This is the season for outdoor music festivals, and one of Fairfax's stalwarts is Friday Night Live!, the weekly weekend-welcoming, free concert series in Herndon. This is its 12th year, and the Herndon Dulles Chamber of Commerce, which sponsors the concerts, figures that more than 200,000 fans have attended.
This year's series started this month and runs through Aug. 25, when Jah Works, an area reggae band, is scheduled to perform. Tonight another reggae band, Black Sheep, will play, though the series also includes cover bands, blues artists, rockers and a Jimmy Buffett tribute act. The lineup, plus additional information, is available at http:/
Reggae music is a great soundtrack for an open-air party. The laid-back yet rhythmic sound has a strong following in the region thanks to bands such as Black Sheep, which has carried the torch for more than 20 years. The five-member group brings American musical accents and innovative harmonies to the Jamaican foundation of reggae rhythms and even pushes into jazz and rhythm and blues on some of its tunes.
Black Sheep, which has won several awards from the Washington Area Music Association, has the staying and playing power to get a party started and keep it going. True to the roots of reggae, the group's lyrics have a consciousness-raising spirit, unafraid to confront issues such as urban violence, drugs and racial discord. Simultaneously, the catchy dancehall style provides a stimulus for swaying or just chillin' on a picnic blanket.
The neighborly vibe is extended by the very nature of the series, presented by the chamber as a safe, family-friendly event for the whole community. Volunteer marshals, provided by the Herndon Optimists Club, keep things running smoothly. Tips from beverage sales will be donated to school programs.
Friday Night Live! will take a break next week to make room for the Herndon Festival and will resume June 9 with a mix of party covers and originals from Fighting Gravity and Everyone but Pete. There will be an extra show July 4 featuring area bands Warehouse and ThatGuy and a fireworks show.
How can you not love an event with "Live!" in its title?
-- MARIANNE MEYER
The Town Green is behind the Municipal Center at 777 Lynn St. in downtown Herndon, adjacent to the Washington and Old Dominion trail and the town library. Alcoholic beverages may not be brought into the event, though alcohol, other beverages and food will be sold. The event hotline is 703-481-6133.
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