Summerstage concerts end with triple reggae treat

Jamaicans showed out in Central Park to celebrate 50 years of independence recently.

Brandishing the black, green and gold colors of the island/nation, many streamed into the Rumsey Playfield location dressed to identify with the three, reggae acts billed for a Sunday afternoon free, concert.

Israel Vibration, Mighty Diamonds and Inner Circle promised and delivered a sterling three-set, reggae treat.

Prior to the appearance of the super-groups, Marcia Davis, a local, Brooklyn act, livened the crowd singing Ultra original recordings.

Her savvy, stage presence and nationalistic references to the sole, Caribbean booking of the season; the half-century accomplishment s of the island and the endearing, loyal crowd that seemed to imbue the pulse of the beat afforded an engaging, 45-minute set that easily pleased audiences that attended to hear the triumvirate.

For the final, free, concert of the summer season, Summerstage presented a wonderful medley of veteran entertainers who not only delighted with vintage offerings but tested new and current samplers.

With WKCR’s DJ Carter Van Pelt setting the stage for a glorious afternoon of entertainment, all three acts delighted patrons.

Earlier in the day, the radio personality prepped his audience during his radio show playing an avalanche of vintage recordings by Israel Vibrations.

He promoted the duo’s appearance with selections from vintage CD’s he said was sure to please.

Skelly (Cecil Spence) and Wiss (Lascelle Bulgin) started the party teasing with a bevy of not-so-memorable tracks.

They warmed with “Jailhouse Rock” and later blazed chanting “Rastafari Revelations.”

Fans appreciated the diversity which included tracks from “On The Rock” and the current “Free to Move.”

Up next, the Diamonds delivered pearls, gems and solid gold to entice a party atmosphere.

“Right Time,” “I Need A Roof,” moved musician Larry McDonald to smile, applaud and dance to the nostalgic tracks.

Visiting the Big Apple, four-time, festival winner Astronaut seemed to orbit out of this world hearing some of the ballads Inner Circle’s original lead singer Jacob Miller penned before his untimely death.

On a track popularized by Beres Hammond, Astronaut quietly, lip-synched a private concert to himself.

However, when “Sweat” poured, he chorused the lyrics to “Bad Boys.”

The group delivered a treat singing “We A Rockers,” “Discipline Child,” and “Murder She Wrote” among others.

Jamaica’s reggae, recording artist Survivalist, a visitor to New York, hailed the reception he witnessed for the reggae ambassadors and vowed to work toward an invitation next year on the same stage.

Paul “Jah Paul” Haughton from Brooklyn was equally optimistic.

“Next year, I am going to be up there,” Haughton said.

“All I need is 30 minutes and I will mash up di place,” Haughton explained to be a term implying he will have total control of the audience captivated by his artistry.

He plans to work to fine-tune his reggae performances with the hope he will be invited to provide a local concert contribution to the popular, free summer series.

Jamaican Students Benefit From Free, Back-To-School Book Distribution

More than 100 international volunteers will help deliver 100,000 books to 25,000 children in 80 schools across Jamaica’s 14 parishes.

Valued at approximately $670,000, the book distribution is sponsored by several local and international businesses that are prepared to hand out publications from Sept. 3.

“The future is bright, when you can read and write!” is the slogan of the three-week long book distribution, which kicks off with the delivery of free book bags to 471 four-year-old kindergarten children at Montego Bay Infant School on their first day of school.

From then on, distribution teams will visit more than 70 schools in towns, mountains and rural areas across the island to distribute free books and school supplies. Each of the children will receive their very own book bag containing a colorful 300-page workbook, two or more Scholastic reading books, a pack of crayons and a pencil.

“This is the highlight of the year for us. We invite all sponsors and supporters to personally come and hand out book bags to the children, because it is such a special experience,” Ragni Trotta, board member of The Palmyra Foundation said.

He told volunteers: “Just be prepared to tie numerous shoelaces, wipe a few tears and help tuck some shirts in while you have lots of fun!”

While this year’s books were shipped to the island, a local transportation company is providing its services and helping to bring distribution teams and books to the many schools.

“It is important to nurture our children at a tender age and provide them with books so that they can develop a love for reading and ‘story time,’” Noel Sloley Jr., VP of Sales and Marketing, at Jamaica TL said. His company he said “is proud to participate in the effort to help eradicate early childhood illiteracy in Jamaica.”

For the third year running, The Foundation has monitored results among the children who receive books through a year-end assessment measuring the children’s reading, writing, mathematics and science skills.

“In 2010, we measured an average success rate of 69 percent among 833 children prior to the children receiving books. In 2011, only one year after receiving books, the average results among 474 children at the same schools had increased to 88 percent,” Trotta explained. “This year, we measured an overall success rate of 86 percent among 1510 children in kindergarten who received books from the Foundation at the beginning of the school year.”

According to Trotta, the charity has observed improvements at every single school that has received books.

He said the distribution accounted for an average success rate of above 90 percent measured at four schools — Hampden Basic School, Providence Heights Infant School, Falmouth Infant School and Montego Bay Infant School.

“The results confirm that our book distributions are making an immediate and significant impact. Our charity’s qualitative goal is to maintain an 85 percent average success rate on the test among the children who receive books, so we are overjoyed by this year’s results.”

Feedback from her five- year- old students were positive.

They described the books to be “colorful, pretty, easy to read in and has stickers!”

Paired with supporting reading books from Scholastic Publishers, which has generously donated an additional 10,000 free books to this year’s distribution, the overall effect has proven to be immediate. “We support the wonderful work and are happy to help promote reading and literacy in Jamaica,” Nelson Hitchcock, senior vice president corporate marketing at Scholastic said.

While 5,030 book bags will be given to the charity’s target group of four and five year old school children, 720 primary school children from kindergarten to grade school will also benefit from book bags for the school year.

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