Bob Marley Birthday Tribute / Feb. 9, 2008 / New York (B.B. Kings)
B.B. King's was transformed in celebration of reggae icon Bob Marley's birthday as a dense, diverse crowd bounced to the familiar beats.B.B. King's was transformed in celebration of reggae icon Bob Marley's birthday as a dense, diverse crowd bounced to the familiar beats. College kids, soccer moms and, of course, dreadlocked fans in red, green and gold moved close to the stage for the High Times Cannabis Cup band's main set.
“Reggae is a musical form that easily cuts across cultural barriers, because peace and love is its universal message.” said G. Moses, a drummer for the CCB. “Bob Marley was the first international Third World superstar, and his music appealed to people of all cultures and ethnicities.”
The 12-year-old band has headlined freedom rallies, reggae festivals and even performed with acts like George Clinton and Rita Marley, but this annual Tribute Concert is a tradition for them. The show provides an opportunity to play everything from classics like “One Love” and “Jammin’” to more esoteric tunes such as “War” – a politically fueled anthem that contains lyrics taken from a 1960s speech made by Ethiopian emperor Hailie Selassie I.
The golden glow of the spotlights illuminated the stage area just enough, while front crowd members hopped around with their arms outstretched as the drum solo of “Iron Lion Zion” reverberated, marking the climax of the second part of the set.
Later in the evening, the group’s main vocalists embraced some of Marley’s more melodic love songs. “Turn Your Lights Down Low” stands out as a prime example; the singers molded it into their own style just as Lauryn Hill did just a few years ago.
The music mellowed out to a close just after midnight, leaving only the most loyal fans squinty-eyed and swaying, but all who had attended seemed to savor the evening's selection of some of Tuff Gong’s finest work.