Poppy Love Smoke was the place to be on July 9th as Ky-mani Marley, one of the sons of the legendary Bob Marley, appeared for a live performance and book signing of his autobiography, Dear Dad.
The downtown cigar and wine bar, known for its jazz and spoken word events, was packed as fans waited for the chance to meet and mingle with one of reggae’s royalty. Bar tables were set up outside for those who couldn’t make it in and speakers broadcast the performance onto the sidewalk along Adams St.
The performance, brought to Jacksonville by Southern Comfort Entertainment, was scheduled to begin at 8 p.m., but in true reggae fashion, Marley arrived and took the stage closer to 9 p.m., which is rather early, considering that I’ve waited three hours or more for the main act to appear at some reggae events. However, there was little opportunity to be bored while waiting, as the bar was overflowing with wine, martinis, and a variety of other drinks, and DJ Monsta was going full force spinning great tunes. And of course, there was marvelous company to enjoy. I had the opportunity to talk to Jacksonville’s own DJ Ian, host of 93.3 The Beat’s Reggae Vibrations, who I profiled in a previous article, and to meet Angell Davis of NToU Magazine.
Marley had his son and daughter with him, who sat next to him during his performance. He walked right out into the crowd and hugged many fans, including me. I was lucky enough to be right near the front so I was able to get several good shots of him. With a little help from the deejay in getting the equipment tuned, he greeted the crowd and talked a little, explaining that he is working on a new album, titled Evolution of a Revolution. This will be a two disc effort, with one disc entitled Evolution and the other disc, Revolution. Evolution will be a continuation of his previous album, Radio.
It was truly a delight to watch him sitting on the stool with nothing more than a guitar and mic, and go into some of the new material that he is working on, including the title track,"Evolution". He talked between sets and the overall feeling was like sitting in his living room for a private jam session. He ended the first half of the show with one of his signature works, "Dear Dad" and then fans lined up to have their books signed and pictures taken. Books were available for purchase for those who hadn’t brought a copy with them. He ended the show with more new and classic sets.
Overall, the show was worth much more than the $10 or $15 cover charge. Any opportunity to meet one of the Marley’s is truly a once-in-a lifetime experience and a reminder of the powerful legacy left to the world through Bob Marley’s life and music.