Sitting in a folding chair outside the Hippodrome on Saturday, King Solomon Samuel Shepherd said he couldn’t wait to be on the front lines to see legendary hip hop artist Grandmaster Flash and feel young again.
Although the trailblazing DJ was scheduled to headline the 2nd Street Festival in Richmond this weekend, his performance was moved to the historic venue after anticipated inclement weather from Hurricane Ian led organizers to cancel the annual event.
Samuel Shepherd, 66, said he was disappointed the festival was canceled but was nonetheless delighted to see one of his favorite performers of the time at the same venue where he won a competition talents in singing at the age of 5.
“It’s not often you see music that takes you back to your youth. And at that age, I try to grab whatever I can to get me back,” he said. “I can’t physically go back, but mentally I can.”
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The 2nd Street Festival celebrates the rich culture of historic Jackson Ward and the black community, businesses and culture that have shaped its legacy as the “Harlem of the South”.
“It is extremely important for people who have lived and seen the transformation of this community,” said Samuel Shepherd.
Venture Richmond, the nonprofit that hosts the annual event, announced Thursday that it will cancel this year’s edition as Ian heads north toward Virginia.
This year’s scheduled headliner, Grandmaster Flash, was to be a huge draw for the event. Born Joseph Saddler, Flash is recognized as one of the original hip-hop and DJing innovators of the late 1970s, developing several techniques still used today, such as record scratching and punch phrasing.
“The Message”, the 1982 single from Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, is considered by many to be one of the most enduring classic hip-hop songs – with the Sugar Hill Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight” – helping to elevate the sub -New York culture. to mainstream audiences around the world four decades ago.
Spectators arrived at the Hippodrome on 2nd Street early on Saturday, knowing it would be a popular show as admission was free. The festival usually attracts around 25,000 visitors. The venue has a capacity of approximately 550 people.
Samuel Shepherd said he and his wife, who were on the front line, arrived almost two hours before the doors opened at 4.30pm.
Latif Khaliq, 54, who was standing not far behind them, said he was also sad to see the festival canceled this year, but was delighted to see Grandmaster Flash for the first time since he started it. had seen at the Richmond Coliseum 40 years ago.
“It was a good time then – not like today,” he said. “Everyone wants to party and get along. …Your parents could drop you off at the Colosseum with four or five of your friends, and you could have a great time. You wouldn’t have to worry about someone not showing up or something happening to them.
Khaliq said he also feels The Flash performing on Saturday fits the spirit of the 2nd Street Festival perfectly, as it has become an annual tradition where former neighbors come together and celebrate the memory of their community.
“When I see a familiar face, I’m happy,” he said. “It brings me joy.”