Hip hop and R&B entertainment at its finest.

Welcome back, welcome back, welcome backWelcome back, welcome back…

Some of you may be too young to remember that famous jingle from the popular 1970s TV Show “Welcome Back Kotter,” but those famous two words immediately came to mind as I entered the Merriweather Post Pavilion on Sunday (Aug. 7) for the 15th annual Summer Spirit Festival.

Now, you may wonder why this is getting a review nearly two weeks after. However, concerts cost money and many people save leading up to the festivities. For soul music lovers, this is for you.

Since returning to these streets, post-pandemic, 2022 has seen a major increase in music festivals. Some festivals are now pushing for spring and fall concerts, consecutively.

As much as I love concert enthusiasts, being a lover of live music, a lot of summer concerts leave much to be desired.

However, the Summer Spirit Festival is NOT one of them. CD Enterprises, Inc celebrated its 5th year anniversary as sponsoring the event and they get it right EVERY YEAR.

Check out Malik Pollard of MadFlavor TV’s top 5 reasons to add the annual event to your next concert wish list:

1. Marsha Ambrosius

If there is one thing I know for sure, there are some artists that the DMV area always shows love to — Marsha Ambrosius is one of them. Ask any artist (well maybe not any) how the DMV shows them, love.

SIDEBAR: There is one Caveat though, if you come to The DMV to perform, you better bring a live band. Don’t come with your not-so-hot DJ and expect to just sing over tracks.

Marsha performed a bevy of hits, but what the audience and I really enjoyed is how she performed a melodious mashup of “When Doves Cry” by Prince. It was a mix that even Prince in his infamous meme would be shaking his head in approval. She did a similar interpolation when she sang “Butterflies” which we all know she wrote for Michael Jackson. What makes her performances so special is that you are never going to get the same show twice.

Even more impressive is that when you see her in D.C., you already know she is going to elevate her game to the highest and that is where the festival gets it. They know the DMV’s interest in pure soul music and deliver the artists that the area wants to see.

Summer Spiritf Festival/Malik Pollard + Motion Pixels Media

2. Anthony Hamilton

Take all I said about Marsha Ambrosius and apply it to Anthony Hamilton, seriously. Anthony Hamilton has that voice that feeds your soul. He also showed the audience that he’s more than just a “stand at the mic and sing” performer. You can’t perform to northern crowds and not move on stage. 

He embraced the down south crowd to the country where your grandmama used to hang clothes on the clothesline after church. He then showed us how to love with his songs like “Best of Me” and “Can’t Let Go.” That wasn’t all though, Anthony flipped it on the crowd and gave them his version of Luther Vandross’ classic, “Superstar.” Let’s just say, I wasn’t ready. I don’t think anybody was, but he “cranked” it though.

Summer Spirit Festival/Malik Pollard + Motion Pixels Media

3. Thee Junk Yard Band and DJ Rico

You can’t do a music festival in the DMV and not have some Go-Go music; When you get a band, you better make sure that band is legendary. Don’t go out here and get any fluke sh**! Junk Yard Band is one of those legendary bands of Crank. They go hard with no “additives..no preservatives.”

I didn’t know whether to take pictures or dance. First of all, there are no primary three songs with a Go-Go Band. They go straight through at 100 miles and more. When that crank gets to getting, ‘it ain’t no stopping. The whole sea of people was moving, doing dances like “The Hee Haw” and “Loose Booty.”


Summer Spirit Festival/Malik Pollard + Motion Pixels Media

DJ Rico, a fixture on the Washington D.C. music scene, probably danced all around Merriweather Post Pavilion as JYB continued to ‘GO HARD’ smacking the congas and beating the drums. If there was only one thing I wished to be played during their set is “Sweet Love.” However, I understand the limited time and this wasn’t just a Go-Go. Moreover, for any song they missed, DJ Rico made sure that in between the acts, we D.C. Heads were going to get our fix of Crank.

2. Method Man and Red Man

“Excuse me as a reach the sky…How High”

A word to the wise, if you have never been to a Method Man and Red Man concert, you are going to get wet. If you sit your a** in the front row, YOU ARE GOING TO GET WET. The dynamic duo is full of high energy and full of two 32-bottle cases of water which begs to ask the question: Ladies if you get your hair and nails done and sit in the front row only to have Method Man throw water on you — how would you feel about that?

I mean, all of y’all claim Method Man as your baby’s father (“Power Book II: Ghost”). Let’s rephrase: If your baby’s father threw water on you in real-time, would you be okay with it? I digress…

Midway through the show, they perform what is called the “participation part.” ”If you know the words to the song, you can sing along.” This is also a moment during the show where the audience experiences excerpts from the Wu-Tang and Def Squad playlist. 

I expected to see Keith Murray at some point, but instead the duo was joined by Street Life. I admit I was impressed at how many women sang every song while being soaked with H20. Nothing like inhibitions being loose over good music. The women, in their own right, became honorary Wu-Tang Clan members.

Summer Spirit Festival/Malik Pollard + Motion Pixels Media

1. Erykah Badu

Summer Spirit Festival/Malik Pollard + Motion Pixels Media

Whether she is Low Down Loretta Brown, Fat Belly Bella, Badulla Oblongata, Sara Bellum, Analogue Girl, or Manuela Maria Mexico, this night, she goes by the name of “Badu, the Queen of Soul and Crank.”

I’m pretty sure that her band leader, or Erykah herself, told them to adjust the volume on the congas a little bit higher for the D.C. crowd. The DMV loves Ms. Badu, and like her stage predecessors, she knows what to deliver to an audience.

A memorable live version of “Tyrone” debuted live to the D.C. crowd nearly 25 years ago. From there, it spawned its own cult following while reinviting the women’s anthem.

As she made her way center stage with a thunderous bass drop, Badu went straight into “On & On” and infused Go-Go, Hip Hop, and Soul into a Callaloo Pot that produced such an aromatic sound that we (yes we, because now I’m a fan of this Crank session) craved more of. The musical experience of the Grammy winner continued to put the audience in a trance rooted in her genius.

The diverse blend of live hip hop, Go-Go, and R&B is a mixture that works. It creates a recipe for success that will go on another 15 years and many more. Part of that music concoction is the ingredient — CRANK!

Check out Badu’s full set of genius below:

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