Julian Marley: An Intimate Performance at Pineapple Groove
If you were not in Delray Beach, FL on July 14, 2011, you missed a rare opportunity. The bar was fully stocked, the music was pumping, and the entire venue was filled with excited chatter, singing, and laughter from all corners!
Picture this: Cultural diversity at its best filled the two levels of this modern-day nightclub. Rastafari, surfer dreadies, and retro-punks took over the dance floor, groovin’ together to the sounds of Lance O’s Kulcha Shok while patiently waiting for the show to begin.
Straight from Deerfield Beach, The Resolvers took the stage. Immediately they made their presence felt; they could not be ignored. The energy was electric when they went into Lee Scratch Perrys Soul Fire, Dawn Penns No No No, and Pink Floyds Breathe. Their original Babylon System, Time for a Change, and Special Delivery provided a cool meditation. The amazing vocal talent of Ojay and Sahara Smith (children of Reggae legend Ernie Smith), along with a three-piece horn section that contributed to the Ska/grassroots feel, left the audience well satisfied. The Kulcha Shok family eased our anticipation with jamming Reggae hits as we all sang and danced waiting for the main act.
Julian Marley stepped on stage with a smiling face, looking very comfortable in jeans and boots, very similar to what his father would wear. He casually pulled up a chair, sat down, and began to play an acoustic Jazz version of Natural Mystic that had everyone snapping their fingers and tapping their feet; you really felt as though there was a natural mystic in the air. Everyone seemed to obey the chorus of Soul Shakedown Party “Need your concentration, just to feel your vibration,” as they swayed to the music, clapping their hands in rhythm.
At this moment Julian addressed the patrons: Greetings in the name of His Imperial Majesty, Emperor Haile Selassie the First, JAH RASTAFARI. Then added that they were going to be doing an acoustic set tonight. This gave Julian the perfect opportunity to serenade the crowd with a wide array of his fathers music, including Mellow Mood, Kinky Reggae, and No More Trouble, while taking us down memory lane with his own singles, Lion in the Morning, Loving Clear, Violence in the Streets, and Jah Works. At this point, it was relevant that Julian introduce the Vista Lane Band – James “Jimmy Jam” Malcolm on keyboards, Aston Barrett Jr. on bass (son of the legendary Wailers bassist), Ken Fairbrother on guitar, and Craig Taylor on drums. “And I am Julian,” he smiled “but you can call me JuJu.” Laughter, screaming and applause erupted from the crowd. Three Little Birds was reminiscent of Bob Marley as JuJu immersed himself 100 percent in Jazz scatting with the skillfully arranged tune. This was an unbelievable remix that had Jimmy jamming on the piano giving it a jazzy rock n roll feel that rocked the house. That was fun as Julian laughed with a beaming smile.
Fresh off of a successful world tour in support of his album Awake, its clear that Julian has matured and is more confident and comfortable with his stage presence and as a singer. His voice was strong and full of conviction. When performing Exodus, one could see and feel his appreciation for the unity that graced the venue. With Jimmy caressing the keys, Aston thumping the bass, Ken feeling the vibes as he kicked off his shoes, and Craig drumming with heartfelt percussion, JuJu hung his head, feeling the music, and his aura surrounded the stage. After an impressive two-hour performance, the crowd demanded an encore. One Love was the perfect song to end a night of love and harmony.
We all left the venue feeling Irie with a personal touch of being lucky enough to experience Julian up close and personal. It was a real treat to see him shine in his own glory.
Note: We thank Pineapple Groove, Eppy Epstien (of My Fathers Place) and Miami-based SOS Productions for blessing us with this privilege of experiencing an intimate evening with Julian Marley.