|Last Friday evening (July 20), the Wolf Trap hosted a night of Caribbean
music, featuring the Baha Men, Maxi Priest, and reggae legend Gregory Isaacs.
The Baha Men started the evening off with their popular style of junkanoo, a
Caribbean-originating form of music that has a similar energy and sound to
soca. Of course, the Baha Men hit it big in America last year with their
love-it-or-hate-it hit "Who Let the Dogs Out?" but popularity is nothing new
to them: they have five platinum records in Japan.
Surprisingly, even with their extreme popularity in the States, the crowd was
pretty lukewarm to their performance... until "Who Let the Dogs Out?," that
is. The three vocalists are all relatively new to the group and range in age
between 19 and 22, but their stage presence makes them seem much older.
Maxi Priest's set was a nice blend of reggae and R&B and a mixture of
high-energy tunes and slow ballads. He covered tracks from early in his
career like "Close to You" to more recent ones like "Man With the Fun." Maxi
Priest is one of those guys that is hit-or-miss on his records, but his live
shows are always great because of the energy and passion he puts into his
Closing the night out was the "Cool Ruler" himself, Mr. Gregory Isaacs.
Considering how many albums Isaacs has released in his 30+ year career, his
struggles with various hard drugs, and his age, he managed to put on an
excellent show. He performed a straight string of hits with no breaks,
including, of course, "Night Nurse." He even threw a little "Sweat" and "Sp
onji Reggae" in for good measure. His stage presence was defined by his
nickname, as he seemed absolutely at peace with everything as he ran through
his set of lover's rock classics. It was a great performance by a living
legend in reggae that topped off a solid evening.
Though Wolf Trap didn't host an official reggae festival this summer, as they
have in the past, this event made up for it, with especially solid
performances by both Maxi Priest and Gregory Isaacs. Reggae always seems to
do very well at the Wolf Trap, and it's a shame that they don't emphasize it
a little more in their summer schedule. Hopefully shows such as this will
help encourage the return of all-day reggae festivals to the park.
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