Live Concert Photography: BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival 2017: Chronixx with Chop and Quench and Laolu at Prospect Park 7/8/17
Although it’s gone through a couple of different names, the BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival is one of the oldest, summer-long outdoor concert and performance series in New York, started back in 1979. And from its first performance, the Festival’s mission has been to bring Brooklyn residents — and those, who love and enjoy all things Brooklyn — together in a safe, harmonious setting to enjoy and celebrate the vibrant cultures that made Brooklyn one of the most diverse places in the entire world. In fact, as the organizers strongly emphasize, “We believe it is especially important to use artistic platforms to reaffirm the very basis of what Brooklyn and America is — a welcoming, supercollider of ideas and cultures, informing and enriching each other. ”
Throughout the Festival’s history, the Prospect Park Bandshell has hosted both established and emerging artists across a large and adventurous array of styles and genres including American roots music, world music, classical, jazz, pop, alt-rock, indie rock and hip hop among others, and as a result the Bandshell can claim an impressive and lengthy list of artists have played on its stage, including Dr. John, Maceo Parker, They Might Be Giants, The Neville Brothers, Talib Kweli, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, Beck, Hugh Maskela, Joan Armatrading, Willie Nelson, Chaka Khan, Angelique Kidjo, Seun Kuti, Mavis Staples, Marco Benevento and countless others. They’ve also hosted an equally adventurous array of cultural and artists performances including dance recitals, large scale film showings and more. And much like its ambitious citywide counterpart, SummerStage, BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival has an impressive lineup featuring Lake Street Dive, Alice Smith, Bilal, The Shins, Lisa Loeb, Yeasayer, Poliça, Cymbals Eat Guitars, Pharaoh Sanders, Brooklyn Raga Massive, JOVM Mainstays The Soul Rebels, Lila Downs, Orkesta Mendoza, Musiq Soulchild, Robert Randolph and The Family Band, Eric Krasno, Joan as Policewoman, Conor Oberst, Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, Amadou and Mariam, Yossou N’Dour and others.
Earlier this month, BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn Festival! hosted and incredible show featuring Jamaica’s beloved and up-and-coming reggae star Chronixx, New York-based Afrobeat All-Star band Chop and Quench, featuring members of the cast and house band of the Tony Award-winning Broadway bio-musical on Afrobeat pioneer and godfather Fela Kuti, FELA! The Musical and the Nigerian-born musician and activist Laolu with his backing band Afromystics. Check out photos from arguably one of the most rowdiest, sweatiest, rowdiest , exuberant and fun-loving BRIC Celebrate Brooklyn! Festival shows at Prospect Park I’ve seen at Prospect Park below.
Born Jamar McNaughton, Jr. and best known by Chronixx, the Jamaican-born and-based reggae artist is the son of Jamar McNaughton, Sr., a well-regarded reggae artist best known as Chronicle. Naughton, Jr. wrote his first song “Rice Grain,” when he was 5 and the elder Naughton encouraged and nurtured his son’s musical aspirations; in fact, the younger Naughton was once known as Little Chronicle, before changing his stage name. However, the younger Naughton’s musical career began in earnest when he was 11, when he recorded an unreleased Gospel track with producer Danny Browne before going on to provide backing vocals and harmonies for Lutan Fyah. By the time, he was 14, Chronixx quickly developed a reputation as a production, creating rhythms and beats used by artists such as Konshens and for Ice Box Records; however, when his brother died in 2009, Chronixx wrote to Zincfence Records‘ Romaine “Teflon” Arnett, who later signed him.
Along with artists like Dre Island, Jah Bouks, Jah9, Protoje, Kelissa, Jesse Royal, Keznamdi, and Kabaka Pyramid, Chronixx is considered part of a growing “reggae revival” movement — and much like the work of Peter Tosh, Bob Marley and others, Chronixx’s material manages to be political, intimate and sweetly romantic, as lyrically his material focuses on messages of peace, love and resiliency. With significant airplay in Jamaica, along with a set at Reggae Sumfest, and Tracks and Records nightclub/restaurant set, which was attended by Usain Bolt, and a appearance on the Major Lazer-curated mixtape Start a Fire, Naughton saw a rapidly growing profile nationally.
Building upon a growing profile, 2013 was a big year as Chronixx released his two biggest singles to date, “Smile Jamaica” and “Here Comes Trouble,” which he promptly followed with a UK tour, including a BBC1 Xtra show in Leeds, UK and a Stateside tour with his backing band Zincfence Redemption. He also travelled to Kenya, where he has a huge fanbase as a Peace Ambassador during the country’s general election, and performed at the Tuka Rada Peace Concert in Nairobi. Later that year, he performed at Reggae Sumfest in front of a crowd of almost 10,000.
2014’s Dread & Terrible EP topped the Billboard Top Reggae charts within the first few weeks of its release, and with an appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon and a SummerStage Rumsey Playfield set, the EP saw increasing sales, at point earning a number 2 position on the Digital Reggae Singles chart, according to Nielsen SoundScan and returned to the number one spot on the Top Reggae Albums Chart; in fact, by March 2015, the EP had spent 42 consecutive weeks in the top 10 of the Top Reggae Albums chart.
Chronixx’s two hour set was a career-to-date spanning set that had the Prospect Park Bandshell audience singing and dancing around in a way that I hadn’t seen at the Bandshell.
The New York-based Afrobeat collective Chop and Quench consists of a handful of members of the Tony Award-winning Broadway musical FELA! The Musical and its Tony Award-nominated star Sahr Ngaujah performing the music of the award-winning musical and the work of its namesake Fela Kuti. And while developing a reputation as one of this city’s sweatiest and rowdiest Afrobeat acts in town, the members of Chop and Quench have played alongside Angelique Kidjo and Fela Kuti’s eldest son, Femi.
Opening the night was LAOLU, a Nigerian-born artist, musician and activist, who started the night with a multi-faceted performance that first involved a set of music with his backing band Afromysterics before engaging in the sacred art of the ori ritual (body-painting); in fact, his work as a body-painter was featured in Beyonce‘s acclaimed Lemonade visual album.