Mon | Apr 22, 2019

The fire blazes at Bob Marley Museum

Published:Friday | February 8, 2019 | 9:53 AM
From left: Naomi Cowan shares the stage with Lila Ike and Sevana.
From left: Naomi Cowan shares the stage with Lila Ike and Sevana.

The fire blazed inside the Bob Marley Museum on Hope Road in St Andrew on Wednesday night as musicians, performers and a capacity audience embodied the ‘Catch a Fire’ theme for this year’s celebration of the birthday of the reggae legend.

It was one of those events where persons of every colour in the crayon box rubbed shoulders, smoked a spliff, or just inhaled the fumes which permeated the air. The 74th birthday of Bob Marley was a jam session the reggae icon would have been proud of, and there are many who will swear that Bob was present, if only in the spirit.

While it was an all-day event, the concert, which started at 3 p.m., featured an early line-up which left space for a slew of impromptu performances by emerging acts. Among those who made an impact while the sun was still up were Macka Lion and Binghi – a duo comprising an elder Rastaman and a younger version of himself, dressed in identical garments from head to toe. Their songs celebrated the fact that what was once looked down on as ‘boogo-yagga music’ has taken over. The musical city of Trench Town, where Bob Marley had deep roots, was well represented by the Mau Mau Warriors, who pledged to keep the fire burning.

The later evening saw worthy performances from roots singer Tuff Like Iron, a young Rastafarian whose parents are from St Vincent but who was raised in the United States; Rockas Element, a trio of Rasta youth from Spanish Town; singer Bescenta; saxophonist Jadore; and 5 Star, a Caucasian Rastafarian artiste from St Lucia.

Among the standout performers was Bob’s friend, musician and walking historian Bongo Herman. In true Bongo style, he had the audience in a trance with chants of “Babylon, you throne gone down”, after which he performed a few popular reggae songs, including Sugar Minott’sMr. DC, unpacked his bag of ancient musical instruments, and regaled the crowd with the history of each one.

stage takeover

Bob Marley 74th birthday ambassador Naomi Cowan took over the stage a few minutes after 9 p.m., with the Legacy Band and after two songs, generously shared her time with her friends Sevana and Lika Ike. All three made quite an impression. They were followed by Rastafarian aggregation Notis Heavaweight Rockas, who later made way for Koffee.

The rising star’s presence centre stage was heralded with quite a bit of fanfare, for which the young artiste proved worthy. With no long talking, Koffee did what she was supposed to do – and that was all her fans needed to catch a fire. Cell phones permeated the air as her fans tried to immortalise every moment of her 20-minute set, which ended with her biggest hit to date – Toast.

Her exit was the cue for the heavyweight section to begin, and among these headliners were the Fireman Capleton, who led a tribe of David House Rastas inside the venue shortly after 10 p.m., Nadine Sutherland, and Richie Spice.

Thirty-eight years after his death, Robert Nesta ‘Bob’ Marley continues to make a global impact, and social media was on fire Wednesday with tributes from persons of all ages, including his children and grandchildren, though none was present at the local celebration. The theme, ‘Catch a Fire’, paid tribute to the 1973 critically acclaimed album of the same name, which is said to have positioned Bob Marley and the Wailers as a force on the world stage and lit the flame which ignited the world’s love for reggae music.