Roots, Rock, Reggae, with Ozomatli, Bunny Wailer, Stephen
Marley, and Ziggy Marley. At the Santa Barbara Bowl, Friday, August

Reviewed by Ethan Stewart

Stephen-Marley4.jpgWhen one day faced with the question,
“Where were you when World War III broke out?,” I will smile and
flash back to last Friday night at the Bowl, my mind flooded with
the sounds of sweet reggae music. That’s when the crest of Milpas
Street became a much-needed womb of positive vibrations for five
beautiful hours as two of Bob Marley’s sons — Stephen and
Ziggy — and his former bandmate Bunny Wailer took to the stage as
part of the Roots, Rock, Reggae Tour.

With opener Jon Nicholson lost to traffic, Los Angeles’s
Ozomatli kicked things off with their Latin-infused, hip-hop,
shake-your-ass-and-feel-good music. No strangers to S.B., the
10-piece Ozo crew rewarded those who showed up on time with an
uninhibited exercise in fun that culminated in a marching band
parade out into the beer courtyard. Next up was Bunny, who — draped
in a massive red, gold, and green scarf — dropped a serious dose of
dancehall history lessons with such classics as “Don Dadda” and
“Ballroom Floor.” Bunny then went on to cover Peter Tosh’s “I’m the
Toughest” and a medley of Wailers’ hits, such as “Simmer Down” and
“Mellow Mood.”

Then Stephen Marley brought the audience to its feet for more
than an hour with his own tunes and his father’s timeless numbers.
As the air filled with ganja smoke and Bunny skanked it up on the
side of the stage, Stephen — decked out in denim from head to toe
and with his flowing dreadlocks — sounded and looked hauntingly
similar to Bob Marley during his 1979 Bowl performance. As such,
Stephen’s take on his dad’s “Buffalo Soldier” and “Could You Be
Loved” resulted in something like church for the crowd. Ziggy
closed the evening with a rock-influenced set, staking new
territory for the Melody Makers’ former frontman. At worst it
sounded like Lenny Kravitz goes to Jamaica, but at its best it was
powerful and moving music.

Having witnessed this tour’s kickoff at Reggae on the River the
week before, I can report that the Bowl got the better performance,
especially because everyone got to go home last week chanting, “Get
up, stand up! Stand up for your right!” That was the encore sung
together by Bunny, Ziggy, and Stephen, giving this generation the
closest thing it will ever have to seeing and feeling Bob Marley
live. And what better time to remember that timeless cry to


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