Can't afford to fly to Jamaica? Well, you can still put a little reggae sun splash in your life on Saturday, when Third World, Dennis Brown, Gregory Isaacs, Lloyd Parks and We The People take over the Washington Convention Center in what shapes up as the roadshow of the month. It's being sponsored by Synergy, the company responsible for the annual Sunsplash Festival.
One of the featured acts, Third World, will be highlighting songs from its new album, "Sense of Purpose," which seems to continue a trend of Americanization -- read R & B influence -- that surfaced on the group's 1982 collaboration with Stevie Wonder, "Try Jah Love." Not so, says singer Bill (Bunny Rugs) Clark. "If you listen closely to the rhythm and to the bass line, it's still hard reggae." And, he adds, the Wonder connection was not all that helpful in getting the song air play, anyway. "All the American radio programmers, they couldn't accept this Jah business, they don't understand what Jah be."
Clark also says he's not worried about reggae's steady but slow growth after predictions 10 years ago that it would be The Next Big Thing. "If it grows for one year and after not for three, then I would be worried." The group did make one small concession, though: It recorded 20 songs for the new album, then pulled fans, friends and strangers into a New Jersey studio and let them pick the best 10. That's what people will be hearing, and, they hope, buying.