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Kaya Fest 2018 (Chapter 2)

Kaya Fest 2018 (Chapter 2)

Kaya Fest 2018 (Chapter 2)

By on - Photos by Lee Abel - Comment

Commemorating the 40th Anniversary of Bob Marley’s Kaya Album.

At last, my first chance to photograph all 5 of the musical Marley brothers together on stage since 2004! My, how they and their family has grown. Bob Marley, perhaps the world’s most recognizable musical icon, continues to inspire generations, among them his own talented offspring. His legend continues, with roots and branches spreading ever wider.

The two-day music festival was held in Southern California in the unlikely town of San Bernadino. Fans didn’t mind the drive though, and came in higher numbers than had been anticipated. Vendors rushed to buy more food as they gazed out at the long lines of hungry, happy people.

Stephen Marley’s idea was to bring his family and musical guests together, commemorate the 40th anniversary of his father’s Kaya album, and educate the public about the benefits of marijuana, from medical to industrial, as well as the new California law. A free public symposium held the day before the festival entitled “Education Before Recreation” clarified the State’s legalization of cannabis for recreational use effective January 1, 2018.

We were keenly aware of Bob’s presence. Huge historical photos of him splashed on the screen behind his sons, arms extended high to encourage peace at the One Love Peace Concert in Kingston 1978, arms spread wide, appearing to wrap around his children. The obvious joy onstage amongst the brothers was palpable, spreading like an electric current of peace, love, and togetherness.

Stephen put together a wide variety of acts but, make no mistake, we all came to see the brothers. Plus, we got the chance to see other legends, including Marcia Griffiths, Toots and the Maytals, Third World, and Inner Circle, along with younger artists moving reggae today, including Chronixx, SOJA, Kabaka Pyramid, and Common Kings. Adding spice to the reggae mix was the Puerto Rican flavor of Yandel and Zion Y Lennox, Action Bronson’s rap, Bambaata Marley’s fusion, and the classic hip hop of Cypress Hill. We even got to enjoy an amazing classical performance from AJ Brown of Third World, accompanied by Cat Coore on the cello, singing Con Te Partico (made famous by Andrea Bocelli). And, of course, people came to see Ms. Lauryn Hill, who closed the festival on Sunday night. Sadly, her set was very short due to technical difficulties that caused the event to run up against a time curfew.

In front of the stage, festival goers danced, shopped and relished the vibe, pushing towards the stage when one of their favorites played. Behind the stage, sequestered in a huge building that held many tour buses circled around a lovely open area with an active child-size ping pong table, 4 generations of Marleys enjoyed a special family reunion.

As the brothers opened their set, bouncing together from the back to the front of the stage, Ziggy said “We want to thank brother Stephen “Ragga” Marley for bringing us together here at Kaya Fest tonight”. My sentiment exactly!

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