Posted: 10-15-2013

Written by Rosie Renkow

On October 17, The Brooklyn Arts Center hosted the second-annual Rastoberfest, an evening of dancing and dining and some of the finest reggae music in Wilmington.

Jah Rick took to the stage at 8 p.m., performing a solo set with backing music by the phenomenal DJ Rusty. Jah Rick performed original numbers such as Tear Down Babylon and Wisdom to a delighted crowd. This is the second time Jah Rick has performed at Rastoberfest. Last year, he performed with this year’s headliners: DHIM. “I used to be in DHIM,” explains Jah Rick, “I’m not playing with them anymore because I’ve been going to school, so I’m on a different schedule right now, but they let me come open up the show.” This vibe encapsulated the mood of the night: love and friendship.

Following Jah Rick’s performance there was a brief interlude and concertgoers fueled up on classic Jamaican food provided by Jamaica’s Comfort Zone. Dishes such as Jerk Chicken and delicious Rasta Pasta provided the crowd with the energy they needed to dance the rest of the night away.

With the stage reset, Father Dale took over the room. Wearing a white fedora, he began his set with a beautiful instrumental. He danced and grooved as he played, making the performance a joy to watch. His energy was infectious, and soon everyone was dancing and whooping along with him. “I actually do lead singing for another band, and play the steel drum for The Give Thanks Band,” says Father Dale, “but this is a project of my own.” Father Dale was born in Trinidad and at fourteen had a hit record called Oh Lord My Lord with his band The Lunatics. It stayed number one on the chart for ten weeks. After finishing his first song, Dale announced to the crowd, “I’m gonna take you down to Trinidad,” and he broke into a tropical-feeling number that sang the praises of the sunny shores of his homeland. Father Dale finished his set with a beautiful cover of Bob Marley’s Three Little Birds, and soon after Tony Dread took the stage.

Dread gave a wonderful and engaging performance. Though he was solo onstage, he used every inch of space provided in a larger-than-life performance. His energetic set included an array of songs ranging from reggae classics to old R&B favorites, such as Otis Redding’s Sittin’ On The Dock Of The Bay.

Following Tony Dread, the much-anticipated reggae band Signal Fire took the stage to wild applause. Signal Fire played a number of songs off of their newly released record, including hits like The Jungle, Forever Loving Jah, Through The Storm, and Doomsday. The group invited a close friend, Debbie, to sing with them, and told the crowd that this was the first night their keyboardist, Carl, had performed with them. The love and appreciation the band showed for their friends and fans made the show feel intimate and meaningful.

Timi Irie & DHIM, the kings of the Wilmington reggae scene and some of the most dynamic performers in the region, gave the final performance of the night. Though they’ve been playing around Wilmington for some time, they performed with such exuberance and talent that the performance was as fresh as the first time they played the Port City. “I’ve seen DHIM so many times,” says longtime fan Sarah Willis, “and this show is one of the best I’ve seen.” The band played an abundance of funky, upbeat reggae hits including I Feel Good and Oh Me Oh My along with more mellow, introspective numbers like 96 Degrees In The Shade, a song that exemplified the band’s knack for crafting exquisitely tender harmonies. As the night came to an end, DHIM put their own spin on a classic reggae hit, Jimmy Cliff’s The Harder They Come.

It was the perfect ending to a night that set out to celebrate the sights, sounds, and tastes of the Caribbean.


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