I had the pleasure of attending the Brooklyn Music Festival that was held at Governors Island in New York City. I had to take the ferry and it was my first time experiencing life on the water and I might say although I did not like the rocking of the boat it was a beautiful sight to see. I was able to spot the Statue of Liberty on my way across and other boats passing by. I could see the Manhattan Bridge as well as the tall buildings. I could see everything that made people fall in love with New York. When I reached my destination at Governors Island, I was greeted by the loud music, tents that smelled of delicious foods, contained clothing, art, and other materials. The team that helped put this event together(Kristen Irene and Jermaine Greaves) made sure not only that the artists were accommodated but also the people that came to enjoy the festival.
One word that I would use to describe this event would be its “diversity”. Not only did I meet people from different cultures, but the music genre was diverse as well. The festival opened up my perspective on music as I experienced listening to mixed genres that I have never heard before as well as expanding my horizon out of the normal music I would listen to.
It was such an amazing experience to be surrounded by great artistic people, sharing laughs and great vibes. People would bring their sheets and blankets, lay it on the grass and watch artists showcase their talents. This festival was not only for watching and enjoying music but there were also areas that were interactive such as “The Living Galley” an area at the festival that allowed visitors to not only come and watch live paintings but add a piece of themselves to the artwork as well. I observed children add their artwork to the long piece of art that covered the floor and they were happy to be a part of something great, they were happy to be self-expressing their selves.
One of the first artists that caught my eye was Greg Banks whose distinct fashion style made you believe he was a celebrity that you had to take a picture with. Greg had on distressed/tie-dye, silk, suede material that was not only colorful and vibrant but it reminded me of a mixture of Prince’s style alongside the hippie, 70’s style. Greg’s nostalgic style matched not only with his personality but his music as well. Greg Banks is not only a singer but a songwriter, and a musician. When I asked him about his music style he told me “my music is a fusion of soul funk and rock and roll, all around good music. You can find me at www.gregbanksmusic.com. If you’re in LA, next Saturday we’ll be at the “Whiskey A Go-Go,” performing. I asked Greg what was his inspiration to becoming the artist he is today and he told me, “growing up in New Orleans everything around me is creative, and everything around me is artistic. What inspired me the most was growing up as a child around the projects and realizing that I was given a gift, a responsibility and I had to take that gift use it to inspire someone and help change someone’s life . I hope that my music will change or inspire someone’s to not only pursue their dreams but make their life better.”
Two Deejays, DJ Colorful and Dj Ease each took turns showcasing their talents on stage as the audience couldn’t help but dance to their mixes. Dj Ease was scratching on the records while Dj Colorful took the role of the “Hypeman” and got people from the audience on their feet from their blankets. I kept saying “Yesssss!” as I bumped my head and moved my feet to the mix.
They were not the only artists to have me feeling nostalgic during the festival. I enjoyed the sounds of Hip Hop, R&B and Jazz that came from the group “Ocean Noir”. When I asked the group about how they came to be, they explained to me together that they got the idea of their name from Ocean Ave, an area in Brooklyn that they would live by and also where they would record their tracks. ““Noir” means black in French, if someone can connect to our music in whatever way, whether they are having a bad or good day, and vicariously live through our music then we have done our job. Our music style is jazz influenced, it’s a little bit of everything, rap hip-hop and R&B.Our lyrical style is nostalgic, it’s kind of like a 90s vibe, kind of Brooklyn vibe.” I understood what “Ocean Noir” meant when they said their music has a Brooklyn vibe from listening to their performance and understanding that they meant that that it brings you back to the days before everything was controlled by technology and people were more about flow, sharing vibes and living life to the fullest and showing all of that in their music.
A band that truly changed my perspective on music was “Shinobi Ninja”. When I first saw members of Shinobi I was impressed by the vibrant and bright colors that each member was wearing. You could see each member had their own style. There are six members that make up the group, playing bass, Alien Lex, singer and rapper, Baby G, DJ AxisPowers, drummer, rapper, singer and guitarist, Duke Sims, and guitarist, Manic Mike. “Were about positive vibes, our music style is hardcore, positive vibrations. We like all kinds of music, were funky, we like Reggae, Hip Hop, and Metal, I mean who cares, we like to do our thing and have fun. Our fashion is what makes us feel good; it’s like making art, like making a song.”
Terminator Dave the drummer told me how Shinobi Ninja came to exist. “I started the band with my bro DA way back in the day and then Baby G came in the scene and some songs lead to live band performances which lead to 6 years touring. We hit almost all the states, east coast heavy from New York to Miami. We’ve gone from Miami to Texas a handful of times; we did a big national tour and just had a great time doing it. We are not only a band but a family.” Some of the members talked individually about what each of them bring to the group for example Alien Lex said, “I play bass and I like to go crazy, jump around and go crazy! Kid Shredi aka Manic Mike replied, “I just go for fun and play guitar.” Baby G said, “My music and fashion style is eclectic, it’s a lil bit of everything, rap, rock, funk and more, and it shows in our music. I ended up joining Shinobi because I was asked by the Dj and the twins and the lead singer/rapper, Duke if I wanted to be in the band after they had seen my talent and then I joined the band.”
When I heard Shinobi perform, I felt the bass run through my veins, I felt their energy transfer into me with every song that they performed, my head was bumping, I was jumping up and down, rocking out as well as dancing. The guitars, the drums, the rapping, the singing, the scratching from DJ Axis, everything was performed excellently. Every member played their role in the band and every member was recognized for their talents. I never knew I would enjoy the sound of rock and heavy metal but Shinobi Ninja added their special flavor that made it very hard to hate. Not only were they likable on stage but their bright and sociable personalities show in each individual as well. I was even invited to their next show which will be held at the Gramercy Theatre, in New York on Saturday August 20th.
I also had the great pleasure of meeting the “Lezzepplin” girls, an all girl, New York City based band that dedicate their life to reincarnating Led Zepplin’s music. Not only can you see that in their music but their unique fashion style brings you back to the days of Zepplin. They break gender barriers with their rocking out music style, from the guitars, to the drums to the singers.
The vibes that I received from the Brooklyn Music Festival were so dope ! I not only enjoyed the music but the company as well as the art. The festival shows that everyone is different and everyone had their own unique style that made them enjoyable and great performers. My perspective changed on how I saw music when I was finally able to appreciate good music, live. If you want a place to enjoy good vibes this is one of them but you are going to have to wait until next year for the next festival. I encourage everyone to come out.