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Central Park concert-goers sway to reggae rhythms

Posted: August 13, 2009 10:07 p.m.
Updated: August 14, 2009 4:55 a.m.

Urban Dread performs their set in front of thousands of concert-goers.

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An estimated 3,000 people packed Central Park for the latest Concerts in the Park series, dancing in the grass or munching picnic dinners as reggae music rose on the summer night.

“I love Bob Marley, so this is perfect,” said Rachel Richan after dancing with her 6-year-old cousin, Jared Rogers. “I dig it. I really like the reggae.”

It was Richan’s and the Rogers family’s first visit to the concerts.

“We love it. We have six kids here and they’re all over the place,” said John Rogers, of Newhall, who attended with his own kids and his nieces and nephews. “They’re probably eating funnel cake.”

The band at Saturday’s concert was Urban Dread, and member Jason Bourne said the band aimed to give the crowd a “positive and uplifting cultural experience.”

“It’s really uplifting music, meant to take you out of your doldrums,” said Bourne.

The Los Angeles-based cross-cultural group of musicians has played together as Urban Dread for 21 years.

Parents danced with children atop their shoulders while others spread blankets and enjoyed picnic dinners as the band began its rendition of the 1972 hit by The Staple Singers, “I’ll Take You There.”

The city’s arts and events supervisor, Mike Fleming, said one reason the concerts are a popular summer attraction is because “the price is right.”

“They’re free,” he said. “And it’s a good, positive environment where you can bring your family and kids. Parents listen in one field while kids are playing soccer on the next field.”

For Derreck Bernard, it was the perfect opportunity to don his dreadlock wig and colorful knitted reggae hat.

“It’s the only time I’m going to be able to wear it,” Bernard said. “It’s this or Halloween.”

The Bernard family tries to attend as many Saturday night Concerts in the Park as they can.

“No matter what, you always see people you know,” Bernard said, “and the kids have a blast.”



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