The Washington, D.C., Reggae Festival, reviewed in yesterday's Style section, was broadcast by WPFW-FM but was sponsored by The Washington, D.C., Reggae Festival Inc.
Sunshine. A splash of greenery. Lovely, eerie music. Malcolm X Park may not be Montego Bay but yesterday afternoon it provided Washingtonians with the next best thing to a Caribbean idyll.
It was the first Washington, D.C., Reggae Festival, held under the auspices of WPFW-FM, featuring four area bands.
First up was Spliff, performing without its leader, Kit Willis, who was in the hospital recuperating from surgery. Spliff's songs were simple and sweet, terse lovers' rock 'n' roll that made good use of rough-and-tumble vocal harmonies and tuneful keyboards. The line "never been so much fun in a long while" was no empty boast.
Baltimore's Determination followed Spliff with a much, much slicker set. Determination played all-too-obvious covers with embarrassing literalness. In fact, all that separated this bunch from the cocktail lounge was mother-in-law jokes. Unctuous stage patter certainly didn't help the group's credibility.
Longtime D.C. resident "Honey Boy" Martin and his group the Unconquered People livened up the proceedings with a sinuous, sensuous show. The long, free-wheeling Football Connection toast by disc jockey "Roots" was a complete tour de force.
The Mighty Invaders closed the proceedings with tasteful, melodic, gospel-tinged selections -- very traditional yet very moving.