Punky Reggae Party

The 14th Annual Bob Marley Movement Caribbean Festival

It's festival time in South Florida, so break out the lawn chairs and coolers. Every weekend in March has a blowout concert lined up. For lovers of all things related to Rastafar-I, the best place to hang out this weekend is the 14th-annual Bob Marley Movement Caribbean Festival, which features not only a host of red-hot Jamaican artists but also most of Bob Marley's male lineage performing on stage as well. We caught up with Miami resident Ky-Mani Marley on the eve of his 31st birthday to talk about the festival, his family, and upcoming releases.

Outtakes: What does it mean to participate in another "Marley Festival" like this?

Ky-Mani Marley: A lot of this is about my father and the world he left here for the people. To be a part of this musical family and that whole energy is definitely an overwhelming feeling. For me, to be able to pay respect not only to a father but to a man that helped the world in so many ways, even till this day, is a great honor.

Big up yourself, birthday bwoy.
Julian Schmidt/ REGGAEPHOTOS.de
Big up yourself, birthday bwoy.
Engelbert loves his hog.
©2002 KATHY HUTCHINS / HUTCHINS PHOTO AGENCY
Engelbert loves his hog.
Los Zafiros circa the 1960s
Los Zafiros circa the 1960s

Is there anything that will make this year special?

It's gonna be an excellent Marley festival this year. It's a family gathering. You can't even look at it as a lineup; this is a family ting. Our moms should be there just cooling out. All the brothers will be there performing. Well, Ziggy has to tour, but everyone else should be there. Plus Capleton and Sizzla and all those guys should make it a really nice show.

There's a lot of money raised, and a canned-good donation is a requirement for entry. Where are all the proceeds going?

It's a charity event, and we send food to kids in Jamaica. And we have a school in Ethiopia where we ship food to as well. [Editor's note: Florida-based nonprofit Foodshare is also a recipient of the canned goods.]

What's going on with your music right now? Got anything cooking?

I'm working long and hard, and I'm hoping to put out a double album if the record company allows me to do that. If not, I'll have to pick the best 15 songs and let it be. The album is already finished. We're just waiting on Stephen's album to come out [March 20] and let him have his run. He's been in the industry since he was 8 years old, so this is his time. Mine will come out after that.

You've got a birthday bash coming up at Congas Nightclub in Fort Lauderdale. How come you're throwing it here and not in Jamaica?

We gon' be doing it big for my birthday, and we just want a change of venue. I haven't lived in Jamaica for quite some time, so I try to pay attention and be involved with what's happening around here. — Jonathan Cunningham

The 14th Annual Bob Marley Movement Caribbean Festival takes place Saturday, March 3, at Bayfront Park Amphitheatre, 301 N. Biscayne Blvd., Miami. Gates open at 1 p.m., and the show ends at midnight. Tickets cost $30 plus a mandatory donation of four cans of food. Visit www.bobmarleymovement.com, or call 305-740-7344.

The King of Libido

We're not sure how this makes it as a follow-up to the media circus that descended on the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino after Anna Nicole Smith's death, but Engelbert Humperdinck is swooping down on the now-notorious landmark for a one-night-only performance. Maybe this event won't draw an army of television vans, but the hotel should probably brace itself for another kind of invasion: Humperdinck's adoring legions of older women fans.

Ladies, remember when you first tried on Engelbert's last name, just to see how it would sound should you marry him one day? "Edna Humperdinck" you said with a thrill. Well, try "Edna Dorsey" on for size. In 1965, his manager suggested that he borrow that handsome, sprawling stage moniker of his. Born in Madras, India, Humperdinck wisely shelved his birth name, Arnold George Dorsey (perhaps because saying those three names out loud feels like chewing a large wad of gum). And just before his recording of "Release Me" began selling 85,000 copies per day, he adopted the name of a 19th-century German musician. The original Engelbert's heirs have objected, emphasizing that the Las Vegas-style showman isn't related to the composer of the opera version of Hänsel und Gretel. Dorsey, though, continues to use the better-sounding, unforgettable nom de guerre. Engelbert Humperdinck is nothing if not a euphonic singer in the same vein as Smokey Robinson and Jerry Vale. According to him, though, he is not a crooner. "What I am is a contemporary singer, a stylized performer," he once told the Hollywood (California) Reporter. Humperdinck then pointed out: "If you are not a crooner, it's something you don't want to be called. No crooner has the range I have. I can hit notes a bank couldn't cash." Apparently, the lovely ladies don't mind a little horn tooting. They'll flock to see him at Hard Rock Live on March 4 as they have throughout the world for almost 50 years.

— Andrés Solar

Engelbert Humperdinck performs Sunday, March 4, at Hard Rock Live, 1 Seminole Way, Hollywood. Tickets cost $50. Show starts at 7 p.m. Call 954-523-3309, or visit www.ticketmaster.com.

Música Cubana

For a brief time in the 1960s, there was no musical group in Cuba bigger than Los Zafiros ("The Sapphires"). The all-male Afro-Cuban quintet specialized in a blend of American doo-wop with Afro-Cuban son and salsa rhythms that created a unique form of Latin pop. Although the embargo has helped keep them from gaining their just due on American soil, a new film debuts locally that documents the up-and-down career of the music group that journalists once dubbed Cuba's answer to the Beatles. The group's co-founder, Miguel Cancio, now a resident of South Florida, spoke with New Times about the experience.

Outtakes: Does it surprise you that your group is getting so much attention once again after all these years?

Miguel Cancio: When we first started, we had no idea that our legacy would last so long. We were aware that we were doing something different. Our vocals were different, and we were breaking barriers and going against traditional Cuban music, but never in my wildest dreams did I think it would be popular this long.

It's hard not to notice that all of your musical influences in Cuba were black. Is there a particular reason for that?

I never had an opportunity to watch any white groups back in the '60's. We always enjoyed the African-American sound. We were great fans of the Four Tops, the Platters, the Jackson 5, and so on. We always loved the black groups more than anything.

Is it bittersweet to watch the new documentary at times?

Bittersweet is a good way to put it. It's sweet because of the great success we had as a group and bitter because we refused to integrate ourselves within the political system of the time — and even more sad that other members of the group are not here to enjoy all of these happy times.

If the political situation in Cuba changes, will you return and play music again?

The moment the Cuban political system changes and the Castro tyranny ends, I'll be one of the first to return to help continue the country's musical legacy. I am a Cuban before anything else. — Jonathan Cunningham

Los Zafiros: Music From the Edge of Time plays March 2, 3, 5, and 6 at Cinema Paradiso, 503 SE Sixth St., Fort Lauderdale. For a complete listing of screening times, visit www.fliff.com or call 954-525-FILM.

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