I haven't heard anything recently regarding this club, it is huge!
It is also nicely set up with big screens, a big stage and at
least two bars. I really liked this place. I have also seen artists
such as Junior Kelly and Frankie Sly perform here.
Brooklyn - Caribbean City on Empire Blvd. This
club has undergone a few name changes through the years. It has
been around over 15 years. It has been Caribbean City for over
5 years. It features a lot of various selectors, some of them
veterans, i.e. dj Carlton and dj Paul, (wicked star!) Currently
it has Sunday night venues with local radio station bigwigs, Bobby
Konders and Jabba. Personally, Saturday night was a favorite because
the crowd was more mixed and I usually had to work on Monday.
The music is always good and the crowd is always hype! Age range
23 and over.
Bronx - Famous for a lot of little places. Some
common places to go, were Act III, this club is over 15 years
old. It has also featured a lot of selectors. I haven't been there
in years so I am not sure what it is like now.
New Rochelle - Club Caribe - Home of the Ms.
Jamaica Beauty Pageant. It features music on Friday and Saturday
nights. It is also bi-level, has a beautiful ambiance but gets
too crowded. Features a large Bronx crowd also. Music is pretty
good and many stage shows are held here as well.
Although, I didn't mention security, all of these clubs have pretty
good security or else they wouldn't be listed. I guess you can
tell I love music. Let it be known that I have seen almost every
artist listed here perform at least once. Except for Mr. Kevin
Jackson aka Sanchez, who I have seen at least 10 times. What can
I say, we all have a weakness. (P.S. Mr. Murphy pass on the word,
he's "living up, living up" in your neck of the woods
now.) Anyway, you know what they say about New Yorkers, we know
how to party. Bear in mind this is only a small microcosm of what
is out there in the big city. The city that never sleeps. Faward,
Faward, Pull up dat!!
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