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My first time ever photographing live music was a small local reggae cover band. On Friday nights at a hole in the wall bar in Newport they played us their rendition of some of the greatest reggae songs while we danced the night away. Many of the songs were covers of timeless songs by Bob Marley and his sons Ziggy, Stephen and Damian.
Last Thursday I arrived at Blue Hill Bank Pavilion in Boston, thrilled to finally be able to photograph the artists who inspired that cover band. I had my camera poised for the dancing dread-locks of a powerful line up of reggae favorites, including multiple generations of Bob Marley’s legacy. The Catch a Fire Tour was named the 1973 Wailer’s album and the tour itself is a tribute to the Jamaican musical giant, headlined by his two sons Stephen and Damian. The show also included guest appearances by Stephen’s son Jo Mersa and their nephew Skip, truly making it a family affair.
Opening the show was contemporary roots reggae quintet, Morgan Heritage. Fitting nicely into the reggae family theme, the Morgan siblings fronted by Peetah Morgan started playing to an empty venue that quickly filled up throughout the set.
Morgan Heritage was followed by the energetic Jamaican reggae firecracker Tarrus Riley. Tarrus riled up the crowd working the stage from every angle, jumping and encouraging the crowd out of their seats.
Stephen “ Ragga” Marley’s set was to follow, prefaced by two guest appearances from Jamaican singer Black Am I and son Jo Mersa Marley. When Stephen took the stage the crowd was on their feet enthusiastically singing along to Stephen’s own music mixed with hair-raising versions of some of his father’s most memorable tracks, including “Three Little Birds”. A Jamaican flag was waved throughout Stephen’s set as well as the rest of the show reminding us of where the reggae family’s roots began.
Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley took the stage next and opened with a powerful performance of “Make It Bun Dem”. The Jamaican flag continued to wave as Stephen joined Damian on stage to perform their joint tracks “Jah Army” and “The Traffic Jam”. The show wrapped with a knock-out performance of “Welcome to Jamrock” that truly gave me goose bumps.
When all was said and done I believe that Bob Marley’s sons would have made him a proud father, clearly his reggae genius was carried on and will continue to pass down for generations to come.