This is the third year for Grub and Groove Festival and in many ways, it appears the festival has matured.
Promoter Chuck Byrd and his Platform Entertainment team have worked out the kinks in year one and two and this year seem prepared to deliver a festival that’s well thought through and well, “different.”
Well some of the differences are obvious. The festival is at a new location. In response to the ladies complaints about being in the grass the first year, this year the festival is on asphalt. It will be set up on the parking lot of the new festival venue Hartman Arena.
In a well thought out move, Hartman Arena offers a rain contingency plan. If it rains, the festival moves inside.
In addition and possibly unexpectedly, Chuck says the parking lot has a natural slop that makes it almost like a concert hall, with the stage down low and the seating on an upwards slope away from the stage. The good news here is for general admission ticket holders and those folks way in the back — this should help keep the VIP folks up front from blocking your view.
With a much bigger footprint, Byrd says he has room for more vendors. So, bring your pocket books and wallets, there will be more merchandise and more food vendors. A first year vendor favorite, the one with the long lines and the seafood dishes, is back.
Byrd swears there will be plenty of bathrooms and I believe we can trust him. He delivered well on that last year after a tumultuous first year potty shortage.
A few additional amenities are a separate entry for VIP ticket holders, so they don’t have to wait in line, plenty of onsite parking, and VIP seating is reserved again this year, which eliminates the need for VIP ticket holders to arrive early to get the best tables.
Now for the acts, after two years of funk and dance music, this year’s musical theme is definitely smooth R&B. This isn’t but shaking music, well maybe a few songs, but mostly it’s good old soul music. While the acts in the past were hot in the 80s, at least two of this year’s acts didn’t release the first album until the 90s. So, this isn’t a true old school festival, but it is a soul music festival.
After 7, the group composed of Babyface’s brother and nephew, plus a third family friend, have a stream of hits you’ll remember and enjoy. Their first album went platinum and had a stream of hits: “Heat of the Moment,” “Can’t Stop,” and “Ready or Not.” Other hits from this group are “Till You Do Me Right,” and a couple of remakes like Sara Smiles. Off the charts for years, they’re back on airwaves with one of their biggest hit in years, “Let Me Know,” is blowing up. It’s another slow one, but a good one.
Just like After 7, Chante Moore is on a comeback. Her new single “Real One” is getting lots of air time. It’s fairly peppy for Chante and has a new R&B sound that’s attractive to both old school and new school listeners. Chante songs you’ll easily recall are her duet with then husband Kenny Lattimore “You Don’t Have to Cry,” and her biggest hit, “Chante’s Got a Man.” Actually she has a lot of beautiful music on her albums, too bad they didn’t make it big. But you’ll get an opportunity to enjoy at least some of them if you show up for what is obviously going to be a romantic night.
That leaves the headliners, the Whispers. Not just old school, these cats are old. The recognizable twins, Wallace “Scotty” and Walter Scott turn 74 this year. Wow. Their first hit was in the late 1960s. Despite the old puns, their good music is timeless.
You’ll enjoy some of the upbeat songs like “Rock Steady” and “And the Beat Goes On,” but then they have slow songs “A Song for Donny,” “Olivia,” “If You Just Say Yes,” “Seems Like I Got to Do wrong,” just to pick a few out of great list of hits.
So this isn’t going to be a big funk fest, but if you like soul music and appreciate quality singing, a night out with a few thousand friends who also appreciate the same thing, you’re destined to have a great night.