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Concert Review: 15th Annual Caribbean Festival at Bayfront Park


Ky-mani Marley rocking in front of thousands of fans.

15th Annual Caribbean Festival AKA The Bob Marley Festival

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Bayfront Park Amphitheater

Better than: Staying home and listening to Exodus on repeat.

Over the weekend, one of Miami's most treasured music festivals returned to the city for a 15th year in a grand celebration of reggae, Caribbean culture, and of course, the legendary legacy of Robert Nesta Marley.

This year the concert featured a wide array of performers which seemed to delight the crowd and offer a bit of everything for everybody. From dancehall to roots-rock to one-drop to lovers rock, all types of reggae were on the bill and that made things enjoyable for novices and die-hard fans alike.

The weather held out all day and temperature-wise, conditions were great for a day-long festival.

It's hard to think of which performers were better than others--that's a matter of opinion anyway, but I can say that the fireman, Capleton, absolutely killed it as he bounced all over the stage unlike any other artist on the bill.



Germany's Gentleman was a crowd favorite on Saturday night as well as he ran through his modest list of hits like, "Superior" and "Runaway." Nothing against the guy. His backup singers were good, and his band was tight. Something about him was just hard to connect with. But I was in the minority on that one (in multiple ways) as melanin levels seemed to be divided on his set. Folks with a lot of it looked bored, but the gaggle of spoiled white teenage girls who dominated the first few rows by the stage were in love. Of course they were all wasted and underage (which I can vaguely remember) so their taste in music isn't to be trusted anyway.

One thing that deserves to be mentioned is that there was way too much time in between artists...45 minutes to an hour, which made no sense. Microphones didn't work, equipment didn't work, and the sound crew straight up sucked. There's no reason for such lengthy delays to break up the vibe of an overall great concert but that's exactly what happened and I hope they don't get hired next year.

Babyfaced singer, Javaughn, did a good job on Saturday night of living up to the hype surrounding his name and talent. The 15-year-old singer has gained the confidence of the Marley family who are producing his music and getting on concert bills around the world (on the weekends of course--dude has school Monday through Friday). He's the newest act on Tuff Gong/Ghetto Youths and the JA massive went nuts when he jumped into his song, "Superstar," which sounds like it's got some vocoder in it via his MySpace, but thankfully, that vocoder effect was gone this weekend.

Unfortunately, I didn't catch Joseph Israel's or Richie Spice's set so if anybody did see them, please fill us in. Richie Spice has dominated airwaves with his three big tunes and missing his set was rather disappointing.

The Marley's took over the stage aroun 10 p.m. and ran it for the next two hours in grand fashion. First up was Ky-mani Marley and he brought a whole lot of Miami swagger with him to the stage. He spent a solid 45 minutes up there running through a bunch of songs from his new album, Radio, that the crowd ate up. A highlight of the show was when Tessanne Chin came out, surprising the crowd, while Ky-mani was still on stage. They sang their big tune, "The Conversation" together and while the song sounds great on the album, something about their chemistry was just off. Word is, that tune is going to be the next release of Ky-mani's latest album in the Caribbean, and possibly the U.S. as well, but we'll see.


After Ky-mani's set ended, a brief respite ensued for about 15 minutes and then Julian, Stephen, Ky-mani, and Damian all came out together and sang a bunch of their father's material. Everything from "Pimper's Paradise" to "Turn Your Lights Down Low" to "Babylon "System" was thrown into the mix and it was definitely a set that true Bob fans could appreciate. Damian eventually jumped into "Welcome to Jamrock" and Stephen jumped into "The Traffic Jam" which was the best part of the show.

Critics Notebook:

Personal Bias: I love watching the Marley boys on stage doing there thing but where were the Marley girls? Bob daughters rarely get the shoutouts that his sons do. What's with that?

Random Detail: VIP definitely didn't have to bring a canned good to get in although everyone else was required to do so.

By the way: Everybody behaved themselves peacefully at this concert and while there were plenty of people passing out from exhaustion or heatstroke, everybody kept the vibes positive which was great to see.

-- Jonathan Cunningham

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Jonathan Cunningham

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