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The sounds of Jamaica come to Utica on Monday, August 8 as The Big Takeover continues the free Levitt AMP Utica Music Series concerts in Kopernik Park. Fronted by Jamaican-born singer/songwriter NeeNee Rushie, the horn-based Hudson Valley band plays original music rooted in the sounds of Jamaican reggae, rocksteady and ska pop. The group will also feature Guthrie Lord on guitar, Rob Kissner on bass, Andrew Vogt on trombone, Chas Montrose on saxophone, Manuel Quintana on drums and percussion and Roger LaRochelle on drums.

“We always play a positive, positive, high-energy set,” Rushie promised. “We set out to put a smile on the faces of our audience and inspire movement.”

Devotees of Desmond Dekker and in the way “the old school did it,” The Big Takeover blends traditions like a group of global pop connoisseurs. Their music boasts deceptively complex arrangements and big hooks, all combined with Motown and retro soul and 21st century rhythm and blues.

Rushie said she enjoys the energy of a group of people who enjoy music together.

“There’s a special moment when the band and the audience are really feeling the moment,” she explained. “And knowing that so many people in the same room get it, it feels great.”

The family-friendly concert runs from 6 to 9 p.m. with opening act Uncle Charlie and the Meatballs, a five-piece blues/rock jam band from Utica. Admission is free, and the public is invited to bring their own blankets and lawn chairs to the concerts. The series will also offer art activities for young concertgoers and there will be food trucks on site.

More:Levitt AMP Utica Music Series line located in Utica. See who’s playing when

Rushie is looking forward to The Big Takeover’s visit to Utica.

“We used to play at the Utica Music and Arts Festival years ago when we were younger and we had different members,” she recalled. “It will be nice to show how much we have grown and that we have a new groovy lineup.”

Kopernik Park is located at 317 Genesee St. at the corner of Eagle Street and Park Avenue near DeSales.

Mike Jaquays is the community news reporter for the Mid-York Weekly. Email him at

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