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Stephen Marley returns to N.O.

18th July 2016   ·   0 Comments

By Geraldine Wyckoff
Contributing Writer

Eight-time Grammy winner, vocalist, guitarist, composer and producer, Stephen “Raga” Marley, the second son of the legendary and inspirational Bob Marley, thankfully makes a stop on Sunday, July 24, in New Orleans as part of his The Fruit of Life Summer Tour. He returns to the House of Blues, a venue he’s played as both a member of the family band, the Melody Makers, that featured his brother Ziggy Marley, and as a leader. Years ago, a young Stephen accompanied his mother, vocalist Rita Marley, to New Orleans when she performed a Jazz Fest night concert on the Riverboat President so he has an understanding of the link between this city – that he loves – to his homeland of Jamaica.

The title of the tour comes from Marley’s new release, Revelation Part II: The Fruit of Life, the follow-up to his Grammy award winning Revelation Part I: The Root of Life. Both albums are on the Ghetto Youths International label, founded in 1988 by Stephen and his older brother Ziggy who is heard on Revelation Part I.



The music on the second album celebrates the relationships between reggae music, the Jamaican toasting style and American hip-hop. For the recording, Marley invites an array of rappers like Shaggy and Busta Rhymes to explore the connections.

“The whole hip-hop thing comes from Jamaica,” Marley proclaims, a statement that was recently reiterated by modern jazz drum legend Tootie Heath and has been historically validated. “Growing up in Jamaica in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, what you call rap and we call DJing, was a big part of my – and my generation’s – influence,” Marley explains, adding that in Jamaica it’s also called dancehall and toasting.”

The theme of “The Fruit of Life” is to musically depict reggae’s evolution and how other musics influenced its sound. Thus more romantically leaning contemporary rhythm and blues is offered on “Perfect Picture,” on which Stephen is joined by his brother, Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley. Jr. Gong is back with St. Painkillah for a taste of funk on “Music Is Alive” and Shaggy brings on the soul for one of the album’s solid contenders, “So Strong.” On the emotional “The Lion Roars,” the rap of Rick Ross opens the up-to-today tune with another Marley brother, Kymani featured.

Old-school reggae, a part of Stephen’s heart and sound, rings out on “Revelation Party,” a tune brings out the joy that seems inherent in his nature and vocals.

The special guests on the disc won’t be at the House of Blues show, of course, though Marley promises to perform material from both of the Revelation albums as well as songs from 2007’s Mind Control for which he won his first Grammy as a solo artist.

He says he’ll be doing some of the rapping from the disc while steering away from the tunes that he considers he is unable to properly represent live. Marley is bringing a sizable, eight-piece band to the House of Blues gig which will act as the opening act while featuring some of the artists from within its midst like vocalists Erika Newell and Rochelle Bradshaw and guitarist Randy Gordon.

Stephen Marley’s voice, spirit and dedication to reggae’s socially conscious, political and one-love messages continues those that his father put forth. Bob Marley’s songs will always be a part of any Stephen Marley show and to some extent that of any truly dedicated reggae artist.

“That’s a big part of me, the roots,” Stephen declares warmly. “I love doing that. The purpose of reggae music – my music – is to uplift the spirit.

Doors open at 6:30 pm and showtime is 8 pm. For ticket information, go to

Funkin’ Hip-Hop Soul Fun

A double bill at Tipitina’s on Saturday, July 23, with drummer/vocalist Derrick Freeman’s Smoker’s World and keyboardist/vocalist Nigel Hall’s Band is certainly “ear-catching.” These two New Orleans musicians and friends both burst with energy and have a good time at their crafts.

Hall, who is heard on background vocals on Aaron Neville’s newly released album, Apache, brings the sound of old-school soul to a next generation on newly penned tuned as heard on his fine disc, Ladies & Gentlemen… Nigel Hall. The headliner boasts a really strong group of musicians along with him including guitarist Derwin “Big D” Perkins, simply one of the most soulful guys on the ax, Thelonious Monk Institute award winner, drummer/vocalist Jamison Ross and in demand bass man Eric Vogel. You can’t really get down with soul without horns and trumpeter Eric Benny Bloom and saxophonist Khris Royal team up for the job.

“The goal is to not only freshen up old stuff but to make it new again,” says Hall. “It’s suppose to live forever. That’s why it’s timeless.”

Speaking of Royal, he’s doing double duty this night, blowing again on Freeman’s opening set. This time he’ll be in the horn section with trumpeter John Michael Bradford. The rest of the group in Smoker’s World are vocalist Christin Braford, pianist Drew Meez and bassist Devin Kerrigan.

Leaders Hall and Freeman have mixed it up in the past, acting as guests on each others’ sets. Hall will also be heard playing organ on a cut he produced for Freeman’s yet-to-be released album, MFG. Sounds like nothin’ but a party at Tip’s this night.

This article originally published in the July 18, 2016 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper.

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