Kabaka Pyramid, Iba MaHr & Bebble Rockers in Pursuit of Reality - Review & Photos at SOBs NYC

By Grace Vanriel  & Photography  by Anil Batra for Reggae Reflection 
Iba Mahr at SOBs NYCIba Mahr
Sunday July 12, 2015  -  Roots and Culture artists Kabaka Pyramid and Iba MaHr backed by the Bebble Rockers band headlined Sounds of Brazil (SOB's) in downtown Manhattan to a large multicultural crowd of attendees. It was the last stop on their ambitious “Young Lions” US tour that kicked off on June 11th in California making its way through twenty-four stops before ending in New York City; and by the enthusiasm of the crowd, New Yorkers were ready.

Iba MaHr kicked of the show giving us a full 50 minute set that felt to this listener like a Reggae/Soul/mini Jazz infused afrocentric consciousness that artfully turned words into elongated meaningful sounds filling the air with a warm flavorful flow.  Born Mario Greaves in Jamaica West Indies, his stage name holds significant meaning to the conscious crowd and Rastafari; ‘Iba’ means humble and calm and ‘MaHr’ is a shortened version of a territorial division in Ethiopia called “Mario of Harar.” Having never heard MaHr's music, I gave myself a few songs before settling in and before long I was glad that I had taken the time to catch his set which never once diminished in interest or vitality over the next fifty minutes. His was an intelligent presentation that filled the room with positivity and emotion and when he sang his current hit “Diamond Sox” and the audience went wild, I went wild right along with them! If you're not yet familiar with Iba MaHr's music the time has come to start listening. To get a true feel about the messages he's progressing try listening to one of his earlier songs like “Love Thy Neighbor” (which I think came out in 2012 ). From there move to “Great Is H.I.M.” on the popular Rootsman Riddim and then to one of his latest releases, a hot new song called “Travelling.” I'm definitely looking forward to getting my hands on a copy of his freshman album “Glory of the King” (VP Records) set for release sometime in the very near future.

Kabaka Pyramid SOBs NYCKabaka Pyramid
Described as an artist with “a unique musical style blending the lyricism of Hip hop, with the energy and melody of Reggae and Dancehall”, I admit that description seemed ambitious and had me curious to hear Kabaka Pyramid on stage.  No matter what, how an artist records with the benefit of studio technicians versus a live on stage presentation is for me the make and break for any artist because the question is, can the artist hold up without the benefit of studio technology? As I waited for Kabaka (born Keron Salmon) to take the stage I admit that I wondered if he could indeed blend three musical genres and make his set interesting enough to hold my short attention span. It didn't take long to discover that both his music and energetic performance style was a spellbinding treat to the ears that inspired you to listen to the melodies and watch his different style of relaying his musical message. During the evening Kabaka sang one of his highly rated songs called “Warrior” adding Hip-Hop verses (complete with use of a spot-on yankee [American] accent, which was the favorite song for me and my friends in attendance. Oh yeah, Kabaka can blend and he most definitely proved that he could. Loving the audience he artfully moved through his performance setting off magic energy sparks on the stage; during his generous set he also evoked music in respect to artists who inspired him like Bob Marley and Sizzla, letting loose tribute songs originally recorded by both Reggae icons. 

Kabaka Pyramid and Iba Mahr at Sobs NYC
Kabaka Pyramid and Iba Mahr share the stage
Kabaka Pyramid and Iba MaHr ended the show together on stage going tune for tune and that was fun! As I watched them enjoying the music together it dawned on me that this is what Reggae is supposed to be all about...love and unity not badmind and competition. If this is the next generation of Reggae artists, you can bet I’m ready for the new dawning. I believe that  part of the reason the tour and both artists did such excellent jobs is because they believe their messages and the power that has been given to them is great and endless. They did not just come to entertain, they came to enlighten and that's just what they accomplished. And, although I don't yet know their individual names it would be horrible if I didn't mention the excellent backing band called “Bebble Rockers” because they were so on point you couldn't separate them from the notes they played or the singers...they were an instrumental part of the magic, and they were tight.  The New York leg of the tour was presented before one of the toughest audiences found anywhere in the world and those young lions came and conquered and it’s my prediction that the next place they are headed is to super-stardom!

Photo Gallery - Kabaka Pyramid and Iba Mahr

Grace Vanriel is the founder and CEO of the Live Reggae NYC network and co-founder of The Reggaeholics Movement to preserve and promote Reggae music as a traditional Jamaican art form; she is a freelance writer for Where Itz At Magazine, Senior Correspondent for ReggaeReflection.com, CatchTheVybe.com, TheReggaeVibe.com and the Assistant Caribbean Editor for CitiLyfe.com (online and print).

Anil Batra is the owner of BobbyShakesNY.com 

 The Fans Go Wild with Non-Stop Music at
Groovin' in the Park  2015

Story by Grace Vanriel  Photography by Empress K (Reggae Reflection)
Barry G Co-host of Groovin in the Park Barry G co-host of Groovin in the Park
QUEENS, N.Y.- - For the fifth consecutive year an endless flow of fans into the thousands streamed uneventfully into Roy Wilkins Park in Queens New York for the day long Groovin' In The Park Festival 2015.  Although the early part of the day was marked by cloudy skies threatening summer rain, the lineup was so tight that even the threat of rain did not deter fans from coming out in full force. So obvious in the chatter among attendees who filled the park with beaming faces was the feeling of 'positive vibes' that possibly prevented the rain from ever materializing as if to say the festival warranted a special blessing. And guess what? Groovin' in the Park  kicked off precisely as advertised giving ticket holders excellent programming that included epic performances by everyone from currently emerging artists to some of the biggest most established and exciting names in Reggae, Rhythm & Blues and Pop.

Non-stop entertainment started with musical presentations by up and coming artists in a festival segment they are now calling “Groovin' Idol.” As a long-time advocate for  professional platforms for qualified emerging artists to be seen and heard, along with the commitment of NY area producers to help build the visibility of emerging Reggae artists, I really enjoyed this segment and the incredible talent who merited the opportunity. Most noteworthy is an artist that I've long admired, a Roots & Culture singer with strong lyrics and an exceptional presentation style professionally known as Iyata Safari; her rich melodic voice flawlessly belted out three original songs: “Safari” (sung acapella), “Mama Afrika” and “I'm a Black Woman” that were all met by appreciative applause.  Noteworthy praise for stellar performances are also awarded to  Vision, Pres Fyah,  and Taj Manchan who audiences should most-definitely look forward to hearing more from in the future.

Luciano Groovin in the ParkLuciano "Jah Messenjah"
Once the festival’s headliner artists took the stage it was a landslide of hit after hit setting off  an unstoppable momentum right from the start that only grew in excitement with each performance. Clearly returning to his Dancehall roots nary missing a beat, Lieutenant Stichie gave a brilliant uplifting performance that included a sprinkle of  Gospel music and classic energetic Dancehall. Over the years he has proven that whatever type of music he performs it will be a show stopping experience for audiences.  Praiseworthy songs included “Wear You Size” and “Natty Dread” right up to his recent recording “Letter To Dad” backed by the charismatic bassist Derrick Barnett and his  Statement Band.  

As a last minute addition to the lineup, Reggae legend Judy Mowatt returned again this year to grace the stage and perform many of the songs she is loved for such as “I Shall Sing.” Needless to say her confident and commanding stage presence is a powerful draw. Her songs are truly heartfelt and a sheer pleasure to listen and sing along to lyrics that are indelible in my mind and those of countless fans. If she appeared every year that would be just fine with me because Ms Mowatt is an artist who you can never tire of hearing. Next up was Luciano nicknamed “Jah Messenjah” who was up to his usual high-energy antics and even managed to outdo himself at Groovin' In the Park 2015. At one point he left the stage heading out into the dense crowd all the while singing his heart out. Luciano's segment went over exceedingly well with fans although appearing to be a nightmare for security forces who he brushed off as he literally jumped off stage to meet the people and ran through the audience. Now imagine Luciano in the midst of a packed field completely swarmed by countless fans giving him hugs and kisses but never missing a beat. Singing many of his hit songs my personal favorites were “Sweep Over My Soul”, “It's Me Again Jah” and “Give Praise” all of which were tremendous successes with the audience who sang along. Since its inception Reggae has been music for the people and Luciano drove home that reminder with beautiful inspirational lyrics and fearless actions.

Cocoa Tea Groovin in the ParkCocoa Tea
Cocoa Tea who is known for an ability to completely steal a show was brilliant. His performance was so musically pleasing and his act so very engaging that he easily won agreement from the audience that the twenty-five minute allotted performance time slot he received was not nearly enough for an artist with his terrific catalog. As much as the world of Reggae frowns on the hint of self-aggrandizement from Roots & Culture artists, truth be told it's impossible to quarrel with the truth!  Cocoa Tea left us with a satisfying feeling from the top of our heads to the tips of our toes!  

Known to fans by many names such as The Fireman, King David, The Prophet and King Shango (thought to be his personal favorite), Capleton performed next.  Just as the audience began delving into his presentation the already vocal audience was caught off guard and turned up notches in excitement with the unexpected entrance of multiple Grammy Award winning artist, Stephen Marley.  Together they sang the incredible 2014 release “Rockstone” from Stephen’s upcoming LP “Revelation Part 2: The Fruit of Life” (Stephen  Marley featuring Capleton and Sizzla) as well as  “It Was Written,” a song released in 2001 by Damian “Junior Gong” Marley (featuring Capleton, Stephen and Rapper Drag-On) heating up the stage 350 degrees!  
Capleton jumping at Groovin in the Park
The energy of the Fireman!
Stephen Marley and Capleton
Surprise guest Stephen Marley joins Capleton
Capleton Stephen Marley, Cocoa Tea at Groovin in the ParkCapleton, Stephen Marley and Cocoa Tea
Within moments both Luciano and Cocoa Tea returned to the stage and the four sang the Bob Marley song “Three Little Birds” with each artist adding their own personally styled variation. The next act that took the stage was Morgan Heritage who are currently on tour promoting their latest album, "Strictly Roots." Their set was characterized as explosions of music and a wonderful treat to their excellent repertoire including a tribute to Buju Banton and Toots Hibbert -- they created the perfect ending to the second segment of Groovin' In The Park!

Gramps Morgan Groovin in the Park
Gramps Morgan
Gramps Morgan and Peetah Morgan Groovin in teh Park
Gramps and Peetah Morgan
Peetah Morgan Groovin in the Park
Peetah Morgan
Mojo Morgan
Mojo Morgan
Una Morgan and Peetah Morgan
Una and Peetah Morgan
Una Morgan Groovin in the Park
Una Morgan
Billy Ocean Groovin in the ParkBilly Ocean
The star that he is, the sleek looking well dressed charismatic Grammy Award winning international star born in Trinidad, Billy Ocean (who I've never seen perform in NY) stepped up to  the stage and delivered a rousing performance! It felt like Ocean sang all of his hits including songs I grew up loving like “Suddenly,” “Get Out Of My Dreams,” and “When The Going Gets Tough The Tough Get Going;” by the time he let loose his 1985 Grammy Award winning song for Best Male R& B Vocal Performance called “Caribbean Queen” the audience exploded in song, dance, screams and nonstop applause! I wondered how celebrity Pop/Rock balladeer Michael Bolton, a two-time Grammy Award Winning artist was going to follow Ocean but, my concerns were baseless. 

Michael Bolton Groovin in the Park
Michael Bolton
Michael Bolton Amanda Brown
All eyes on stage
Bolton performed a smart set reminding us why his name is as relative today as it was at the beginning of his career. His set included the type of music he excels in performing such as “Sitting On The Top Of The Bay,” and the song that won him his first Grammy for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance in 1989, the tearjerker “How Am I Supposed To Live Without You.” From there Bolton pleasingly and effortlessly slid into two great makeovers that simply capped off the perfect day,  “Ain't No Mountain High Enough”  and “When A Man Loves A Woman.”
Barry G host of Groovin in the ParkGroovin in the Park Mascot
Groovin' In The Park organizers, sponsors and event partners should be recognized because they did a great job and without them the festival would not be possible.  Since year one the  “Presenting Sponsor” has been The Door Restaurant owned by the festival's founder and driving force behind its growing success, CEO of Groovin' Inc., Christopher Roberts who has obviously invested heavily to bring a high-quality mixed music genre event to NY by putting his money where his mouth is.  A list of “Major Sponsors” includes TC Tropical Products, TD Bank, and the Nestlé drink brand Nutrament so very popular in the Caribbean community. “Event Partners” includes Tower Isle's, Caribbean Airlines, Jamaica Tourist Board, MetroPCS, LAPARKAN Shipping, Royal Caribbean, Bakery, Groovin Radio, Kingston Korner Shop, Fly Jamaica Airlines, Bullzii Marketing, The Smoke House, Jamaica National Money Transfer, Western Union, Money Graham, SQPA (South Queens Park Association) and CEEN TV.  Several proclamations where awarded throughout the event making it a day not only of music but recognition. And, as far as recognition goes hats off to MC Ras Clem and Barry G, to DJ’s Bobby Konders, Jabba and DJ Inferno for a job well done!

Barry G and Billy Ocean receive Congressional Proclamations

Groovin' In The Park is staged with family attendance in mind as evidenced by the fact that children under the age of twelve entered free and not one featured act was prohibitive to the ears of children or young adults. The evening faces of exiting attendees reflected happiness and excitement signaling repeat patronage for the 2016 production. 
Young fans enjoying Groovin in the Park
Groovin' In The Park is a pretty incredible testament to producers finding an unexploited niche for audiences salivating for more star studded festival-type Caribbean mixed genre music event choices in the NYC area, and meeting that need to perfection.

Enjoy the Slide Show of all photos below

After covering Groovin’ In The Park for five consecutive years, the day’s only drawback for our team of media professionals (as well as other teams) were the restrictive media allowances and the difficulties we experienced in working side by side  as a team (as is our custom) while trying to obtain such things as photographs, artist soundbites or interviews needed to complete our coverage.  Although we appreciated receiving media credentialing,  the pass restricted us to areas that were not optimal for producing full-coverage. For example, we had no access to the photo pit and had to shoot from within a crowd of enthusiastic fans; we were disappointed at not being able to obtain even one shot of our signature off stage images to share with our readers. Also hampered by the assigned location, our correspondent had great difficulty viewing the stage  “at all times.” Even with the provision of an official media tent, not all artists stopped by and in any case, if we left to catch up to an artist we were unable to return to the area carved out to get a good photo or view of the concert.  Frankly we do not see the logic of restricting legitimate media coverage so severely, especially when you have such a great event.  However it’s worth pointing out in the hope that their policies will be revised in time for next years staging.

Grace Vanriel is the founder and CEO of the Live Reggae NYC network and co-founder of The Reggaeholics Movement to preserve and promote Reggae music as a traditional Jamaican art form; she is a freelance writer for Where Itz At Magazine, Senior Correspondent for ReggaeReflection.com, CatchTheVybe.com, TheReggaeVibe.com and the Assistant Caribbean Editor for CitiLyfe.com (online and print).

Empress K is the Founder, Editor, and Primary Photo-Journalist of www.reggaereflection.com.  Reggae Reflection has gained international recognition providing quality coverage of premier reggae events in Jamaica, Canada, Trinidad and Tobago, Aruba, Barbados, Guyana, and Nigeria as well as numerous completed photography assignments  for notable  Reggae Events in the New England area, NY, Alabama, and Florida region.   Festival coverage has included Groovin In the Park, Six Flags NJ Caribbean Concert Series, IRAWMA, HangOut Festival Alabama, 9Mile Festival Miami, Rebel Salute,  Montreal Reggae Festival, Sunfest FLReggae in the Hills and more. 

Story and photos by Xavier LeBlancReggae Reflection Correspondent.

Hip Hop Star Lupe Fiasco Rocks #SummerFest - Review and Photos

Lupe Fiasco SummerfestLupe Fiasco
"The World's Largest Music Festival" and "The Big Gig" are just a few of the names associated with Summerfest which is one of the most recognized music festivals in the country. For several decades the eleven day festival has brought together hundreds upon hundreds of bands and musicians each summer of the year. Music enthusiasts of all genres from all parts attend the festival which is held within the city of Milwaukee, Wisconsin in Henry Maier Festival Park near the downtown lakefront area. On July 3rd, perhaps the busiest day of the festival and day of the traditional fireworks show aptly known as the "Big Bang", concert-goers were treated to an electrifying evening.  Thanks in no small part to a crowd rousing performance by Lupe Fiasco, a hit recording influential hip-hop artist from the neighboring area of Chicago, Illinois whom has earned critical acclaim and is known as a master lyricist. Lupe Fiasco has been a featured headliner at Summerfest for several years now, with this being one of his most celebrated appearances. 

Lupe Fiasco Summerfest
The immense crowd at the Miller Lite Oasis stage filled the outdoor area to capacity shoulder to shoulder as the ecstatic eager bodies grew in quantity during the headliner's performance. The charismatic artist buoyantly walked across the stage wearing a vibrant gold colored shirt and sporting dreadlocks which he would later whip wildly in the air while dancing in the midst of singing classic fan favorites and his band's guitar solos. He also provided new exciting sounds from his latest album Tetsuo & Youth

Lupe Fiasco Summerfest
Lupe Fiasco connects with fans at Summerfest
Sending the crowd into deep fervor were instances of the artist launching water from water bottles into the enthusiastic energetic crowd and a fan throwing him a shirt which Lupe waved around as he performed. The talented hip hop artist effortlessly had total control and attention from the crowd as he guided them through chants like "Milwaukee ain't ready!" as they responded "Lupe ain't ready!". Countless fans waved their arms  and sang along to hit records like Out of My HeadThe Show Goes OnBattle Scars and more. 
Lupe Fiasco Summerfest
Lupe Fiasco performs at Summerfest
Lupe ended the night with one of his biggest hits to date, the platinum selling single Superstar and nearly everyone in the expansive audience used their cell phones as lights waving them along as they joined the song's chorus.  It was a powerful memorizing sight and a fitting finish to an unforgettable performance at Summerfest 2015. 
Lupe Fiasco Summerfest
Lupe Fiasco - Lighters in the air for "Superstar"
Xavier LeBlanc is an experienced media professional currently producing national entertainment material. With a deeply rooted admiration for reggae music and the talented artists within, he prides himself in providing diverse coverage for fellow music fans and enthusiasts. For more information or media inquiries please contact at Xavier@NowPremiere.com

Chronixx & The Zinc Fence Redemption 
Capture Land Tour and The Power of Reggae 

Story by Grace Vanriel, Photos by MyFlash Photography for Reggae Reflection 
6/6/2015 -  Lining every available nook and cranny of the spacious multilevel Irving Plaza concert hall located in downtown Manhattan, it was elbow room only for fans out to see Chronixx and his band ZincFence Redemption on their 2015 “Capture Land Tour.” The concert was jam-packed and only the VIP areas offered slightly more breathing room and seating options and even there, it was an unprecedented crush. It's hard to imagine that as a Reggae act, Chronixx only started touring outside of  Jamaica W.I. in 2013, and that by the following year he was already seeing exponential growth of his fan base and receiving a flurry of bookings as he grew in international acclaim but, it's true. With record sales also steadily growing, everything required for a successful music career is in place and pointing towards a prosperous professional future.  It's also now impossible to deny that this young, high pitched, lyrically motivated  Rastafarian sing-jay calling himself Chronixx and his extraordinarily talented band mates with an unmistakable sound are much more than just fly-by-night one (or two)  hit wonders.

Creating and singing great Reggae music is one thing. But actually winning the unwavering loyalty of fans is another. Chronixx (born Jamar McNaughton) has been very successful at doing both. While the first-ever  EP released by Chronixx in 2010 consisting of seven tracks called Hooked on Chronixx earned him industry respect, the EP did not make him an overnight celebrity.  His rise to fame was short but incremental receiving its first incredible boost when he performed on NBC's ‘Tonight Show’ as a special invited guest of show host Jimmy Fallon. The song he chose was already a popular hit single from his second EP Dread and Terrible (2014) called Here Comes Trouble  (Rootsman Rhythm). The performance broadcast live on US national television certainly helped catapult Chronixx into a number two spot on  the Billboard Digital Reggae Singles chart, and brought him to the attention of American audiences. However, that performance alone does not explain the sheer speed in which he has continued to rise in popularity since that time which is a dream come true for the artist, and Reggae history in the making.

Following the Dread and Terrible Tour, the Capture Land Tour is the second major tour undertaken by Chronixx and is so-named after another song on his Dread and Terrible EP. Capture Land continues to build around a  theme of unification through increased social consciousness and takes this interesting new celebrity to twenty-one shows across the United States that kicked off on May 23rd at the California Roots Festival and ends on June 20th  at the Fillmore in Miami.  Enthusiastic New York fans attending the Irving Plaza show, as part of the 2015 Governors Ball After  Dark  series, arrived early and in full force, waved Ethiopian flags signifying their understanding and unity with the lyrical messages by holding up lighters and singing along with Chronixx as he performed Rastafari inspired Reggae.  Chronixx kicked off his generous two hour concert with the song Alpha & Omega and included a number of other outstanding well performed selections namely:  Start a Fire, Eternal Fire, Never Give Up, They Don't Know, Most I, Thanks and Praise, Access Granted, Somewhere, Smile Jamaica, and a popular remake of the Inner Circle song featuring Jacob Miller called Tenement Yard (News Carrying Dread). Tastefully sprinkled throughout the set were short thanks and praises to Jah and brief social commentary on subjects that impact our daily lives, making the entire evening a true Roots & Culture Reggae styled presentation.

Chronixx Capture Land Tour
Fans at Irving Plaza
Chronixx Capture Land Tour Iriving Plaza NYCChronixx and the Zinc Fence Redemption
Chronixx and the ZincFence Redemption's obvious love of Reggae music was apparent in their overall presentation at Irving Plaza. Their generous set never faltered in energy characterized by lyrics that created a storyline and most importantly, a seamless ability to move artfully between the traditional Reggae beat to the modernization of the sound that successfully blended older styled presentations with a newer one.  Without going into a lengthy debate on the existence of a “Reggae Revival,” at this point I would interject that if by definition the term is narrowed to mean the   “popularization of traditional Reggae music” then I would have to agree, a change has come.  It was a sight to behold - Reggae lovers attentively watching Chronixx's every movement on stage, absorbing his message, and  swaying where they stood clearly transformed by what they saw and heard. The evening was a totally uplifting experience that fed the mind and moved the body.

Band Members

Jamar "Chronixx" McNaughton, Joshua "Flubz" Jones, Nnamdi Robinson, Elisha Ellis, Hector Lewis, Evan "Yello" Mason, Stephen Coore 

Grace Vanriel is the founder and CEO of the Live Reggae NYC network and co-founder of The Reggaeholics Movement; she is a freelance writer for Where Itz At Magazine, Senior Correspondent for ReggaeReflection.com, CatchTheVybe.com, TheReggaeVibe.com and the Assistant Caribbean Editor for CitiLyfe.com (online and print).

Marjorie Flash is the CEO of MyFlash Photography; she is a freelance photojournalist for Where Itz At Magazine, ReggaeReflection.com and contributing photographer for  
Story and photos by Xavier LeBlanc, Reggae Reflection Correspondent.  
Cham Setup Shop Vol 2 TourCham
Elements of pioneering musical generations and modern burgeoning artists have recently combined to produce a new wave of music on the popular album release Set Up Shop Vol 2. The album is a new compilation presented by Damian, Julian, and Stephen Marley through their label  Ghetto Youths International. The compilation also features a variety of talented collaborators including Wayne Marshall, Jo Mersa Marley, Christopher Ellis, Cham and Black Am I. The release claimed the No.1 position on the US Billboard Reggae Album chart in its debut week, following the great success of the 2013 initial album Set Up Shop Vol 1. Now to celebrate the album a nationwide tour was launched featuring several of its skilled artists. 

One of the stops on this exciting new tour included the city of Madison, Wisconsin where we had the privilege of capturing much of the magic that ignited the stage that night. 

The first artist to blaze the stage was the soulfully melodic Black Am I, who gifted the audience with a selection of conscious reggae vibrations for the intimate crowd at the city's charming venue. Black Am I began the set with his self titled track using smooth vocals revering roots and culture with lyrical references to Martin Luther King and Marcus Garvey. Further tracks included the faster paced, bolder and refreshingly empowering titled Samson Strength, featured on Set Up Shop Vol 1. Ending the set was Black Am I's new single from Vol 2 In The Ghetto featuring a sweet upbeat feel as the crowd danced along joyously while Black Am I delivered the song's meaningful chorus. 

Gracing the stage next was the extremely talented Christopher Ellis, who many may recognize as son of the Godfather of Rocksteady Alton Ellis. Christopher quickly kicked off his performance with Willow Tree, a sentimental heartfelt rendition fueled with lyrical passion. Many of Christopher's songs were backed with a mood of joyful romantic thought or R&B style heartbreak. He stated to the audience briefly between songs that his melodies were directed toward his female fans with a little something for everyone else as well. This was followed by thoroughly enjoyable catchy songs such as You Babe and Roller Coaster, originally from his EP release Better Than Love produced by Damian Marley.

A big treat for those in attendance was the presence of dancehall veteran Wayne Marshall who has been recording music for over 12 years. His trademark energy and enthusiasm was immediately apparent as he literally jumped onto to the stage and began performing the high octane track OK with Marshall encouraging the audience to excitedly shout part of the chorus. He charmingly smiled for the audience and infused an elevated mood while performing songs from Set Up Shop Vol 2 like On The Corner and Nah Give Up. An unexpected bonus came with a special tribute between songs to reggae legend John Holt who recently passed away. Marshall succeeded in honoring his music for a new generation while also displaying the joyful sounds of his own new music from his 2014 album Tru Colors.

A young new promising artist in the Marley family also blessed the audience with his own unique sounds, as Jo Mersa Marley, son of Stephen Marley was welcomed with a very eager delighted reception. Mersa shared with fans his latest and popular song Rock and Swing which was accompanied by a musically addictive beat and strong sounds. This was followed by Sunshine as many in the audience happily sang along during the upbeat performance from his 2014 Comfortable EP. Returning to the stage to join Mersa later was Black Am I as they traded verses and entertained with their smooth collaborative performance. A classic to any almost reggae fan in the world was One Love, a song originally performed by Mersa's iconic grandfather Bob Marley. It exemplified the blending of old and new, past trailblazers and future reggae stars all combining their sounds for the crowd's pleasure. 

Ghetto Youth International Artists:  Jo Mersa, Black Am I, Wayne Marshall and Christopher Ellis


Cham Set up Shop Vol2 Tour
Last and certainly not least was an intensely electrifying set by Cham, a charismatic popular artist who has been entertaining fans around the world for many years. There was no doubt as Cham entered the space that the crowd was about to encounter an impeccable energetic performance. He made his entrance with the hit reggae version of This Is Why I'm Hot to begin building the foundation of his vibrant show. Sharing a bit of humor between tracks he also described the meaning of "bumbaclot" to everyone and it's opportune use as the audience laughed and played along. Cham's uncanny ability to dance with optimum levels of energy while singing was on full display as he provided exuberant spectacle with songs like Wine as the venue lit up with people moving right along the dance floor. Cham's performance alone would have proven worthwhile for ticket holders as he delivered what seemed to be a near hour long supply of excitement during the show. To finish off his set Cham shared his next likely hit single I'm Too Hot from his upcoming album Lawless and fans embraced the song with a high joyous reception.

Before ending the night Cham introduced each member of the Mad People Gang band individually with great praise as each member (Kevon Clarke, Drew Keys, Javaughn Bond, Jason Farmer) showcased their selective skills for the supportive audience. Bass player Javaughn Bond (who also provided background vocals throughout) performed a solo alongside Cham as the two used Eminem's Lose Yourself as inspiration with Cham singing as they provided the crowd with one last burst of great energy to end the show. 

The Mad People Gang

Each performer on the Ghetto Youths International Set Up Shop Vol 2 concert unequivocally demonstrated the power and talent of the latest generation of reggae stars who will surely be heard for countless years to come. Fans are encouraged to check out the remaining shows on the tour, don't miss it!

View more photos from Setup Shop Vol2 Tour in Madison, WI

Xavier LeBlanc is an experienced media professional currently producing national entertainment material. With a deeply rooted admiration for reggae music and the talented artists within, he prides himself in providing diverse coverage for fellow music fans and enthusiasts. For more information or media inquiries please contact at Xavier@NowPremiere.com

An up close and personal Reggae Get Together in Miami 2/15

Photos and recap by EmpressK for ReggaeReflection.com
While in Miami to cover the annual 9Mile Music Festival on Valentine's Day weekend, I along with many other Reggae festival attendees had one more chance to celebrate another great evening of live Reggae music at the gathering known at The Get Together.  On Sunday evening, House of Marley and Ghetto Youths International jointly presented a showcase of emerging talent all backed by live bands at the small and intimate venue, The Stage, located in downtown Miami.  Advertised artists No-maddz, Kabaka Pyramid, Jo Mersa and Stephen Marley all backed by their own bands gave wonderful performances.  Quite a few unannounced artists took the stage as well to make this a most memorable evening including Jesse Royal who performed Modern Day Judas with Jo Mersa.   

No-Maddz kicks off The Get Together 

Kabaka Pyramid

Jesse Royal

Jo Mersa

Skip Marley debut performance MiamiIntroducing Skip Marley
Stephen Marley performed an opening song and then had the pleasure of introducing the debut performance of his nephew Skip Marley (son of Cedella). Spragga BenzDetermineJulian Marley, and Damian Marley made guest appearances as well.  A surprise introduction of Cedella Marley during the final group finale of Could you be Loved capped off a spectacular weekend of uplifting Reggae Music in Miami. 

We would like to give a special shout out to Lance O of Kulcha Shok Music for accommodating all of the media who covered the event at The Get Together. 

Check out more of our photos in the Issue 8 of Island Stage Magazine.    Click here www.island-stage.com/ky-mani-marley/#19

The Marley Finale 

stephen marley
Stephen Marley
julian marley, damian marley, stephen marley
Julian, Damian, Stephen
Cedella Marley miami
Cedella Marley
julian marley
Julian Marley

Spragga Benz


Stephen Marley performs RockStone at The Get Together

Press Play to view all photos from the Get Together 

Empress K is the Founder, Editor, and Primary Photo-Journalist of www.reggaereflection.com.  Reggae Reflection has gained international recognition providing quality coverage of premier reggae events in Jamaica, Canada, Trinidad and Tobago, Aruba, Barbados, Guyana, and Nigeria as well as numerous completed photography assignments  for notable  Reggae Events in the New England area, NY, Alabama, and Florida region.   Festival coverage has included Groovin In the Park, Six Flags NJ Caribbean Concert Series, IRAWMA, HangOut Festival Alabama, 9Mile Festival Miami, Rebel Salute, Sunfest FLReggae in the Hills and more. 

Reggae Artists Unite at 9Mile Music Festival 2015 in Miami 

Photos and Story by Empress K for  ReggaeReflection.com
Damian Marley Stephen Marley Julian Marley MiamiJulian, Damian, and Stephen Marley
Cool yet sunny skies made for a beautiful start to the 22nd 9Mile Music Festival taking place at the Miami Dade County Fairgrounds on Saturday, February 14th. The annual festival featured a great mixture of conscious Reggae Artists all sharing the same positive message of peace, love and unity.   Tanya Stephens playing a mid afternoon set gave a powerful performance while acknowledging and encouraging the ladies in the audience.  Additional strong performances followed  with sets by Hawaiian Reggae Band, The Green; Rasta Elder, Iqulah Rastafari; Jamaican DJ, Capleton;  and American Reggae / Rock band, Soja.  After a final band change,  Jo Mersa Marley opened the final set for the evening.    

Jesse Royal and Jo Mersa Jesse Royal and Jo Mersa Marley
In a brilliant move, Jo Mersa introduced Jesse Royal to the stage while Jesse’s band The King Suns seamlessly replaced Stephen Marley’s band to temporarily back the singers on Jesse’s hit song Modern Day Judas.   Next up Julian Marley, Stephen Marley, and Damian Marley performed numerous song selections and collaborations.    Stephen Marley welcomed surprise guests Spragga Benz and Determine  on stage during the set, followed by Capleton joining for a great live rendition of their Rockstone collaboration.

Artist collaborations were definitely a common theme for the day as many of earlier sets also featured superb joint efforts including Soja with Damian Marley,  Soja with J Boog,  and Soja with The Green. It was wonderful to see the mutual respect this diverse group of artists had for one another, further conveying the message of one love and unity to festival attendees. 

Enjoy our photos from the festival below.   A full slide show of all photos appears below as well.  Also, m
ake sure to check out more of our photos in Issue 8 of Island Stage Magazine.    Click here www.island-stage.com/ky-mani-marley/#19

Reggae Reflection 9Mile Music Festival Photo Gallery 
(click on each photo to enlarge)

Tanya Stephens 9 Mile Music Festival
Tanya Stephens
Capleton 9 Mile Music Festival
Iqulah Rastafari
Iqulah Rastafari

The Green

Julian Marley
Julian Marley
Stephen Marley
Stephen Marley


Damian Marley and son Elijah
Next Generation Marley taking over!
Damian Marley Miami
Damian Marley

Scenes from the 9Mile Music Festival

Press Play to view all photos form the 9Mile Music Festival 

Empress K is the Founder, Editor, and Primary Photo-Journalist of www.reggaereflection.com.  Reggae Reflection has gained international recognition providing quality coverage of premier reggae events in Jamaica, Canada, Trinidad and Tobago, Aruba, Barbados, Guyana, and Nigeria as well as numerous completed photography assignments  for notable  Reggae Events in the New England area, NY, Alabama, and Florida region.   Festival coverage has included Groovin In the Park, Six Flags NJ Caribbean Concert Series, IRAWMA, HangOut Festival Alabama, 9Mile Festival Miami, Rebel Salute, Sunfest FLReggae in the Hills and more. 

Rebel Salute 2015, The Preservation of Reggae Music

third world rebel saluteThird Word members Cat Coore, Richard Daley and AJ Brown
Will the Circle Be Unbroken?

Commentary & Photos by Sista Irie, Reggae Photojournalist 
Republished courtesy of Island-Stage

The Preservation of Reggae Music is much more than a noble cause, it is a national imperative. A country so overwhelmingly rich in talent and recognized the world over for its musical heritage, would only be foolish to not nourish the cultural legacy blessed upon them. Undeniably, Jamaica can use its cultural heritage to stabilize and enhance its society. This is one nation where many need the basics of life, including the opportunity to be successful and to advance as an international leader of influence reflected through the arts and creative industries.

Rebel Salute has grown into Jamaica’s most internationally acclaimed roots reggae music festival. What began as a birthday celebration for Tony Rebel, is now a global attraction, a cultural reflection of immense talent from past and current generations and a perfect blend of ‘all that is right’ with Jamaican music. Twenty six hours across the span of two nights, sixty artists including bands, singers and individually renown musical legends captivate a massive audience from dusk to dawn, an experience when night becomes day like the twinkling of a star. The vital importance of Rebel Salute, a stage show defining musical history from rising stars to historical legacies, goes far beyond entertainment. The quickening pace of the passing of reggae’s founding fathers has made festivals such as Rebel Salute a critical form of documentation and crucial to a future generation’s knowledge of their cultural identity.

This year’s featured headliners includes two bands that have made significant contributions to the quality and influence of reggae music for over thirty years. Third World and Inner Circle played major roles establishing a level of professionalism and creative sound leading to worldwide recognition for Jamaican music. Both have experienced the hurtful loss with the passing of their key singers, Bunny Ruggs from Third World and Jacob Miller of Inner Circle. The reality is their creative spirit cannot be broken and each continues the never ending circle of musical life. AJ Brown performing as lead singer for Third World along with the collaboration of Chronixx performing a remake of Jacob Miller’s Tenement Yard with Inner Circle was nothing short of genius, captivating and energizing the hope and future of reggae music in the hearts of the fans. The future shines bright for both bands and the circle will NOT be broken. Reggae music will continue to be parented and nurtured by the extreme talent of both old and young. What goes around eventually comes around.

chronixx Rebel SaluteChronixx
Roots reggae music known for it’s spiritually injected messages spiced with social commentary has shown it’s endurance over time. Slackness and degradation imposed in various cycles of Jamaican music may occasionally capture the attention of young people who have lost faith in a viable future. However, it is weak in sustainability. The slackness era of negativity is being currently replaced by a resurgence of creativity exemplified in the works of the Rasta youth as they bring forth the fruits of the past while influencing and guiding the heartbeat of the future. The circle cannot be broken once the intellectual tenets of spiritual fullness and self pride fills the gaps of mental vacancy and delivers a consciousness of determination and political militancy.

Some say ganja is the healing of the nation. In my opinion, Rastafari, the very culture shamelessly shunned and oppressed at the highest level by those hired to protect Jamaican culture, is the real healing of the nation. The spirituality of Rastafari is the key to a better world. The belief that ‘I and I’ is a relationship between oneself and the Creator, that unity is the law of life, that understanding one’s history leads to strength and self confidence and that love is the key to living life, are principles that promote peace and justice. There can be no better prophesy for the healing of the world. Salvation is ‘alive and well’ in the heart of Rastafari, and incorporated into prophetic guidance embedded in the music.

As Bob Marley once said:

“Herb is a plant”

“Herb is so good for everything. Why these people who want to do so much good for everyone, who call themselves government and this and that, why them say you must not use the herb? You see, them say you must not use the herb because it makes you rebel…….Against what?” If ganja releases one from mental slavery, then we must defiantly reveal the truth via rebel music. As we begin to experience decriminalization and legalization of ganja on a national and international level, the full circle brings us from a criminal perspective to the recognition of sacred medicinal healing. Roots reggae music will continue to be the avenue to administer and reveal the principles of Rastafari livity”.

Reggae music is the documentary of universal love and happiness. However, this message of love may sometimes be delivered with militancy. It is the voice of the people. The intellectual overstanding of reality and truth will always make it through as society can only take so much oppression and injustice before rebelling. The people will be heard and the obvious difference between right and wrong is clearly evident in the lyrics of roots reggae music. Good over evil will continue to prevail and the circle will remain unbroken.

The hard work of Tony Rebel, Flames Productions and his crew has contributed greatly to the forward movement and recognition of reggae music. In an interview with Tony on The Conscious Party, Tony reveals the intent of the festival is to establish a family event designed to highlight the best reggae has to offer while opening up opportunity to new rising talent. Tony works diligently behind the scenes promoting the critical need for government and corporate support of Jamaica’s cultural and artistic industries.

There were many incredible performances this year at Rebel Salute. Nearly every artist demonstrated the highest level of talent, maturity and professionalism. The rising stars assure us, the circle will remain unbroken, as they are developing wings of the future. A few performances that stood out from an amazing line-up include Inner Circle with a guest appearance by ChronixxThird World with new lead singer, AJ Brown, Jah9Queen IfricaFreddy McGregorJesse Royal and Kabaka Pyramid. Another reflective moment came with the release of balloons commemorating the passing of reggae greats such as Bunny Ruggs, Jacob Miller, and all who have been lost over the years. Luciano brings a sense of serene joy and love with the morning sun. Even after 12 hours running back and forth with a heavy camera, I was mesmerized by each performance and filled with the confidence that reggae is in good hands. The circle of love and music will continue to be the lifeline of the future. It will remain impenetrable.

Be sure to subscribe Island Stage Magazine which will feature more on Rebel Salute in the next issue!! www.island-stage.com/subscribe

Enjoy a selection of Rebel Salute Photos in the Gallery below. 

Images Rebel Salute 2015 © Sista Irie Photography


Photos & Highlights: 11th Annual Montreal International Reggae Festival 8/15 - 8/17

Story and Photography by Empress K (Reggae Reflection)  
PictureMaxi Priest
The 11th year of the Montreal International Reggae Festival (MIRF) officially kicked off on Friday, August 15th with Etana and Maxi Priest headlining the opening evening. I arrived as Maxi Priest was starting his set.  Maxi Priest's last performance at the Montreal Reggae festival was in 2006 so fans were eager to get their chance to see Maxi perform again.  On tour in support of his 2014 Easy to Love album release, he quickly won over the crowd performing old favorites, mixed with new favorites "Easy to Love" and "Holiday" from his new album.   Maxi in high spirits gave what some audience members referred to as an electrifying performance. Backed by his own band and accompanied on several songs by Beniton the Menace, a Jamaican American rapper, Maxi Priest steadily performed hit after hit for the enthusiastic fans.   The audience had a preview of Pinchers in advance of his appearance scheduled for Sunday when Maxi Priest called him to appear briefly as a surprise guest.  Towards the end of his set, Maxi Priest also included  a well received salute to Michael Jackson.  Overall, Maxi Priest's delivery of his unique blend of R&B and Reggae was a great conclusion to the opening night of the Montreal International Reggae Festival.

Taddy P on Bass Montreal
Taddy P on Bass
Maxi Priest Montreal
Maxi Priest
Beniton the Menace Montreal
Beniton the Menace
Sean Paul MontrealSean Paul
Day two of the event for at least as far as I can recall,  has been known as dancehall night.  This  year  MIRF again paid homage to the Soca lovers in the house with the line-up addition of Bajan Soca Queen, Alison Hinds.  Dancehall fans were entertained by up and coming Jamaican artist Kalado who kicked off the headliner portion of the day.   The afternoon sets from Kiprich and QQ kept the audience engaged as Kiprich called an audience member on stage for a "wine" contest and  both QQ and Kiprich made their way into the audience during their sets to greet fans in the general admission section.  As the evening started, DeMarco took to the stage followed by Alison Hinds, and Sean Paul backed by his own band  Badda Banz and the Badda Gyalz dancers.  Even the downpour of rain that increased in intensity during the later sets of the evening  could not contain the excitement of the crowd. Many young Sean Paul fans came early in the afternoon armed with umbrellas so they could secure a front row spot in the general admission area.   Allison Hinds had the crowd moving with her performance of Roll it Gal and Thundah.   Sean Paul's high energy set  closed out the evening as a sea of umbrellas swayed  to the infectious dancehall beats of Sean Paul's  popular songs such as I'm Still in LoveGimme the Light , and Temperature to new songs from Sean Paul's latest album Full Frequency.  

Montreal fans brave the rain to enjoy Day 2 of the Festival! 


Day 2 -  Soca and Dancehall performances 

QQ Montreal
Alison Hinds Montreal
Alison Hinds
Demarco Montreal
Kiprich Montreal
PictureMarcia Griffiths
For the final day of the festival, it was wonderful to wake up and see the sun shining! I carried an umbrella just in case, however no rain was going to interfere with my last full day in Montreal!   

The afternoon set of headliners was off to a great start when Pinchers entered the stage. Dressed in a stylish red suit and classic bad man style Fedora hat, Pinchers breezed thru his set which included fan favorite songs Enemies (Borderline), Champion Bubbler, and had the crowd singing along with his signature hit Bandolero. 

Looking regal and elegant in a flowing gown of the Jamaican colors of  yellow, green and black, Marcia Griffiths performed well known selections such as Dreamland, Feel Like Jumping and her trademark song and dance Electric Boogie (The Electric Slide). During her performance, a representative from the Consulate of Jamaica in Montreal in conjunction with Eric Blagrove, President of the MIRF presented Marcia Griffiths with a Life Time Achievement Award  for her outstanding music career spanning five decades. She proceeded to close out her set with her popular song No, No, No,  then  brought a living breath to the timeless Bob Marley classic, Redemption Song

I-Octane backed by the Ruff Kutt band  had the crowd in a frenzy as he performed crowd favorite songs including, Gyal a Gimme Bun  and Missing You Like Crazy. He also performed a substantial amount of his set off stage at the sound tent thrilling the audience in the general admission section with hits such as Love Di Vibe and was joined by Exco Levi for More than A Friend.  I-Octane continued to perform a powerful set as dusk transitioned into evening. 

Sanchez was up next  bringing his own band along.   Sanchez sang his classics such as Lonely Won't Leave me Alone, sampling a section of Pass the Kutchie and Live it Up with the audience members enthusiastically singing along.

Pinchers Montreal
Sanchez Montreal
I-Octane Montreal
Ruff Kutt returned to the stage once again to accompany the evening's headliner, Luciano.  The Messenger delivered an uplifting and spiritual finale to close out the 11th Annual Montreal International Reggae Festival. Luciano certainly made it up to the fans that were disappointed that he could not be on last year's festival by performing many songs that Luciano is known for including popular hits such as Messenger and Never Give up my Pride.  

Luciano Montreal
Montreal Reggae Festival audience
MIRF Audience on the Final Night of the Festival
Luciano Montreal

CKUT 90.3FMCKUT Staff interview Richard "Bugs" Burnett from the Montreal Gazette!
Throughout the weekend, DJs including Howard "Stretch" Carr, Pat Dillon, and Janice Dayle from Montreal's leading College Reggae radio station CKUT had a dedicated booth to stream live audio and interview artists after their performance.  A media tent also provided an opportunity to photograph and interview most of the artists. 

Alison Hinds
Alison Hinds
Montreal International Reggae Festival Entrance to MIRF
Last year the Montreal International Reggae Festival reached a milestone anniversary for its tenth year.   Keeping up with the tradition of making the festival bigger and better each year, the Montreal International Reggae Festival proved that once again as the festival has evolved into a premiere destination Reggae Festival.   As always, I am looking forward to see what's in store for next year! 

This year I have included tips on traveling to Montreal.  See our tips below in the Destination Montreal section. 

Press Play to view the  full Slide Show of Photos from The Montreal Reggae Festival

Destination Montreal! 

Old Port Montreal
Tips on traveling from the US 

How to get there

By Car -  Montreal is approximately 1 1/2 hours from  Burlington, VT, 5 1/2 hours from Boston, and 6 hours from NYC.   

From points North , head towards Burlington, VT.  I drive Route 89 from Bow, NH alll the way to the Canadian Border in Highgate Springs, VT.   Exit 21 in Swanton has a few gas stations and convenience stores. It is advisable to fill your tank there before crossing the border. 

By Bus:   Greyhound has service to Montreal. Check online for other services to Montreal. 

By Air:  International flights arrive at the Montreal-Pierre Elliot Trudeu International Airport which is 20 kilometers (12 miles)  from the location of the Montreal Reggae Festival in the Old Port of Montreal. 

At the Border:    If you are a US Citizen, you must have your US passport with you.  If you are a US Permanent Resident bring your green card and appropriate valid passport.  Check Canada.usembassy.gov/traveling_to_canada.html for specific info on traveling to Canada. 

Where to stay:   Montreal has countless places to stay in and outside of the city.  Familiar hotel chains are common throughout Montreal.  Staying just outside the city is less expensive than staying in downtown Montreal, although the ambiance of staying in downtown Montreal has a lot to offer. This year the "Those Travel Bugz" travel team offered packages combining hotel accommodations and  festival tickets.  Check the MIRF website for more information. montrealinternationalreggaefestival.com/travel-accommodation

What to Bring / Wear:  Check the weather forecast and be prepared for anything!  Typically the weather is quite warm in mid August, however it can be cooler  in the evening.  When rain is in the forecast make sure to have a rain poncho and umbrella on hand.  Bring lots of sunscreen, shades, a hat,  smart phone (my US AT&T service worked great - just remember to turn your mobile data off before you cross the border to a avoid international data charges), and Canadian cash for the food and merchandise vendors.  Outside of the festival grounds, there are banks and businesses in town that take debit / credit cards.  You will not be able to bring any food or drinks into the festival. There are many food and beverage vendors within the festival grounds and you will be able to come and go from the festival .  Each time you enter the festival you will have to go through the security checkpoint. 

Currency and Credit Card Transaction Fees:  Before you leave home it is best to convert some money into Canadian currency.  While many places will accept American dollars, the exchange rate is not always favorable and they will charge you extra to convert the currency.    If you need more money once you are in Canada, you can use your bank ATM card at most of the Candian banks.  Normal bank fees apply and they will automatically calculate the exchange rate and disburse funds in Canadian dollars. 

In addition to the local banks, there are many stores in downtown Montreal that specialize in currency exchange for a small fee. 

Before you leave, check with your credit card company to inquire if there is an additional surcharge to use your credit card in Canada and let them know you will be traveling.  Most companies have an extra 3 - 5% charge per transaction.  I discovered that my American Express card did not have a surcharge, however I also found out that many places only accept Master Card  or Visa. 

Language:  The official language of Montreal, Quebec is French, however in Montreal the majority of people that I have encountered speak English as well and it has never been an issue for me in the 30 + years that I have been traveling to Montreal. 

Area Activities:  There is so much to see and do in Montreal and the surrounding areas. If you can stay for a few more days it will be well worth your visit.  http://www.tourisme-montreal.org

Most of all enjoy your Montreal experience and come back again soon! 
Empress K is the Founder, Editor, and Primary Photo-Journalist of www.reggaereflection.com.  Reggae Reflection has gained international recognition providing quality coverage of premier reggae events in Jamaica, Canada, Trinidad and Tobago, Aruba, Barbados, Guyana, and Nigeria as well as numerous completed photography assignments  for notable  Reggae Events in the New England area, NY, Alabama, and Florida region.   Festival coverage has included Groovin In the Park, Six Flags NJ Caribbean Concert Series, IRAWMA, HangOut Festival Alabama, 9Mile Festival Miami, Rebel Salute, Sunfest FLReggae in the Hills and more. 

Modern Day History at The Apollo Theater for the One Love! Bob Marley Tribute - Photos & Story

Story and Photography by Empress K (Reggae Reflection)  
PictureApollo Theater Marquis
While I was no where near NYC when Bob Marley made his historic debut at the Apollo Theater 35 years ago in October of 1979, I  realized recently I was meant to be there for this special Bob Marley Tribute. Let me digress for a moment.  It’s been somewhat of an emotional year for me. My mom passed away in July after a short illness and I arranged to have her graveside service a month later on August 27th in her home state of Maine.   It was a beautiful small celebration of her life with people representing every aspect of her 85 years including grade school classmates, high school friends and residents in her hometown.  Before returning home to the Boston area, I spent the afternoon in the Old Port section of Portland shopping with my cousin who I found out not too long ago actually attended a Bob Marley concert with 4th row center seats in Boston in 1980!  As we browsed in some of the stores,  a random sighting caught my eye.  It was a replica of an old Bob Marley poster. I looked it over and since the photo of Bob was not that clear I hesitated and put it back.  We proceeded to have lunch and shop a bit more.  As my cousin and I were about to say our goodbyes, I felt compelled to go back to the store with her and buy the Bob Marley poster, fuzzy picture and all.

Fast forward a couple months. I’ve become aware of the Apollo Theater Bob Marley Tribute in NY and immediately decide I will be there for this classic Reggae show right after Thanksgiving. I’ve always wanted to go to the Apollo Theater and this is a perfect opportunity. Thanksgiving morning comes around which is exactly three months to the day of my mom’s service and I am posting online about the upcoming show. All of a sudden, a lightbulb goes off in my head.  Where is that poster that I bought and what show was it?  I locate the poster quickly and sure enough I find that it indeed is a replica poster of a Bob Marley Apollo Theater show in 1979. The month is off, but everything else about the poster is eerily reminiscent of the current flyer design minus the fuzzy photo!   Apparently my universe knew I would be going to this show in NY before I did!

1979 Replica Bob Marley 
Apollo Theater Poster 


2014 Bob Marley Tribute 
Apollo Theater Poster


Reggae Ambassadors - Third World takes the stage

Third World Band at the ApolloThird World Band kicks of the evening
The show was nothing short of historic. Keeping with the schedule of the original Bob Marley debut, there were two shows on the same evening. The 8:00pm show which I attended sold out in advance and the 11:00pm sold out shortly thereafter. The Apollo Theater was everything I imagined it to be; a beautiful theater which has obviously been restored to its original glory. 

 The world renowned Reggae Ambasadors, Third World, kicked off the evening appropriately with their popular hit of the same name.  Their charismatic singer A. J. Brown taking on the new lead vocals role did not miss a beat as Third World continued  their set with other classic songs such as 96 Degrees in the Shade and Try Jah Love.  

Cat Coore - Cello Solo 'Redemption Song'
Cat Coore, Richard Daley, AJ Brown
Stephen “Cat” Coore performed a beautiful Cello solo rendition of Redemption Song  and they had everyone on their feet dancing when they performed their hit Now That We’ve Found Love.  Special guest Maxi Priest joined them on stage and performed two Bob Marley classics,  Jammin and Turn your Lights Down Low much to the audience’s delight. 
Cat Coore

The Wailers celebrate with Ky-mani Marley

PictureThe Wailers
Next up was The Wailers featuring Aston "Family Man" Barrett on bass.  Barrett, an original member of The Wailers was present for the 1979 debut performance.  Dwayne Anglin provided lead vocals as the band performed a tight set of songs including  No more Trouble, Exodus, and Heathen among others.   

PictureKy-mani Marley
Ky-Mani Marley making a not so common appearance in NYC was definitely a highlight of the set performing two of his father’s songs. It was beautiful to see Ky-mani perform in front of the giant Bob Marley backdrop overlooking the stage.  Surely Ky-mani was making his father proud during his brilliant performance of  I Shot the Sheriff and Crazy Baldheads.

Surprise Guest Lauryn Hill thrills the audience 

When the stage crew brought out a few more mics, I’m sure members of the audience were wondering who else was going to come out since all the special guests had already made their appearance. Well, the audience was in for a special surprise!  Lauryn Hill was announced and the fans excitedly rushed to the stage when Lauryn appeared with her three supporting vocalists. Lauryn looking exquisite in a long black and white ensemble with a matching wide brim black hat was spot on with her performance of Zimbabwe followed by Is this Love

One Love Finale

PictureOne Love Finale
The evening ended on a perfect note with a grand finale of everyone back on stage singing One Love.  The One Love! Tribute to Bob Marley certainly made for another historical night at the Apollo Theater.  I’m sure my mom was happy I was there to witness this modern day history.  It was meant to be! 

Tis the Season - Scenes from 125th Street in Harlem

Press Play to view all images in Slideshow below

Empress K is the Founder, Editor, and Primary Photo-Journalist of www.reggaereflection.com.  Reggae Reflection has gained international recognition providing quality coverage of premier reggae events in Jamaica, Canada, Trinidad and Tobago, Aruba, Barbados, Guyana, and Nigeria as well as numerous completed photography assignments  for notable  Reggae Events in the New England area, NY, Alabama, and Florida region.   Festival coverage has included Groovin In the Park, Six Flags NJ Caribbean Concert Series, IRAWMA, HangOut Festival Alabama, 9Mile Festival Miami, Rebel Salute, Sunfest FLReggae in the Hills and more.