“It was always a highly attended, very successful evening,” says Dera Tompkins, a local music promoter and band manager who has long served as what she calls “the go-between” for the NPS and the musicians. “It is the one genre that has remained throughout the whole history of The Post nights.”
Tompkins, who also has consulted on the jazz, Latin and neo-soul nights, decided to emphasize groups with established followings. Her choices: Baltimore’s Strykers’ Posse, a female band that has been performing for nearly 30 years; Image Band, a calypso and soca group that Tompkins says is very strong in reggae; and the Archives, which she calls “the best and most respected reggae outfit in town.”
Reggae Night, Tompkins says, “is an opportunity for the artists to be on a big stage. A lot of them would never get to play for 3,000-plus people. It’s really kept our community together. It’s something that we all look forward to.”
“Carter Barron is an awesome venue, and the audiences are great,” says Ichelle Cole of Strykers’ Posse. Unlike some outdoor venues, Cole says, the amphitheater boasts excellent sound. “I’ve actually heard recordings of us performing there, and I thought it came out very well,” she says.
“Every venue draws a different audience,” says Image Band leader Loughton “Sarge” Sargeant. The amphitheater’s location in Rock Creek Park, he says, encourages “a family-style event. A lot of the other events that we play are more adult oriented. At Carter Barron, the kids can come and enjoy.”
Image Band plays shows — at Maryland wine festivals and in the Virgin Islands, where Sargeant and two of his cohorts grew up — that draw as many as 15,000 people. But for Strykers’ Posse, Carter Barron is about as big as it gets.
“That is the environment you want to be in,” Cole says. “When you have a large audience, you feed from the responses. And that makes for a good performance.”
Jenkins is a freelance writer.