Wed | Dec 6, 2023

Parks does it all for 44th anniversary show

Published:Sunday | January 6, 2019 | 12:00 AMKimberly Small/Gleaner Writer
Tinga Stewart gave the audience a performance they loved.
Half Pint in performance.
Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport Olivia Babsy Grange heaps praises upon LLoyd Parks as the band celebrates over four decades in the music business.
Big Youth feeling the beat during his performance.
Lieutenant Stitchie did not miss a beat in his showmanship at Lloyd Parks and We The People Band’s 44th anniversary celebration.
Gem Myers in performance at Lloyd Parks and We The People Band’s 44th anniversary celebration.

Celebrating 44 years in the music business, Lloyd Parks and We The People Band presented a formidable showcase at Mas Camp last Saturday night. Featuring some of Jamaica's pioneering performers, Parks (affectionately referred by most as 'Lydie'), took on all major roles, pulling on all the knowledge and power gained over his extensive career. The versatile band was unwavering as they did what they do best - support the wide-ranging line-up of stars.

But for those who were keen enough to be watching, the real spectacle stood behind the constellation of roots rock, reggae, cabaret and dancehall performers. Watching Lydie nimbly work with his burnt-orange guitar, it's surprising that his contribution to the event was much more intricate than playing the music.

Not only did he handpick the line-up, he also chose all the songs performed by the stalwarts he persuade to join the celebration. In addition to leading the band with his bass in hand, he was also the show's producer - organising the stage, lighting and promotions along with all other stresses and necessaries that come with planning a major live event was all his responsibility.

After the titular band opened the stage with a few of their own songs (playing a well-received version of Originally), they stayed to support everyone else.

Peter Austin of The Claren-donians followed with classics like Rudie Bam Bam and You Can't Be Happy.

For Gem Myers, Lydie chose Shirley & Company's Shame, Shame, Shame and Jean Knight's Mr Big Stuff. Not surprisingly, Myers also sang a dramatic and technically flawless rendition of the classic Broadway hit from Dreamgirls, And I'm Tell You I'm Not Going.

Other performers included Rising Stars alumnus Noddy Virtue, George Nooks, Judy Mowatt and Tinga Stewart. Stewart was particularly sensational, show-casing a range, mingling Festival classics like Play Di Music and Nuh Weh Nuh Betta Dan Yaad with soulful love songs like Just My Imagination and Cover Me. The Festival winner had the crowd tickled with a scintillating performance of How Can You Mend A Broken Heart, before delighting the audience further with his endearing farewell. "Mi gone, mi gone, mi gone lef' yuh," he exclaimed as he exited to whoops and cheers.

Then there was Little John, who brought some dancehall vibe into the mix. Lydie's title changed for a moment, from bandleader to 'fada juggler' to accommodate Little John's effervescent demonstration, challenging Vybz Kartel's clout with a performance of his 1985 hit Clarks Booty.

The night carried on with appearances by Half Pint, Horace Andy, U-Roy, The Mighty Diamonds, Lieutenant Stitchie, Pinchers, Johnny Clarke and Luciano.

All in all, it was a concert experience that served as a testament of expert musicianship, as well as a demonstration of the respect earned and affection gained by the multifaceted bandleader. Perhaps next year they can celebrate with the focus on the current band members and push themselves further into spotlight.