Reggae on the Park continues to evolve

 Local reggae acts Mr King and Isasha perform live at Reggae on the Park at Steel Restaurant and Lounge in South Park, San Fernando. -
Local reggae acts Mr King and Isasha perform live at Reggae on the Park at Steel Restaurant and Lounge in South Park, San Fernando. -

Reggae on the Park has rejuvenated a musical era that was once dormant – a time known as "when dance was nice."

Such was the sentiment shared by Aneil "Balkie" Balkaran, organiser of the popular weekly reggae-Sunday event at Steel Restaurant and Lounge in South Park Mall, Tarouba, San Fernando.

Reggae on the Park celebrates its second anniversary in June, and over the past 23 months, has served as a musical oasis for hundreds of genre lovers seeking a relaxing weekend wind-down, or a subtle mood-setter for the week ahead.

From inception, Reggae on the Park was intended to create a platform where reggae lovers as well as DJs/selectors and artistes could get together and enjoy an evening of conscious music.

At the first session on June 26, 2022, organisers were hoping to attract at least 75-100 people. However, an estimated 175 people turned up, and it has since grown to 400-plus patrons on a weekly basis.

Since it started, admission has been free.

DJ Scorpion International, a highly requested selector at Reggae on the Park. -

“I have seen people gravitating towards reggae Sundays more and more every week. People of different age groups, ethnicities social and financial status…so it makes me proud to know I have rejuvenated a musical era that was once dormant," Balkaran said.

He said the main intention was not for business but to have a place of common ground where music can "soothe and heal."

“I saw strangers through time become friends. I have seen DJs from the past who were once enemies now side by side on one stage, so my intended purpose has been derived. I now find joy seeing the smiles on people's faces as they may sing or dance the night away,” Balkie added.

Inspiration, he said, also came from hearing the music being produced and played nowadays, whose contents, morals and lyrics are more brazen and vulgar.

Balkie believes this type of music is, whether directly or indirectly, having an impact on the crime-ridden society.

Reggae on the Park uses innovative themes on a weekly basis to set a tone for each Sunday set: tributes to mothers for Mother's Day, vinyl night (45s and records only), dubplate exhibitions and surprise performances from multiple Jamaican and Trinidadian reggae artistes, among other welcome additions, keeping them coming.

In May, Jamaican reggae stars Bushman (Dwight Duncan) and Determine (Rohan Bennett) paid a surprise visit to Steel and delivered pop-up performances to a tongue-wagging audience. This has become a satisfying norm.

Seasoned singers such as King Kong, Norris Man, Isasha and Prophet Benjamin are just a few of an array of artistes who have passed through Reggae on the Park.

Reggae on the Park also allows younger and lesser known DJs an opportunity to showcase their talent, with segments called From Youths to Roots.

Additionally, famed DJ Scorpion International, who continues to be one of the most respected sounds in TT, adds a unique flair to the weekly event with his undying style of using compact discs (CDs) to deliver energetic conscious sets.

The experienced DJ Mello is also a consistent and well-received musical feature while Brothers in Sound is one of the event's latest additions to the cast of DJs.

DJ Merry Perry on the turntables during Reggae on the Park's vinyl night at Steel Restaurant and Lounge in South Park, San Fernando. Looking on is equally experienced DJ Riot. -

“I decided to create this edition so to capture the youths of society to be more involved in a musical era that has more positivity in it, as well as drafting young upcoming DJs, where this platform permits them to show the world that they know where they are but didn’t forget where they came from, and that's from foundation, so they came out and represent their versatility in reggae and maxi-dub (80s-90s) era.”

Reggae on the Park's second anniversary will be celebrated on July 7. Details are yet to come.

Looking back on the past two years, organisers are pleased with what Reggae on the Park has evolved into.

“This is not our event, this is an event for the people. They show up religiously every Sunday and support the culture, support the DJs who can now call this home.

“We have done appreciation ceremonies in the past recognising the godfathers of the industry, and going forward, I want to continue to do so. This platform must remain an open one for upcoming artists and DJs as well as continued appreciation ceremonies. One such event will be on July 7.”


"Reggae on the Park continues to evolve"

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