Miami’s 15th Caribbean Music Fest 2008

Miami’s 15th Annual Caribbean Fest a Massive Success!

By M. Peggy Quattro

One of South Florida’s longest running festivals, the Caribbean Fest, formerly known as the Bob Marley Fest, was presented by Mother B’s Movement of Jah People and 103.5-The Beat. New name, but the vibe is still the same. South Florida’s massive still turned out by the tens of thousands to donate cans of food for non-profit group Farmshare, shop the vendors, enjoy Caribbean food, and be entertained by the top names in Reggae, concluding with an always entertaining set by the Marley brothers.

Capleton brought fire to the Miami Fest Photo Jan Salzman

This year featured Stephen, Damian, Julian, and Ky-mani Marley. Additional performances included Dancehall’s Capleton, Roots singer Richie Spice, Germany’s Gentleman and The Far East Band, DJ Junior Demus, Arkansas-based Rasta Joseph Israel, and newcomer Javaughn.

Miami’s Bayfront Amphitheater is a perfect setting for a daylong celebration. Although slow to fill, by late afternoon the rows of bleachers and grassy knolls were filled with fans awaiting the musical showcase. No one was disappointed as Junior Demus delivered old school Dancehall and Rasta red-haired Joseph Israel spread the music and message of Rastafari throughout the park. Capleton, looking regal in a colorful headwrap and speaking very clear English, had the crowd whipped with “Bun Bun” and “Forever Loving Jah.” Gentleman, a major performer in his native GermanyEurope, gave a powerful performance, DJing in perfect patois while backed by a portion of his fantastic Far East Band. The tall and heartical Richie Spice gave a short but commanding performance and was clearly a crowd favorite. and throughout

Ky-Mani always pleases / Photo Jan Salzman

As the Marley set was about to begin, Cedella “Mother B” Booker was seen sitting on the side of the stage, along with Damian Marley’s lovely mother, Cindy Breakspeare. Also seen were Bob’s sons Robert Jr. and Rohan, and Bob and Bunny’s half-sister, Pearl. Marley children and grandchildren were everywhere as Swamp King, a colorful and entertaining emcee, came on to pay tribute to brother Bob and whip the crowd up as he introduced Ky-Mani Marley. Shooting out like a rocket, Ky-Mani took control of the stage with his voice and stage charisma. Looking fine in a black shirt with glittering rhinestones, Ky-Mani was going through his repertoire of Roots Rock Reggae/Hip-Hop songs, many off his new CD Radio, which had the crowd screaming for more. Distinctly his own man, when Ky-Mani sings Reggae, specifically his father’s songs, he sounds uncannily like Bob Marley. This was evident on “Turn Your Lights Down Low” and “I Shot the Sheriff.” He introduced Jamaica’s songstress Tessanne Chin who performed a rocking duet with the smiling Marley. Before leaving, Ky-Mani thanked the crowd and proudly announced that he “loves Miami,” and has been here since 1987.

Sky High, a family friend who’s constant presence is never missed at the Marley brothers’ shows, then came on stage to introduce “the other brothers.” Bounding on stage to thunderous applause was Stephen “Ragga” Marley, Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley, Julian “JuJu” Marley, and the ever-present Rasta flag bearers.

Richie Spice had the vibes / Photo Jan Salzman

Switching between singing, playing percussion, and skanking to Bob Marley’s music, the brothers delivered a set full of classic Marley. From Steve’s “Roots Rock Reggae” to Julian’s “Natural Mystic” to Damian’s “War,” Marley magic was in the air. Steve’s “Buffalo Soldier” was followed by Julian’s “Three Little Birds,” both well-received, but when Damian brought out a young “baldhead” teen named Javaughn to perform a couple songs, the vibe slightly changed. Signed to the Ghetto Youths label, this was Javaughn’s introduction to South Florida– only no one knew that. So, after that head-scratching moment, and Julian delivering “Exodus,” Damian’s Dancehall took control.

Steve had a great time with family and friends / Photo Jan Salzman

The rest of the show was filled with Damian and Steve having way too much fun on “Traffic Jam” and “All Night,” before Steve went into “Pimper’s Paradise,” joined by the rapping and jumping Damian. “Welcome to Jamrock” had the crowd on their feet and singing along, and all the brothers joined together to ask “Could You Be Loved.” As the show drew to a close, the Marley brothers joined the audience in singing “One Love,” with Steve asking the crowd, “Do you love Reggae music?” It’s obvious – this Miami massive does!

(Go to Photo Album for more great pictures!)

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