NEXTfest Festival Highlights Washington Issues Through Music

​​NEXTfest’s second annual festival was held at Malcolm X Park from Sept. 24-25. Long Live GoGo, Washington’s Parks & People and CapitalBop will be co-producing the festival this year.

Last year’s festival consisted of a day full of jazz, funk and Go-go, striving to highlight how Black culture and music has evolved in the past decades. There were over 4,000 people at the festival last year, and producers hope to have an even larger audience this year.

The first day of the festival featured jazz, Go-go and funk music performances as well as art installations and family entertainment. The second day showcased panel discussions, cultural conversations and workshops centered around the issue of Washington statehood.

The major Go-go performers for NEXTfest this year will include UCB, TOB Band & Show, New Impressionz, jazz innovator Ben LaMar Gay, the Malcolm X Drummers & Dancers and premier Washington vocalist Cecily. NEXTfest also strives to bridge the connection between Go-go and jazz, mainly through pianist Marc Cary, who incorporates both styles in his music.

“It’s important to bridge the different styles of Go-go, like with the pocket beat and the bounce beat,” Creative Director and Founder of Long Live GoGo Justin Johnson said.

Not only does NEXTfest revolve around the issue of Washington statehood, but it is also a celebration of Black music and jazz in Washington. As Johnson mentioned in an interview with DCist, the NEXTfest music festival demonstrates “how big live music is in the city in terms of the fanfare, the culture, [and] the demographic of the people the festival drew and garnered.”

One of the event’s producers, Long Live GoGo, describes its mission as empowering local residents through music, as well as advancing racial equity throughout the world.

As Executive Director of CapitalBop Jeanette Berry explained in an interview with DCist, “Politics are part of the culture and people are part of the music.”

While NEXTfest is a way to protest major issues in Washington, it is also a form of entertainment for the Washington community.

“It’s a great attraction for the community to enjoy free and valuable live entertainment,” Jackson said.