I woke up to the chants of Nyabingi on the radio. Irie fm is already reporting live from the Bob Marley Museum. Today's is Bob's 71th Birthday. Place to be today is 56 Hope Road. If you're in Kingston that is. There are celebrations in several parts of the island. Yesterday was the big One Love Music Festival the Marley family put on in Rose Hall near Montego Bay. The entrance at the gate for this one night show, by the way, is 80 USD. The celebrations in Negril are held at the lawn at MX3.
But we're in Kingston, so off to the museum. I made sure not to go too early because I expected it to be a long night. When we arrived at 5pm the celebrations where in full effect. The whole thing has a somewhat corporate feel to it, it's a heavily sponsored event. On the radio I have been hearing interviews with the sponsor who all call today a win-win partnership; their brand and Bob Marly. But inside the venue the vibes are alright.
I meet up with people I know from previous visits. The audience is a mix of local and (a whole lot of) tourists. Not too many big artists are performing this year. I enjoy the performances of Iba Mahr and Jessy Royal. The artist of the moment, Chronixx, is standing in the audience but I had rather seen him on stage. When Skip -the next generation of- Marley begins his set at about 11.30 pm, we start walking along Hope Road to the Ranny Williams Entertainment Center for Errol Dunkley's Birthday Bash. Have a look at the picture gallery to get a feel of what the celebrations were like
Hardly any tourists in the amphitheater of Ranny Williams Entertainment Center for Errol Dunkley's Birth Day Bash. The venue is packed to capacity however. How the music sounds sweet: crisp and clear, the bass well rounded. A mature audience showed up to see a mature set of artists. When we reached at around midnight Leroy Sibbles just got off stage. It's time for the Birthday Boy himself, Errol Dunkley, to go through some of his catalogue. Black Cinderella, Your love is amazing, OK Fred, are just some Dunkley's classics sounding wonderful tonight. After his set Errol, dressed in full red, invites several women on stage for the cutting of a huge birth day cake.
After the performance of Pam Hall, Big Youth and Freddie MecGreggor perform on stage together. Pure musical enjoyment. The crowd responses accordingly.
Ken Booth is next, singing some of his sweet songs with his golden voice. Then over to the Colonel, Josey Wales and to General Trees, both with energetic and comic sets. I was waiting in anticipation to hear Frankie Paul tonight. Frankie Paul has had serious health issues in the past and recently his foot had to be removed. But that voice! ah aaaaww.. I am not your cassanova, me and Romeo have never been friends... Sarah, storms operate in your eyes...pure magic. Carl Dawkings and Edi Fitsroy pass through with their hit songs, as well as unexpected guest Egg Nog.
What is remarkable about this Birth Day Bash is that there are way more people here than for instance Wednesday at the free Reggae Month Reggae Wednesday shows, whereas this is a show with a JMD 1500 entrance fee. Then again, a reggae artists's Birth Day Bash is the type of event Jamaican reggae fans come out for. Have a look at Reggaetourist's How To Party section for a typology of Jamaican reggae events. Anyhow, at 3.30 pm showtime is over and we are enjoying the DJ's last tunes on the superb sound system. A taxi takes us to our appartment but the driver hasn't got any change for my JMD 1000 so we have to drive to a vendor to buy a beer and get change. A car pulls up and the driver is Harry Toddler, a wicked dancehall artist who thought me in the late nineties that bad man nuh dress like girl. Nothing special, this is Kingston after all. Off to bed, tomorrow's the Digicel Bob Marley show in Sabina park.