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Caribbean Rhythms and Playful Resilience in Groove Park’s “Bend Don’t Break”

By Charlie Maybee

Groove Park_Bend Don't Break
Groove Park_Bend Don't Break

Washington D.C. based pianist and songwriter, Oren Levine, and his band Groove Park, are back with percussive and beachy new single titled “Bend Don’t Break” featuring Francillia Benjamin on vocals and Khadijo on percussion.

This song is easy listening at its most groove oriented as hand drums take center stage from the very beginning. Led in by gentle strokes on the piano, the percussion feels entrancing beneath as the smooth, cool vocals that dance like gentle waves atop a driving current. There is plenty of syncopation to keep you on your toes, while Francillia’s crooning voice acts as a tethering through line.

Taking inspiration from the palm trees of St. Croix in the Virgin Islands, the lyrics read like a warning to really understand our limits. Flexibility and adaptability are important qualities and values to carry in various situations, but the band reminds us to be cautious of our breaking points. Just as the palm trees have enough elasticity to survive large storms, they can only take so much before their branches and trunks snap under intense pressure.

Continuing to highlight the flexibility that being versatile allows, Groove Park pushes its cultural influences (jazz, merengue, soca, etc) with a unique, cross-genre, Caribbean rhythm that maintains a sense of play. As the various elements merge and coexist, the sense of resilience comes through with strength and results in something both fun and thoughtful.

“Bend Don’t Break” is available now on major streaming platforms like Spotify and Apple Music. A lyric music video for the single is also available on YouTube. Find this and more exciting new music on our Alchemical Multigenre Mixdown playlist on YouTube and Spotify.

Charlie Maybee

Charlie Maybee is a dancer, musician, educator, and writer based in Charleston, South Carolina who currently teaches with the Dance Program at the College of Charleston. His primary work as an artist is with his performing collective, Polymath Performance Project, through which he makes interdisciplinary performance art that centers tap dance as the primary medium of expression and research. He also currently plays rhythm guitar for the Charleston-based punk band, Anergy, and releases music as a solo artist under the name Nox Eterna.

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