The 18th Annual Bob Marley Celebration Feeds the Hungry
Words & Photos by M. Peggy Quattro
Movement of Jah People, a philanthropic organization started by Cedella Marley Booker, continues its mission to help the homeless and deliver the conscious message of her son Bob Marley. Although the festival name has changed from The Caribbean Music Festival to Nine Mile Music Fest, the atmosphere remains the same a great line-up of entertainers topped off by the acclaimed Marley brothers. This year Stephen, Damian, Julian, and Ky-mani provided uplifting performances for thousands of loyal fans scattered throughout beautiful Bayfront Park in downtown Miami.
Starting promptly at 2 p.m., Fourth Dimension, a top South Florida-based roots reggae band, kicked the show off in high gear with an enthusiastic set. More local acts followed, including DJ Juan Basshead, duo Benjah and Dillavou, MC Jumanji, and the amazingly talented Kevens, a veteran South Florida-based performer who always delivers an engaging reggae-rock performance. Fans of all ages were onboard to sing along with the bad boys of reggae when Inner Circle, celebrated reggae pioneers, took the stage to display, in roots rock fashion, why they are still relevant today. DJ Mala filled the set change with high-tech dance music as the crowd filled the time visiting the numerous food, art, and craft stalls. The scent of freshly grilled jerk and high-grade Cali weed filled the air. Always a fan favorite, Ky-Mani Marley hit the stage with energy and passion. Performing early, as in it was still daylight, Ky-mani had the multitude on their feet throughout his set, and especially when joined by rising star Protj to perform their #1 hit Rasta Love. The 7000+ fans felt a sense of reverence when Ky-mani and his band performed an acoustic version of father Bobs Redemption Song. Missed most of Major Lazers set. Not familiar with his style of dancehall-dub, I took the opportunity to go backstage and catch up wit h Ky-mani and Protj (those interviews to come.)
Thievery Corporation, a Washington, DC-based duo, seemed a bit out of place with their electronica-dub-latin-afro-rock sound but the crowd didnt seem to mind. Guess the jerk, Red Stripe, and Cali had everyone feeling reasonably Irie. Slightly Stoopid, the California-based Internet-underground sensation, brought their jam-based brand of white-reggae-surfer-rock and their solid loyal fan base to Bayfront Park. Front-men Miles and Kyle are extremely capable entertainers and performers, and the band members are all-around great musicians. Unfortunately, their set ran a bit over and this, with an extended set change, cut into the time allotted for the main acts of the night, namely the Marley brothers. The park erupted into cheers and lighters as the Marley boys bolted on stage. Backed by the incredibly hard Lions band, led by veterans Chris Meredith on bass, Squidly Cole on drums, and Erica Newell on vocals, Stephen, Damian, and Julian wasted no time in launching into their famous fathers trademark tunes. Three Little Birds, Jamming, and War led up to the first guest performer of the set. Gramps Morgan and the Marleys brought the crowd to their feet with Get Up Stand Up, and Gramps finished his part with the classic Wash the Tears. This led to a special appearance by Chris Ellis, son of Alton Ellis–the Godfather of Rocksteady, who is also following in his famous fathers footsteps.
Bringing the old-school reggae rock vibe to this star-studded set was Third Worlds lead singer Bunny Rugs Clark and famed guitarist and cellist Stephen Cat Coore. The Marley/Third World version of 96 Degrees was well-received by the Miami massive. Damian performed a couple songs off his new CD, as did Stephen and Julian. But the highlight of the entire evening involved the three brothers performing Traffic Jam, and being joined by the next generation of Marleys. Two of Stephens sons and Ziggys son David joined in, making this fest their debut to the international performing arena. The crowd loved it! Although the set had to be cut short, the Marleys did not disappoint. Steve, Damian, and Julian ended their show with Jah Army, The Mission, and a crowd-led Could You Be Loved.