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‘Queens Live!’ concert brings Reggae to Rockaway

Sep. 5, 2023 By Gabriele Holtermann

Closing out the unofficial end of summer, Far Rockaway residents were jamming to “Reggae on the Boardwalk” at the Rockaway Beach Amphitheatre at Shore Front Parkway at Beach 94th Street on Sept. 3.

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Reggae lovers jammed to the tunes of the Jamaican music genre at the Rockaway Beach Amphitheatre. Photo by Gabriele Holtermann

The event was part of the “Queens Live!” free concert series, presented by Queens Borough President Donovan Richards and produced in partnership with NYC Parks and the Kupferberg Center for the Arts at Queens College, celebrating the popular Jamaican genre.

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Photo by Gabriele Holtermann

Ahead of the West Indian Day Parade in Brooklyn, New York, DJs Sir Tommy, WiFiOG, Jah Earl, Baddamon, Amy Wachtel and Chanter The Timeless Sound with Prezident Carter spun Reggae tunes exclusively on vinyl records as a multicultural crowd enjoyed the famous Jamaican genre.

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Photo by Gabriele Holtermann

The sounds were blasting from a massive 10-foot-tall “wall of speakers”  — or amplified mobile system — owned and operated by Chanter “The Timeless Sound.”

Chanter “The Timeless Sound’s massive 10-foot-tall “wall of speakers” blasted Reggae music on the Rockaway boardwalk.Photo by Gabriele Holtermann

Chanter, who lives in Flatbush, Brooklyn, said it took him and his son about an hour to assemble the giant system and that the sound system culture originated in Jamaica. Coming from a music family, Chanter was influenced by Reggae from an early age.

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Photo by Gabriele Holtermann

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Photo by Gabriele Holtermann

“It’s my culture. I grew up in it,” said Jamaican-born Chanter, who plays Reggae sounds on the Coney Island Boardwalk.

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Chanter “The Timeless Sound” and Carter van Pelt at the Reggae on the Boardwalk event. Photo by Gabriele Holtermann

Carter van Pelt, founder of Coney Island Reggae, brought Reggae on the Boardwalk to Queens in 2021 in collaboration with Phil Ballman, director of Cultural Affairs & Tourism at the Office of the Queens Borough President and Queens Borough President Donovan Richards.

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Queens Borough President and Carter van Pelt at the Reggae on the Boardwalk concert. Photo by Gabriele Holtermann

The WCKR DJ and curator for Queens-based VP records explained that the sound system was culturally specific to Jamaica and the Caribbean.

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Photo by Gabriele Holtermann

“This music was really originally recorded to be heard at big outdoor dances like this, and you don’t get to hear it like this in New York very often,” van Pelt said.

Currently, van Pelt and Charter are at odds with the New York Parks Department because of new rules pertaining to sound systems on the Coney Island boardwalk, as reported by BkMag.

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Queens Borough President Donovan Richards greets Reggae music lovers. Photo by Gabriele Holtermann

Queens Borough President Donovan Richards said there was no better place to celebrate Reggae than on the boardwalk of Rockaway Beach “to keep the culture alive.”

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Photo by Gabriele Holtermann

For Queen Borough President Donovan Richards, son of Jamaican immigrants, Reggae is synonymous with culture, dance, food, love, camaraderie and Bob Marley.

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Photo by Gabriele Holtermann

“Reggae brings everyone together no matter where you’re in the world,” Richards said. “Reggae brings people together.”

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Photo by Gabriele Holtermann

Keeling Beckford, one of Jamaica’s Reggae child stars in the 1960s, was selling all vinyl Reggae records. His uncle Theophilus Beckford recorded “Easy Snapping,” so Keeling Beckford grew up in the business.

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Keeling Beckford, one of Jamaica’s Reggae child stars in the 1960s, was selling all vinyl Reggae records. Photo by Gabriele Holtermann

Beckford explained that he sells Reggae vinyl records worldwide and that vinyl is big in Europe right now.

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Photo by Gabriele Holtermann

“[Reggae] is the second popular music in the world,” Keeling Beckford, who had just returned from Europe, said. “Reggae, to me, is life. I don’t do anything else but Reggae.”

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Photo by Gabriele Holtermann

DJ Amy Wachtel, “The Night Nurse,” started playing Reggae in the 80s.

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DJ Amy Wachtel, “The Night Nurse.” Photo by Gabriele Holtermann

“[Reggae] is uplifting, it’s revolution, it’s affirmation,” Wachtel said.

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Photo by Gabriele Holtermann

Far Rockaway resident Eddie O.J. heard about Reggae on the Boardwalk through Richards’ office and can see it happening yearly.

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Photo by Gabriele Holtermann

[The concert] is bringing out all the cultures. It’s my first time, but it’s really diverse,” Eddie O.J. said.

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Photo by Gabriele Holtermann

“Queens Live!” concludes its summer concerts at Springfield Gardens’ Springfield Park at 146th Avenue on Saturday, Sept. 16, from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.

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Photo by Gabriele Holtermann

The free concert features homegrown Queens icons Lost Boyz, along with Dennis Kellman & Glaze the MC, Royal Flush and DJ Von. It is open to the public and does not require registration in advance.

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