Reggae Royalty on King Street!  Ziggy Marley in Madison, Wisconsin

Reggae Royalty on King Street!  Ziggy Marley in Madison, Wisconsin.

Story and photos by Xavier LeBlanc, Reggae Reflection Correspondent.  Feature by Empress K  – Founder & Editor

Ziggy Marley

On a refreshingly natural summer August night, a musical trailblazer and reggae icon arrived in the heart of Madison, Wisconsin. The legendary singer Ziggy Marley attracted a capacity crowd during the latest stop in the “Fly Rasta” tour which celebrates his newest album of the same name. Quickly becoming an instant classic, the critically acclaimed Tuff Gong Worldwide release has topped Billboard’s Reggae charts several times consecutively . In 2013 Ziggy also earned his second solo Best Reggae Album Grammy and sixth Grammy overall. This concert in particular coincides with the free summer concert series “Live on King Street”. The Madison city King street was closed to accommodate an outdoor stage near the Majestic Theater and massive audience filled with thousands of fans. All directly centered with a magnificent view of the Wisconsin State Capitol building and the vista was undoubtedly worthy of the occasion. 

Well in advance before the show’s start, the designated crowd area was already overfilled as fans clamored for a spot to watch the global renowned artist. Anticipation, excitement and small clouds of smoke from herb enthusiasts filled the air as eager multitudes made their elation known while Ziggy Marley climbed the stage. The musician calmly picked up his elegant custom guitar with a soft smile as he prepared to deliver positive vibrations and share beloved compositions with his passionate fans. Accompanying him onstage was his talented band which included Ian ‘Beezy’ Coleman, Takeshi Akimoto, Chantelle Ernandez,  Tracy Hazzard and others. The sound of the initial string being played cued the stage lights’ illumination as immense cheers were heard. He then charismatically told the crowd “Love is today’s rebellion. Too much anger and hate is in the world anyways you know. So let us make love become the rebel”. This provided a smooth transition to the opening lyrics of his popular hit song “Love is My Religion”. His unmistakably unique vocals carried the audience and the band performed in great harmony complimenting Ziggy’s trademark sounds. The enthusiasm and warmly inviting spirit of the song was palpable.

Photos of Ziggy Marley “Live on King Street”

Ziggy Marley delivers a majestic performance 

Majestic Theatre King Street

The closely aligned layout of the street, stage and buildings gave way to a very intimate and warm experience as the band seemingly played directly to the heart of carefree fans with another notable record, the upbeat “Wild and Free”. The mood quickly reflected within movements of the crowd swaying their arms back and forth joyously. Live renditions from his new “Fly Rasta” album included a mellow but heartfelt performance of the well received already popular song “I Don’t Want To Live On Mars” with its non-traditional diversely laced sounds. Fans followingly bobbed their heads to the rock elements as the high spirited singer sang the track’s Earthly themed tunes with great zeal.

A pleasant ode to Ziggy’s early musical career came when he performed the classic 1988 Melody Makers’ song “Conscious Party” which was originally part of his family band’s third album release of the same name. Toward the second half of the song the stage band elevated the energy even further as members of the group moved across the stage dancing traditionally with great vibrancy to the rhythms of the live instruments and original drum sounds. 

Fully inhabiting the positive mood Ziggy often closed his eyes and seemingly lost himself musically to the instrumental notes instinctively as he performed his iconic father Bob Marley’s timeless hit “Could You Be Loved”.  Meanwhile, atop the surrounding building structures, fans could be seen on rooftops and open windows dancing along blissfully to this and other undeniably uplifting song performances. Not often does a performer elevate and unite entire city streets like Ziggy did during his unforgettable concert.

After a brief intermission Ziggy returned to the stage to provide the audience with a taste of his currently most recognized single “Fly Rasta” energetically delivering the catchy chorus while playing drums by hand. A fitting second half to the performance was met with spurred levels of enthusiasm and boosted applause as his smallest children joined him to finish the performance. His smallest son Abraham Marley was given a small microphone as he danced with a natural exuberance nearly matching his father’s own. The spirit of positively great music is clearly embraced wholeheartedly within this legendary family of gifted talents led by Ziggy Marley.

Special thanks to Michelle for making our coverage of this amazing concert possible. 

Xavier LeBlanc is an experienced media professional currently producing, writing and filming media coverage of national entertainment events. 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

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