No Miami NO Cry

Marley fans don't want to wait in vain for a fitting tribute

Despite Blowfish topping the bill, roots fans might still happily slap down a Jackson plus five (and four cans of soup), to see roots veterans Burning Spear, originator of the most essential of reggae albums, Marcus Garvey. Then there's the roots harmonizing of Morgan Heritage, a vocal group made up of the three sons and two daughters of the legendary Denroy Morgan. And of course there will be appearances by all the progeny of Bob: Ziggy, Sharon, Cedella, Stephen, Julian, and Damian "Jr. Gong" Marley.

But given the festival's history, there is no guarantee that any given act will show up. The 2000 festival advertised appearances by Lauryn Hill and Jimmy Cliff, but neither performed, leading the large Hill contingent to close the festival with a chorus of boos. Fogle claims that the organizers tried to get the word out about Hill's no-show a week before the concert.

Last year's production also suffered from technical difficulties that delayed the performance by the Marley brothers. "They worked on the sound stage (or at least that's what they made us believe) for more than an hour," wrote one disappointed fan on a popular Bob Marley Website. "For the amount of money they made, you'd figure they would at least have the stage set up with some professionalism. No one should have to wait that long."

Burning Spear burning bright at the Marley Festival
Burning Spear burning bright at the Marley Festival

Details

Saturday, February 17. Doors open at 1:00 p.m. Admission is $20 in advance plus four cans of food. Call 305-740-7344.
Bayfront Park Amphitheater, 301 Biscayne Blvd.

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According to a source close to the festival, those "technical difficulties" were caused by an attempt made by Richard Booker, using his stage name Richard Booker Marley. Not considered one of the family's performers, Booker recently had added the Marley moniker and, claims the source, was using the venue as a chance to advance his own musical aspirations. The concert stalled, according to this account, while equipment being set up by Ziggy's crew was taken down by Richard's, and back and forth. Compounded by Erykah Badu's overtime performance, the delay forced the Marley brothers to play an abbreviated set before the city's mandated curfew shut down the show. (Repeated calls to Booker were not returned.)

In its present incarnation Miami's Bob Marley festival is a far less lustrous tribute than the Long Beach version where Bob's bandmates -- Bunny Wailer, Marcia Griffiths, and Judy Mowatt -- take the stage along with roots giants Toots & The Maytals, Culture, Ras Michael, and Ky-Mani Marley (noticeably absent from the Miami lineup), as well as contemporary stars Capleton, Shaggy, and Buju Banton. As long as the Marley family name is attached to the festival here, however, there is always hope for redemption. "We contacted the Wailers but there was a schedule conflict," says Fogle. "It's something we would like to do in the future -- to bring some of Bob's former bandmates together with [the Marley kids]." Until the Miami festival looks beyond the box office, all the Blowfish in the world will not fix it.

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