Groovin' changes ahead - As annual NY show seeks to adjust start time
Discussions are under way between the organisers of the annual Groovin' in the Park concert and the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation to have a time extension for this year's staging.
In a recent interview with The Gleaner, CEO of Groovin', Christopher Roberts, said that they are hoping to get a 90-minute extension for the concert that attracted little over 20,000 patrons last year. This, he hopes, will prevent a repeat of last year's incident with dancehall artiste Busy Signal.
Thousands of fans came out to the Roy Wilkins Park in Queens, to see the entertainer, who was performing for the first time in the United States. However, approximately 20 minutes into what should have been a 50-minute set, Busy's microphone was turned off, signalling an abrupt end to his performance. The event organisers, as well as members of the New York Police Department (NYPD), were given a verbal beatdown by members of the audience, as they demanded the return of the entertainer to the stage.
Stage management issues
Busy Signal had only got a chance to warm up with songs such as Bedroom Bully, Step Out, Nah Go A Jail Again, Unknown Number, and One More Night.
"We had some stage management issues, so we will be having at least four persons to manage the stage. We really want things to run in a timely fashion. Unofficially, we are usually given a one-hour grace period, but that was not the case last year. We got off to a late start, so time was really against us. While members of the audience may think that Busy's set was sabotaged because of his past run-ins with the law, that was certainly not the issue ... it was a time factor," he said.
Roberts says that he is hoping to get the concert at a later time than its usual 1 p.m., slot, as that time is "too early, as most persons come out later in the afternoon. I think it is quite unreasonable to end a show in the summer at sunset, which is 8:30 p.m. The show has been running incident-free since its inception seven years ago, so we are speaking with the Parks Department to see what can be done as it relates to a time adjustment," he said.
Also, Roberts says, "we will be publishing and advertising the times that each entertainer will take centerstage. This way, patrons will know exactly when their favourite act will be on. We are hoping for a favourable response from the Parks Department, as this way, the patrons will miss less. We are not asking to go beyond 10 p.m., but just to start later and end later," he added.
While no confirmed acts have yet been announced for this year's staging of the concert slated for the last Sunday in June, the organisers promise a stellar lineup consisting of some of reggae's and R&B's finest acts.
According to Roberts, Groovin' in the Park has, over the years, contributed significantly towards the economic growth in the Queens, New York, community, and in addition to the hotels and restaurants, many small entities benefit financially from the concert.
"I employ at least 300 staff for the event, but there are persons like the barbers and hairdressers who work tirelessly on the days leading up to the concert. There are many economic benefits," he said.