DJ Norie's 3rd Anniversary of Anything Goes 3/22 Was a Sell  Off in Time Square
                             Photos & Feature by Empress K for www.reggaereflection.com

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When DJ Norie throws a show, you know it's going to be a quality event. Add the Marleys to the lineup and you know for sure it will be a sell off.  That indeed was the case with the 3rd Anniversary of DJ Norie's installment of Anything Goes held on 3/22/2012 at the Best Buy Theatre in Times Square.  Anything Goes is the name of Dj Norie's (www.djnorie.com) weekly Sunday night Caribbean themed program featuring  dancehall & reggae on NYC's Power 105.1, which is an urban station featuring R&B & Hip Hop.   DJ Norie's 2nd Anniversary Show  featured Stephen Marley, Richie Spice and Barrington Levy among others at BB Kings in Times Square on a DJ show.  Forward a year later to a bigger venue in Times Square with the addition of Julian and Jr. Gong  and a live band and you get the picture.


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Times Square was bustling with energy on the summer like night of Thursday, 3/22.  With the venue in the heart of Times Square it was hard not to miss the Best Buy Theatre Marquis with the likes of Stephen Marley, Damian Jr. Gong Marley and Julian Marley shining brightly.   Doors were advertised to open at 7pm and the line of people arriving early was wrapped around the block to fill the spacious and modern 2100 capacity general admission theatre. 

For those following my posts in the New York area, this is is what you've been waiting for.   In January, Stephen Marley with special guest Jr. Gong was a highlight of Rebel Salute in Jamaica, then in early March,  Stephen Marley, Jr. Gong, and Julian Marley  headlined the 9 Mile Festival in Miami.  One might think that the shows would be similar, however each show has its own vibe and seems to be tailored to the diverse audience members in attendance.  Even on back to back individual shows for Stephen Marley have I rarely if at all  seen the same set list.  It's always at least a slight change to the show to add that special touch.  And the NY show was no exception. 

DJ Norie's team of Selectas including  Deejay Roy, DJ Self,  Banky Hype, and DJ Polish held it down early to energize the crowd with selections of current cultural tunes from I-Wayne, Capleton, Sizzla, Tarrus Riley and many more as well as classics such as Nite Nurse from Gregory Isaacs. 

                         DJ Norie and team energize the crowd

                              "We are Soldiers in Jah Army"

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Special guests  Christopher Ellis, Black Am I , Wayne Marshall,  and  Spragga Benz the only artist not advertised on the bill hyped up the crowd before  Spragga introduced Stephen Marley to the stage for 'Jah Army'.   Jr. Gong then entered the stage further raising the level of crowd response.  Then their brother Julian was up next to perform 'Violence in the Streets' and 'Little too Late'.  Other highlights of the set included Stephen Marley's son, Jo Mersa, joining in on 'Traffic Jam' before delivering his own dancehall infused style on 'Bad So'


Special Guests Christopher Ellis, Wayne Marshall, and Spragga Benz hype up the crowd

                                  Fans enjoying the show

Jr . Gong performs his new songs to the delight of the crowd

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Damian Marley garnered an enthusiastic response when he performed two of his new songs ' Set up Shop' and 'Affairs of the Heart' dedicating the latter to the ladies,  before continuing  with a couple of my favorite older songs  'It was Written' and the anthem 'Welcome to Jamrock' before winding down with all brothers on  ' Could you be Loved' which sometimes  is the closing song of many shows.  As some patrons thought the show was over and started to depart, the die hard fans on the floor remained strong and loudly called for an encore. 


                            Marleys show it's a family affair

                                 The Show is not over yet

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After a few minutes, it was clear the night was not over yet. A strong encore ensued well past midnight  when the Marleys returned to the stage. Damian led on Justice, then Stephen Marley brought out his guitar for the first time that evening to perform the popular 'No Cigarette Smoking' and 'Tight Ship'. before all three brothers united on 'Redemption Song' and  a 'One Love' Finale to close out this epic show.   

When  DJ Norie  holds his next event,  mark the date on your calendar and get your tickets in advance as it will surely be sold out by the time you get there. I'm looking forward to see how DJ Norie will top one of the best shows in NYC of 2012 to date and it would be nice to see this 
show on the Road in Boston!

Be sure to check out the full slide show of pics below as well as video highlights from DJ Norie's Tribute to Joel Chin below. 



                                                 One Love

     Full Slide Show of Pics from DJ Norie's Anything Goes 

Check out the video highlights of DJ Norie's  Strictly the Best Tribute to Joel Chin  featuring Sean Paul, Shaggy, Mr. Vegas, Gyptian and more at BB Kings in December 2011  

 
 

The Miami  9 Mile Music festival successfully unites the people with the Love of Reggae Music
Photos & feature by Empress K for www.reggaereflection.com
Thanks to Xpressive Foto as well for photo contribution

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The 19th Annual 9 Mile Festival took place on Saturday, March 3rd, 2012 at the Historic Virginia Key Beach Park.  About 10 days before the event official statements reported that the Marleys and even Burning Spear would not be performing at the festival as originally planned. Fortunately everything worked out and all released statements the week of the show that they would indeed be performing.  

For the last few years that I've attended the event, it's been held at Bayfront Park in Miami.  This year it moved to the new location and when I arrived in the late afternoon,  the waters of the Rickenbacker Causeway were glistening in the sun tempting me to stop and take some photos.  However, time was limited so  I continued on to the nearby venue.  Ample parking in the area allowed me to park in a free lot not too far away.   A steady stream of concert goers were walking to the venue  from the various parking lots with bags of canned goods as part of the advertised entrance fee of just under $50 for advanced general admission plus 4 canned items for donation.  According the the official website,  www.ninemilemusicfestival.com, "The 9 Mile Music Festival is responsible for collecting over two (2) million canned goods over its 18 year span, in an effort to continuously give back to its community. Four canned goods are required for entry, along with a purchased admission; the canned goods collected are then distributed to shelters in Miami & Jamaica". And officially on twitter they reported that over 40,000 canned goods were collected this year alone. 



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The 19th consecutive year of the Nine Mile Music Festival had strong attendance in the thousands and featured an equally strong line up of headliners Damian 'Jr Gong' Marley, Stephen Marley and Julian Marley along with other familiar names to the 9 Mile Festival such as Tarrus Riley and Capleton who have had a regular presence on the festival in past years and this year featured Cocoa Tea and newer artists Melanie Fiona, a Canadian R&B Grammy Award winning singer and Wale a hip-hop artist.  The latter two are  featured on Stephen Marley's latest Grammy Winning Album 'Revelation Pt. 1: The Roots of Life'. Unfortunately due to flight schedules, I missed Kehv, Collie Buddz , Richie Spice and the New Kingston Band who performed prior to 5:00pm.  By all accounts that I heard, they were all received well by the audience.   Tarrus 'Singy Singy' Riley accompanied by Dean Fraser and the Black Soil Band was the first set that I saw. While I also saw Tarrus perform in January at Rebel Salute, it was great to see him have an opportunity to perform a much longer set and as always he performed a lively set entertaining the audience throughout his performance.  Look out for his new album, 'Mecoustic' coming out in April. 

Tarrus Riley  with Dean Fraser and the Black Soil Band livens up the crowd

Fans get up close and personal 

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Band changes were kept to the minimum as the next band set up for Cocoa Tea and Capleton. Cocoa Tea paved the way for great crowd interaction when he called for the fans to  "'break down the barrier" flooding the gates with general admission fans to get a chance to get up close in personal in the space that had been previously reserved for some of the photography and video personnel. 

Capleton looking Regal in his richly colored Red, Gold and Green attire was full of high energy as one always expects from Capleton.  He quickly engaged the crowd and continued strong crowd interaction throughout his set.  The emcee called for an encore of his set which the fans were definitely in the mood for more fire, however there wasn't enough time do so. 

Melanie Fiona the only lead female performer of the evening was  accompanied by two female supporting vocalists. The set endorsed by Power 96FM was fairly short but well received.  Wale was up next and definitely a favorite for the younger crowd who embrace Hip Hop as well as Reggae. Wale just couldn't get close enough to the crowd and jumped down into the crowd at one point and onto one of the speakers to further engage his fans.




Fans enjoying the 9 Mile Music Festival

Roots Cultural Reggae meets R&B and HipHop to delight the diverse crowd

Next up Burning Spear and the Marley Family for a One Love Finale
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All of the artists showed their love for the people and the crowd reacted in kind. Excitement was running high by the time Reggae Icon Burning Spear hit the stage and captivated his fans who had been patiently waiting for his appearance.  By the time the Marleys came on stage, a party atmosphere was well underway. Christopher Ellis, son of the late Alton Ellis and a member of the Ghetto Youths Crew opened with Stephen Marley's band. Then Stephen Marley, Jr. Gong, and Julian Marley  continued the celebration of the night's One Love theme by  starting off  their set with 'Is this Love' then performed  their modern versions of many of their father's songs. The lengthy set allowed each to showcase their own popular songs as well.  Julian on 'Boom Draw', Stephen on 'Iron Bars', Damian on 'Welcome to Jamrock',  as well as several collaborations with all three brothers on 'Traffic Jam' 'Jah Army', and 'Mission'.  Melanie Fiona returned  to perform a playful duette with Stephen on 'No Cigarette Smoking'.  Additional Special Guests Spragga Benz always a crowd favorite, and members of the Ghetto Youth Crew - Illestr8, Black Am I,  along with  Stephen's son Jo Mersa highlighted the next generation of Marley talent before  Damian, Stephen, and Julian closed out the evening with  'Could you be Loved' and 'One Love' with the fans eagerly singing along.



Burning Spear Captivates his fans

The smiles of Stephen, Damian, and Julian lit the Stage

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Despite some of the controversy initially surrounding the show as to who would be performing, the 19th Annual Nine Mile Music Festival was clearly a success in uniting the people with the love of Reggae Music. The smiles of Stephen, Damian, and Julian  certainly lit the stage and hopefully will have a far reaching effect that it really is all about the love.   Until next year..... One Love. 



Be sure to check out the full slide show of pics from the festival as well as a few video clips below. 


                            Full Slide show Gallery of Photos

 
 
Mighty Crown Reggae 4 Japan Benefit Concert

Recap by Empress K  @ Reggae Reflection
Photos by Empress K @ Reggae Reflection unless otherwise noted below
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On Sunday June 5, 2011,  the York College Performing Arts Center in Queens, NY came alive as reggae supporters & industry professionals from near and far arrived to support Mighty Crown's  Reggae 4 Japan Benefit Concert.  Featuring a line up of Reggae's leading performers, the sold out benefit proved to be a big success.  As promoted, all artists were present including a number of surprise guest performers and audience members to provide their support to aid the humanitarian relief efforts for the victims of Japan's recent Earthquake and Tsunami.   


ReggaeReflection was on hand to capture the essence of the event.  Many artists spoke of this cause as near and dear to their heart since they have always received great love and support from the Japanese Reggae Community.   Reggae Reflection had a chance to catch up and have interviews with new recording artist Ziggi Recado of Amsterdam, a surprise performer at the show as well as veteran artists Freddie McGregor and Maxi Priest who both have a significant presence in Japan.  

Check out the ReggaeReflection video for Behind the Scenes footage  of the sold out Reggae 4 Japan Benefit Concert featuring interviews with Ziggi Recado,  Freddie McGregor, and Maxi Priest.  Additional clips  are included from Duane Stephenson, Shaggy, Tanya Stephens, Gyptian, Mr. Vegas, Gramps Morgan, Chino, Di Genius, and more. 


Artist Interviews with Maxi Priest, Freddie McGregor & more

Video Background Music Credit:  'We Must Rise Again' by Kobwebb Productions for Diamond Edge Records
Video Credit:  Keno J. Sampson    Artist Interviews:  Grace V.


The Capacity Crowd lines up to enter York College

Artists Arrive Early to walk the Red Carpet

Artists in the Media Spotlight

Artist  Performances 

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Crowd Photo Credit:Marlon 'Ajamu' Myrie
 
The audience enjoyed energizing performances from all artists including:  Ziggi Recado, New Kingston, Alaine, Chino, Di Genius, Mr. Vegas, Tanya Stephens, Johnny Osborne,  Peetah & Gramps Morgan, Tarrus Riley, Mighty Crown,  Fireball, Duane Stephenson, Freddie McGregor, Maxi Priest, Capleton with surprise guest Shabba Ranks, and Damian "Jr Gong" Marley closing out the show with special guest Nas. 

Photo Credits this Section:  Marlon "Ajamu" Myrie

View more photos of Reggae 4 Japan in our Reggae Reflection Gallery

 
 
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Buju Banton & Friends at Bayfront Park 01/16/11
When I first heard about the Buju Banton & Friends show scheduled in Miami on the Martin Luther King Holiday weekend, I knew this was one concert I was not going to miss.  Bayfront Park Amphitheatre in Miami is a favorite place of mine to see a Reggae concert, having previously attended many Marley Festivals in the same area.  Heading to a warm destination during this very cold & snowy winter was definitely a strong selling point!
Arriving in Miami the night before the show, I felt positive about the weekend ahead.   Unexpectedly two things occurred that confirmed my belief.   While attempting to find parking near my hotel in South Beach, I discovered that the Buju & Friends official after party was being held at Mansion, a club only two blocks away.  Then upon checking into my hotel, I glanced down and noticed the latest New Miami Times magazine on the counter featuring who else but Buju Banton with 'Free the General' as the cover story!  This is certainly going to be a trip to remember.

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photo at Reggae By the Lake CT Summer 2010
Perfect sunny weather in the 70s made for a glorious start for the day ahead. I enjoyed the morning by exploring South Beach by foot before heading into Miami.  Underestimating the amount of traffic getting out of South Beach as well as the gridlock encountered in the vicinity of Bayfront Park, I finally arrived about 5:00pm to find long lines of patrons already awaiting security checks to get into the park. A familiar sight brought a smile to my face.  Amidst the crowd was the “peanut man” with his wheel barrel full of peanuts for purchase.   Many of you will know whom I am referring to. He seems to be at every big event in Boston, CT,  and NY as well as Florida.  It was also nice to see the representative from 4Seasons Party Cruise out of Atlanta working the crowd by handing out flyers for their upcoming 15th Annual Cruise featuring Freddie McGregor, Wayne Wonder, Marcia Griffiths and more taking place in October 2011. I made my way through the standard security check and of course the first person I saw was my favorite photographer,  the very talented and famous photojournalist Roy Sweetland of Sweetland Photos / Buzz Magazine capturing the vibrant essence of the day through his lens for LIME TV.

Press representing writers, photographers & videographers for web and print based media traveled from all over.  Jamaica was heavily represented as expected, with LIME TV, a sponsor of the event having a large team present that were easily recognized by their matching LIME green ‘Before the Dawn’ T-shirts. For those unable to be in Miami the show was broadcast live on LIME Mobile Tv.  A media team from World A Reggae based in Amsterdam, and Irie Vision from San Francisco were among those that I encountered that traveled the most distance along with many other media outlets from NY and Florida as well. While the general sentiment from the Press was that access was too restrictive by only allowing press to photograph and video from the press pit during the first song of each artist’s set, the majority made the best of the situation and were happy to be part of this event.   

 
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Everton Blender
 
Newcomer Richie Loop kicked off the festivities about 6:00pm as reggae fans were still steadily streaming into the venue, followed by veteran artist Everton Blender who performed an enjoyable set of  crowd favorites. More of the biggest names in Reggae were soon on their way to center stage to perform several of their well-known classic hits. Quality sets from Nadine Sutherland, Freddie McGregor, Wayne Wonder, Gramps Morgan, Wayne Wonder, Tarrus Riley & Dean Fraser, Shaggy, and DJ Khaled were well received while entertaining the sold out crowd.  There were also many surprises in store throughout the evening as special guest artists graced the stage to the delight of the enthusiastic audience.  Surprise guests included Sean Paul, Spragga Benz, Gyptian, Mykal Rose, Rayvonn, Serani, and Busta Rhymes as well on DJ Khaled's energyzing hip hop set, the final set before Buju's long-awaited performance.


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Carmelita Harris (Irie Vision) & David Oscar Markus


Quite a few of the artists made appearances in the Press area to be interviewed and pose for photographs including Everton Blender, who was the first artist welcomed by media eager to obtain his thoughts on the event.  Other artists that I observed in the Press area were Nadine Sutherland, Freddie McGregor, Wayne Wonder, Gyptian, Tarrus Riley, and Gramps Morgan.  Buju’s lawyer, David Oscar Markus, also made a brief appearance sporting a bright green ‘Free Buju’ T-shirt and graciously took time out of his busy schedule to speak with reporters and pose for pictures with some members of the media. 


 

Buju's Friends Command the Stage

The highly anticipated arrival of The Gargamel to the stage

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Buju Banton
Around 10:00pm, Elise Kelly of Irie FM Jamaica had the privilege of introducing Buju as he appeared on stage performing many of his classic hits as well as new material from his 2010 Grammy nominated best Reggae album, 'Before the Dawn'.  Beginning with his timeless classic ‘Destiny’ he performed every song stronger than the previous with each song taking on a more personal and profound meaning during this unique performance.  When singing the verse of ‘Sleepless Nights’ with lyrics referring to losing trust, it was obvious that to the contrary this audience had most definitely not lost their trust and faith in the Gargamel, despite these times of turbulence. 
Nearing the end of Buju’s stellar two hour performance, he was joined on stage by several of his closest friends. Marcia Griffiths a long time friend and mentor to Buju was a surprise guest and performed a duet with Buju.  Although Beres Hammond was also rumored to be appearing, Buju took a few moments to explain to the audience that Beres was not able to make it after performing a late night set at Rebel Salute the previous night. 


As expected, good friend Stephen Marley joined Buju on stage for three songs. Starting with a most appropriate song for the occasion, he sang Duppy Conqueror.  Damian Marley further ignited the audience’s excitement during an encore of Stephen & Damian’s hit song ‘Traffic Jam’ before the three continued with their new song collaboration, ‘Jah Army’.  Before the night was over, Wayne Wonder and Gramps Morgan returned to the stage to perform their hits with Buju. And Buju’s lawyer, David Oscar Marcus, also appeared briefly on stage at the very end before the venue’s curfew ended the show. If not for the curfew it seemed as though Buju could have continued until the morning with his tireless energy.

Buju with friends Stephen Marley, Damian Marley and Wayne Wonder thrill the audience with their song collaborations

Closing Reflection

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VIP Section of audience at close of show
A lot of media hype and high expectations led up to this historic event. When describing this event as historic, at least a few people questioned my description. I have a very simple response.  The circumstances of this event are unprecedented.  Fans of Buju Banton will always show their support for their favorite artist, however this time, most everyone had an additional purpose to be at this show.  Traveling from near and far, fans came in steady fashion to show their love and support for Buju before he heads back to court next month.  No one can predict the outcome, however, I’m certain that Buju felt the love and positive energy surrounding him from the sold out capacity crowd to his closest friends and colleagues as well as the media on hand to document the evening. Too often these events are held in memory of a passing artist. This concert displayed great unity that brought everyone together for the right reasons and will hopefully serve as a positive model for future endeavors to come. 

After returning home to Boston, I reflected upon my experience and reviewed the photos that I had the honor to take.  I realize that words alone simply cannot express the feeling of being at this event.  As they say a picture is worth a thousand words.  My hope is that the pictures fully convey the emotion that Buju and his closest friends put forth as well as the joy and love coming from the fans in support of a great artist.  Much will be written about this event by the various media outlets.  This is just my personal reflection, which I shall remember as a day not to be forgotten. 


Photo Gallery of Buju Banton & Friends 'Before The Dawn' Concert