New Reggae & Dancehall Generation Set Up Shop Vol2 Tour: Madison Wisconsin Review & Photos

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

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
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