Sunday, February 24, 2008

Bob Marley Day in San Francisco

Yesterday at the 27th Annuak Tribute to Reggae Legends in San Francisco, the weather and pending storm didn't turn folks away from what is certainly a Bay Area tradition: Bob Marley Day. The last stop on a multiple California city tour, beginning in Long Beach, the San Francisco show had less headliners than it did two years, even four years ago, but Gregory Issacs with Live Wyya, Anthony B., Midnite, the Aggrolites and Soul Majestic were plenty. Alpha Blondy and Barrington Levy who canceled would have been nice to see. However, the addition of Eek-a-Mouse as closing headliner was like two for one. No one seemed to mind and the place was packed until the very last number. There were no women band leaders or lead singers featured in San Francisco, though Queen Ifrica and Cherine Anderrson were featured in the San Diego concert stop.

It was the usual running around, even though I'd promised myself I'd sit in my seat and just watch, who can resist getting so close to the stage one can see the perspiration form on an artist's face? Not I, so I wasn't able to take notes, but I got great shots of Isaacs, Anthony B, and Eek-a-Mouse and a great interview back stage with Live Wyya, a younger ensemble who are keeping the revolutionary flame burning.

The concert felt more laid back and cool. The more important looking press, those with heavy video cameras, three and four lens swinging from their necks and of course the all-access bracelet, we independent media didn't have on. Some black reporters who were tired of the hoops, boycotted the concert, but my cousin Wyldflour from Chicago bought me a ticket and so I was going to be there regardless and as I said, I had a lot of fun.

Anthony B. was my favorite artist. His lyrics were conscious and covered topics like police brutality, ganja, and revolutionaries. Hi band was tight and his two women back-up singers were great as well. He jumped around the stage--full of energy. But all the performers were. I was surprised when he announced a campaign to get the Jamaican government to recognized Bob Marley as a national hero, which to date, hasn't happened. I wouldn't have believed this was so considering the stadium named in his honor in Kingston, stamp, and the monument status of his home in Trench town.

Gregory Issacs has been in the business so long, it was name that tune as the fans waited for him to begin their favorite song. I found myself saying, I know that one. Oh, I didn't know he wrote that one. My friend wanted to know why he cut a song from his favorite album--something about a Red Rose, short. The Aggronauts who proceeded Isaacs were so energetic, especially their organist. The group played a selection of oldies but Reggae goodies, plus many original songs. And I just love those Midnite brothers--one on vocals, the other on guitar. They followed Isaacs and I followed them. It's like trance. I could listen to them all day long, the groove they set is so pleasant.

Eek-a-Mouse's voice is a showstopper. I don't remember any of the lyrics, just when he'd slip into "the voice." No matter how often it happened, I never got used to the sound. Dressed very dapper: sports jacket, slacks, complete with hat. As the stage heated up, the jacket came off.

I don't remember seeing as many babies before. There were a lot of little babies, plus kids under 10 in the house. Seated in front of me, there were three adults and two kids. On the main floor a mother danced with her child. Two other parents played with their infant before getting up and walking around. I could imagine people meeting at the Ragga Muffin Festival and then letting the concert be like a bi-annual anniversary celebration, each year as the family grew, so would the entourage.


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