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Marley's birthday, first Reggae Wednesday, a good fit

Published:Saturday | February 9, 2013 | 12:00 AM
Fabian Marley -Photo by Curtis Campbell
Ras Michael (standing) and the Sons of Negus.-photo by Derrick A. Scott

Davina Henry, Staff Reporter

Bob Marley's 68th birthday was a fitting day to begin Reggae Wednesdays.

Held at the Emancipation Park, patrons, well aware of the theme,'From Mento to Marley', were taken on a historical journey, which marked the influences and beginnings of Jamaica's music.

Kicking off the month-long celebrations, to be held every Wednesday in Emancipation Park, anticipation was high as Rastafarians, foreigners and locals could be seen rocking along to the music.

An event produced by the Jamaica Reggae Industry Association (JaRIA), Reggae Wednesdays was initially held at the Edna Manley School of the Visual and Performing Arts but had to move to accommodate a larger audience.

The Jamaica Symphony Orchestra, conducted by John Williams, had patrons rocking along to instrumental renditions of Bob Marley's Exodus and Redemption Song.

no disappointment

Mystic Revelation of Rastafari were up next and the cultural drummers did not disappoint. Chanting songs such as Carnal Mind, the drummers had young and old on their feet.

The Edna Manley String ensemble, conducted by Peter Ashbourne, delivered a stellar performance.

Along with the night's entertainment, Cooper and Isis also gave patrons historical facts about the different eras in Jamaica's music history as the night progressed.

The Energy Plus mento band had audience members on their feet, dancing to their musical stylings. Those who weren't standing, were swaying in their seats to old favourites, including Goosey and Nobody's Business.

The era of ska was on show next and the Winston 'Sparrow' Martin-led Ska Rebirth was brilliant.

The nine-member group, whose ages range from 23 to 26 (with the exception of Sparrow), also had the crowd dancing along to their rendition of Bob Marley's Simmer Down.

Sparrow also showcased his dancing ability and his ska moves across the stage.

It was, however, Ras Michael and the Sons of Negus that stole the show. Heralding his arrival with the roaring of a lion, Ras Michael was in a league of his own.

Long-time favourites, including None a Jah Jah Children Nuh Cry, New Name and Birds In The Sky were songs from the rocksteady era.

Chanting 'Jah' throughout his set and earning the reply 'Rastafari' from the audience, Ras Michael and his band, known for their nyabinghi drumming also earned 'rock-alongs'.

Closing out his set with a medley of songs, including Babylon You Throne Gone Down and Redemption Song, Ras Michael and the Sons of Negus were definitely a hit.

As the theme suggests, it was only fitting for a Marley to close the show.

Fabian Marley took to the stage to much applause. Covering some of his father's most legendary hits, Marley excited the audience with his performance.

As patrons began filing out of the park, some commented that the first staging of Reggae Wednesdays was a success.