The 16th Annual Caribbean Reggae Fest Honors Mother B’s Memory and Contribution
Grandsons Stephen, Damian, Ky-mani & Julian Entertain the Miami Massive
Review & Photos by M. Peggy Quattro
March 6, 2009 – The day-long gathering in a downtown Miami park was a celebration of Reggae, Rasta, culture, and the Caribbean. At the heart of this tribute was love and gratitude for Cedella Marley Booker – the tower of strength and compassion who passed on to Zion on April 8, 2008. Mother B began the Bob Marley Movement of Jah People Fest as a way to honor her son and help the less fortunate. Over the years, more than two million cans of food have been donated at the gate and distributed to various food banks and charities. This year the recipient was the non-profit group Farm Share. Later in the evening, before Mother B’s grandsons took the stage before a multitude of fans, a tribute video was shown on the large screen onstage, showing the beaming smile of the beloved family matriarch, and her booming voice which drifted over a peaceful crowd on the cool Miami breeze.
Bayfront Park was a beautiful setting, complete with Biscayne Bay and trademark palm trees. The grassy area was ringed with dozens of booths offering international food and drink, arts and crafts. Blankets and chairs were everywhere, and the sweet smell of Jah’s herb was everywhere. The crowd swelled as the day went on and everyone enjoyed the massive sounds of DJs Jah Steam and Gully Banks. Not only did they spin just the right variety of music but they entertained the revelers as well. A real nice touch.
Local acts JahFe, Jean P Jam, and Finley Quaye entertained throughout the afternoon to an appreciative crowd. But when international dancehall sensation Collie Buddz hit the stage, a roar went up and the front of the stage filled with screaming girls and nodding guys. The sensational New Kingston Band backed his powerful set. Following a set change, Jamaica’s conscious DJ Capleton sprung into action, dancing, chanting, and dropping a conscious vibe on the captivated crowd. Dressed head to foot in white with ites, green, and gold trim, Capleton delivered an energetic set.
Up next, and performing at his first Miami Marley/Caribbean Fest was the Gargamel himself, Buju Banton. The Dancehall icon brought his one-of-a-kind show and tore the place up! Band, singers, presence – Buju stole the show. With hit after hit, moving from Dancehall to Lover’s Rock, singing, preaching, smiling, serious, he had the crowd dancing and cheering for more.
As the crowd continued to clamor, the stage was being readied for the team of headlining performers. The brothers Marley always come to entertain, and this evening turned out to be no different.
First up was Ky-mani, the rebel rouser with an unarguable control of the stage. Pacing like a lion from one side of the stage to the other, poised on the edge to be closer to the people, Ky-mani’s rugged vocals cut a distinct likeness to his famous father. The collaboration with Jamaica’s rocker songstress Tessane Chin was well received and she and Ky-mani added a bit of spice to the evening’s events. When the famous flag bearers appeared, a roar soared to the starless sky.
With the appearance of Stephen, Damian, and Julian Marley the crowd pushed forward, wanting to get closer to the smiling, dancing, and oh-so-handsome brothers. Julian stepped forward with his guitar and long locks flying. Between hit songs from his Grammy-winning Mind Control CD, Stephen talks to the adoring crowd sitting comfortably in the palm of his hand. Damian dashed to the stage front, spins, skanks, and spits out rapid-fire lyrics that bear repeating – Wheel… and come again! The big surprise of the evening came when rapper Nas bounced onstage to perform “Road to Zion” with Damian Marley.
Well run and well executed, the 16th Annual Caribbean Fest was once again a success – largely due to the attendance and number of cans of food received, and the quality of the performances. Produced by Bob Marley Movement of Jah People, sponsors included Rum Bum, 103.5 FM – the Beat, Nine Mile, Ghetto Youths, Mama Marley, Farm Share, Jamrock Magazine, MY33, CBS4, I&I Clothing, BigUp Radio, Hip Hop Weekly, theflyer.com, whata-gwan.com, and partyspree.com.