by Howard Campbell
SOUTH FLORIDA – It was an evening of superb performances on March 18 at Coral Springs Center For The Performing Arts where the Reggae Meets Soul show took place. Based on crowd response, patrons left the venue satisfied, especially with ska legend Eric “Monty” Morris and R&B group, Russell Thompkins Jr. and the New Stylistics.
As its name implies, the show is a blend of Jamaican music with American soul. The Code Red Band, Michael Russell, singer/saxophonist Yishka, J C Lodge and Kashief Lindo ensured there was handclapping and toe-tapping all evening.
Russell Thompkins Jr. and the New Stylistics
As he took photos backstage after his performance, Thompkins reminisced about his days visiting Jamaica in the 1970s when he was a member of The Stylistics.
“We went to Bob Marley’s home where he made music, and we hung out with (bandleader) Byron Lee. We had great times,” he said.
Thompkins’ patented tenor/falsetto retains its pristine form. With colleagues Jonathan Buxton, Ray Johnson and a pinpoint orchestra backing him, he went through a succession of hit songs that helped put Philadelphia soul music on the map.
Fans rocked and sang along to Stop, Look, Listen to Your Heart, Break up to Make Up, You Make me Feel Brand New, You’ll Never Get to Heaven, a version of Carole King’s It’s Too Late, People Make The World go Round and Betcha by Golly Wow.
Monty Morris Was a Crowd Pleaser
Morris, who recorded his first song in Jamaica during the early 1960s, gave a sprightly performance that defied his 80 years. He sang, danced and joked with the audience with songs like Oil in my Lamp, Sammy Dead, Say What You’re Saying and Humpty Dumpty.
Looking dapper in a grey suit and matching fedora, the Miami-based Morris drew sustained applause throughout a half-hour set that was easily among the evening’s high points.
It was the third staging of Reggae Meets Soul which was first held in 2018. The latest show was postponed for two years due to COVID-19.