Photography by Rock ‘N’ Robins
After all, he did six dates in the colorful state!! Island Stage was blessed to have covered 3 of them.
Durango, Colorado 3.5.19
The 7th stop on the Stephen Marley Acoustic Jams Tour took place at the Community Concert Hall in Durango, Colorado. While stellar staple in the Ganjarado reggae scene Emcee Rasta Stevie was CONQUERING in Reno, special guest Koral Delatierra of Niceness (out of Telluride) opened with Bassie on keyboard and Mikey G on the conga. With this simplistic arrangement, Niceness delivered a performance imbued with harmonies and heartfelt originals (including one in Spanish) that emphasize mindfulness, respect, love, and harmony.
The theatre curtains were drawn closed for a brief interval and then reopened, revealing players seated with their instruments. It was a casual setting with fog wafting across the stage, adding an element of the mystical. A large portrait of Haile Selassie I was displayed in the background above an immense golden lion’s head with glowing red eyes. Stephen Marley walked out, smiled, greeted the crowd with a wave and took his place center stage with a djembe.
The unwavering rumble of the thunder Nyabinghi bass drum (Squidly Cole) added another level of crucial intensity to Stephen’s polyrhytmic and complex drumming style. To Marley’s right sat Ranoy Gordon on guitar and Nicholas Laraque on flute, both contributing to the soulful resonance in the atmosphere; shrouded in fog and partial darkness, keyboardist Riff Raff and bassist Christopher Meredith still managed to shine!
The set began with “Small Axe” and “Rainbow Country”, immediately moving the crowd with that familiar and distinctively “Marley” sound. Sequeing into popular originals such as “Iron Bars” and “Mind Control”, there was a nice exchange amongst the entire ensemble as Stephen would play the guitar or djembe and Laraque alternated between the saxophone and flute.
After taking to his feet for his rendition of “Jungle Love”, Stephen told the audience he was going to give them “a little bit of a little bit of something”. The crowd being gratified with this “little bit” resulted in a burst of whistles, applause, and shouts for more, leading, of course, to an encore. It was a remarkable night permeated with positivity. Seemingly instinctively incorporating cultural elements of mento and calypso, Stephen Marley provides a unique experience of modern and authentic roots reggae.
With musical excellence as the backdrop for making new friends and getting acquainted with old ones, it was a night of reminiscing as well as looking forward to that which is to come.
Next up, The Fox Theater in Boulder 3.8.19
Before the Fox Theatre in Boulder became a popular concert hall, the building was home to a number of entrepreneurial ventures. The Rialto was built in 1926 on 13th Street, for the purpose of showing moving pictures, according to the business license granted.
It’s history is rich, and it has been used for many purposes, mainly for the arts. In 1991 a group announced plans to lease the property and remodel the interior for a nightclub featuring national musical acts. Although neighbors voiced complaints that a club with alcohol would bring traffic, noise and crime to the Hill, the investors prevailed and secured a liquor license by unanimous vote. The Fox Theatre as a premier concert venue began in 1992. It’s been showcasing live music and contributing to the vitality of the Hill ever since. Stephen Marley has performed at The Fox several times in past years.
We arrived at The Fox on Friday, 3.8.19 to a sold out show. It was raining slightly, and although Colorado is oh high avalanche alert, that stopped no one!
The venue accommodated us very nicely, by seating us directly behind the lighting board where Nesta Garrick proceeded to work his magic! For those who may not know Nesta, he is the son of Neville Garrick, who was Bob Marley’s art director and long time friend. Creativity runs in the family!
Around 9 PM, Nicholas Laraque (Flute and Saxophone), Chris Meredith )(bass guitar), Squidly Cole (nyabinghi bass drum), Ranoy Gordon (guitar), Riff Raff (keys) took the stage delivering a beautiful intro to Stephen’s entrance.
From start to finish, the show was one of the best we have ever seen! The sound, the harmonies, the lighting, all of it! One of my favorite moments, and for me really set the tone, was when Stephen sat down and the lion head behind him was illuminated. You have to see it, to feel the vibration of it all. The music? Well, it’s Stephen Marley music!!
Ft. Collins 3.9.19
Washington’s is the newly christened venue as of February 3, 2018. As such not only did the developers create an environment that facilitates maximum enjoyment of the artist at the venue; but every detail from the beautiful dressing rooms and the lighting console to the treatment of Mr. Marley‘s guests and the accommodation and consideration of the security team was top-notch.
This set up the show for a maximum vibe. Mr. Marley was as ever, strong, confident, spiritual and sincere. His joy at being able to offer a different twist, an elevated Reggae with a spotlight on classically trained Nicholas Laraque on the flute and saxophone, created an unexpected higher vibration. It was complicated, engaging, unexpected, and soothing at the same time.
This was not simply a dance and feel good show – this was also an expression of power beginning with the very first song: Small Axe. The agony of Iron Bars, the injustice and humor of Traffic Jam, the sadness of She’s Gone and the upliftment and consoling nature of It’s Alright were each heightened by the acoustic vibe.
Every song in between vibrated so much power, love, and truth that this sold out crowd swayed and danced all night, rejoicing in Rock It Baby, dancing to Jammin, and committing to Jah Army. The Fox, at 500 seats is much more close and intimate.
But Washington’s, with its superior no-bad-place-to-stand and it’s 900 capacity hall also sold out, was a magical experience as well. Then again I imagine that anywhere Stephen Marley plays something magical happens. Don’t miss the magic of this acoustic tour.
The tour moved on to Beaver Creek on 3.10 and Aspen on 3.11 and resumes in Las Vegas on 3.13. Get your tickets! You don’t want to miss #AcousticJamsTour