Barrington Levy at Summerstage

On Sunday, Ray, Sarah and I headed over to Central Park Summerstage to see the legendary Barrington Levy…this year’s edition of the annual Pickabar Trip to a Dancehall show ;). I have to say, I had an all around amazing day from start to finish.

We got there just a bit after 3:00, just about the time when the rain was starting. It was a nasty muggy day, like the 20 or so days before it, so were delighted once the drops finally started to fall. We’d rushed over to make sure we got in before summerstage reached capacity, but in the end the rain chased enough folks home so that that never became an issue.

Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra At Central Park Summerstage

Tokyo Ska Paradise Orchestra (or here if you don’t speak japanese) opened the show while the rain was still coming down. They played slightly enjoyable although thoroughly generic ska, but the rain and the crowd made the experience generally enjoyable. Highlights of their set included a lightning strike that appeared to hit the top of the stage, and seeing asian dudes in wet suits. Skapara (yeah, i’m hip to their nickname daddy-o) are definitely good musicians, and they put a lot of energy into their shows, but it really never veered away from generic fun ska. Maybe Ray’s jaded outlook spread to me…

Ray and I at the Barrington Levy Show

…actually, now that I think of it the highlight of the show was watching members of the crowd who had probably never heard a ska band tweaking their dancehall moves and having a good time skanking it up in the rain.

barrington levy sky

About half way through their set the sun broke through the crowds, although that didn’t stop the rain or the lightning. I actually spent a great deal of the set drooling over their instruments…a gibson with some sort of tan quilted top, a strat that was beat up in all the right ways, and an electric standup bass that looked like a lot of fun. Yes Sarah, it was a pink trombone.

Pickabar friend Kahlil was the MC for the event, but he didn’t seem to hear my screaming from out in the crowd. We did talk after the show, and hopefully we’ll be getting together soon.

While I’m on a tangent, how about another? Despite the message of most of the music I used to listen to in high school, the daily newspaper, and cable news, I have to say people are generally pretty cool. A small amount of the crowd headed for the hills with each crack of thunder, and some folks seemed put off by the threat to their haircuts or outfits, but they were in the minority. Mostly the multicultural crowd danced, enjoyed being wet, and had a great time. ugh…I’m sounding like a hippy. Anyway…

By the time Skapara left the stage everyone was double ready for the star of the show. Even the weather, which cleared up just before his set started.

Barrington Levy At Central Park Summerstage

Barrington (don’t worry, we’re tight like that) did not disappoint treating the crowd to all of the hits you’d expect, nearly sending our little group into hysterics with “Here I Come”. There was of course the mandatory encore, but in this case the crowd really was clamoring for more. After performing a two or three song encore, the summerstage staff started to get nervous (weather? powerful neighbors?) and Mr. Levy left the stage grudgingly. The crowd sauntered off just as the rain started to pick up again, and our day was over.

Or se we thought. On the way back home we passed by the bandshell, near the spot where drum circles usually form. A crowd of folks, at least some of whom had also just left the show, were huddled under the bandshell as the rain really started to pour. We joined them, shimmying as the drummers jammed with the drops.

People dancing in the rain near the Central Park Bandshell

A few minutes later, someone decided to jump out into the rain and dance…and a few minutes after that there was a full on dance party in the rain. There was a breakdancer, an african dancer, a hippy chick, an idiot desperately looking for attention and various others who were already to wet to care.

People dancing in the Central Park Bandshell

Yes, that includes your humble host. After half an hour or so we picked up our soggy belongings and headed home.

Me dancing in the rain

Not feeling like cooking after dancing and dripping all day, we decided to stop by Josie’s (a local veggie eatery). We were so wet at that point that we just stood in the monsoon while restaurant goers and passersby wondered what the heck was wrong with us. Unfortunately, it stopped raining as we were walking home which also pretty much killed the fun of being dripping wet.

But it didn’t kill the fun of the day. I know I keep using that word, but I really can’t remember the last time I had so much fun in one day. Man, I’m smiling just thinking back to it!