Motown hits downtown

Published 11:48 pm Saturday, September 15, 2012

With the CVD Ensemble to back him up, Carroll Dashiell pumps the crowd up with a round of call and response. Dashiell said he would love to make Motown Downtown an annual event. (WDN Photo/Mona Moore)

When Detroit native Dawn Peters heard Washington was bringing the sounds of her hometown to Festival Park, she could not resist attending.
Peters and her fiancé, Gary Bevan danced and grooved to one classic song after another at the Saturday concert.
“We’re getting our feet wet. I guarantee you, next year, I’ll bring you a party,” Peters said.
Washington resident Carroll Dashiell and the CVD Ensemble had the crowds dancing to classics like Etta James’ “At Last” and “Dancing in the Streets” by Martha and the Vandellas at Motown Downtown.
Dashiell organized the event, which was hosted by the Washington Harbor Alliance and Potash Corp. The Motown concert was a first for Washington and drew in a few hundred people.
“It’s a very appreciative crowd, that’s all we wanted. Whether it was 500 or five million, we just wanted everybody to come together in fellowship,” said Dashiell, a professor at East Carolina University.
Carolyn Pitts and Evelyn Roberson enjoyed the music, but had one suggestion for next year.
“I’m going to suggest they start it at 4 or 5 o’clock,” Roberson said.
Pitts seconded the motion.
“Three was steaming hot,” she said. “But I hope they have it again next year.”
Dashiell’s ensemble included family and former students, all professional performers and all passionate about Motown, Dashiell said. The group flew in from Philadelphia, Los Angeles, New York and Washington, D.C. to participate in Motown Downtown.
Virginia native Jonee Martin was the ensemble’s featured vocalist. She sang two sets of Motown classics, including one of her favorite songs, “Neither One of Us” by Gladys Knight.
Martin actually co-wrote “This is Love” on Knight’s “One good Woman” album.
“I so love this town. It’s great. It’s making me homesick and it has such a great, homey, southern, down-home feeling. And I hope we’ll do so well you’ll have us back,” Martin said shortly before the show.
Judging by the dancing and swaying of the crowd, Motown Downtown may be here to stay.
“They should do more concerts like this,” said Katie Powell, taking a break from dancing with Johnna and Chloe Bell.
Shelley Bell said the event was fantastic.
“I am so, so, so, so happy they brought this to Washington,” she said.