MUSIC BOX: Reggae Revelations

By on June 14, 2016

Stephen Marley celebrates first album in five years at the Garter.

Grammy slayer Stephen ‘Ragga’ Marley makes a stop in Jackson on Sunday armed with hip-hop flavored reggae.

Grammy slayer Stephen ‘Ragga’ Marley makes a stop in Jackson on Sunday armed with hip-hop flavored reggae.

JACKSON HOLE, WY – It’s a beautiful thing to see the offspring of a pioneering artist not only get along but proudly produce their own bodies of work together in spirit. The second son of Bob and Rita Marley, Stephen “Ragga” Marley, will roll into the Pink Garter on his 44-city U.S. tour with six Grammy Awards to his name and the go-to Marley as producer-musician.

His solo output has been delayed and staggered, beginning with the 2007 debut Mind Control, which won a Grammy for Best Reggae Album. Mind Control Acoustic followed in 2009, holding fans over until the 2011 release of Revelation Pt. 1—The Root of Life. It’s been a long wait for Revelation Pt. 2—The Fruit of Life, which drops July 22. “Scars on My Feet” is the first single off the upcoming release, out now. It features Atlanta rapper Waka Flocka Flame. Stephen really spread the love with many other special guests including Wyclef Jean, Shaggy, and various Marleys. To understand Stephen’s career as the most hip-hop influenced and the most studio-minded of the brothers, check out his roots in the late 70s.

Stephen first appeared on record in 1979 when he was six years old, singing “Children Playing in the Streets” along with his brother Ziggy, a charity single benefitting the United Nations. That single marked the beginning of the Ziggy-fronted Melody Makers for which Stephen was an intricate part as guitarist, singer and songwriter. The Melody Makers account for three of Stephen’s Grammys and sparked a whole new era for the family name. In 1996, Stephen contributed production work and ideas to albums by his brothers Damian and Julian.

“I do get great pleasure in working with each and every one of my siblings,” Marley told Las Cruces Sun-News this month. “The greatest joy is to be a part of a team, and our family is so tight as a team. When we sit and create, there’s a difference between producing and being the artist; at the same time, it’s one and the same. When we create music, it’s such a beautiful thing, having new inspiration.”

Also in 1996, Stephen remixed the Fugees and revealed his love of hip-hop and R&B to the masses. The incorporation of hip-hop became an integral part of his own music, something for which he’s been criticized for by some reggae purists. His perceived obligatory responsibility of carrying on the tradition of his father is not something he dwells on, but believes it’s a rather organic, unfolding process.

“I am a sheep of that pasture. I am a seed of that fruit. I don’t go about thinking of it like that. I just be. Everything is covered, because I am a sheep from that pasture. I am of this legacy. It’s not a conscious decision; an apple will be an apple,” Marley explained. “Hip-hop and reggae are cousins. Hip-hop comes from reggae, from our dancehall side of things, where we’d use turntables. That was the party. It’s a suffering music, a struggling people’s music. This music was a way to express themselves, and to kind of alleviate the struggle. In Jamaica, there are terrible struggles, but in the inner cities here, some of them are worse. It’s a similar culture—ghetto music.”

The 44-year-old became a grandfather this year by the daughter of his eldest son Jo Mersa Marley, who is also a member of his touring band.

Stephen Marley, 9 p.m. Sunday at the Pink Garter Theatre. $33-$35. PinkGarterTheatre.com; 733-1500.

Americana’s White Buffalo

Easy Americana care of The White Buffalo happens Wednesday, June 15, at Pink Garter Theatre.

Easy Americana care of The White Buffalo happens Wednesday, June 15, at Pink Garter Theatre.

If there was a white buffalo roaming the Greater Yellowstone ecosystem it would be instantly famous. Folks would snap up the opportunity to photograph it, stalk it, and probably get to close to it. Standing out amongst the herd is not that easy in the music business. In this case, The White Buffalo is semi-underground troubadour and alt-country singer-songwriter Jake Smith. The burly, baritone-voiced Oregonian echoes the drunks and misfits of a Waylon Jennings character with a tender side, and a hell of a bison growl.

The White Buffalo released his first album in 2002 and has made four albums and three EPs since; though it’s the TV show Sons of Anarchy that has helped fuel his following. He’s a musically simplistic songwriter, a lyricist that speaks of today’s ills without being political, and dabbles in the girth of Americana that is folk, country, alternative and rock.

Don’t sleep on getting there on time. Americana, indie-folk rockers Canyon Kids will have their six-piece outfit for this set.

The White Buffalo with Canyon Kids, 9 p.m. Wednesday at the Pink Garter Theatre. $15-$18. PinkGarterTheatre.com; 733-1500.

Take a road trip to Pinedale

Pinedale Fine Arts Council’s Soundcheck Summer Music Series will kick off this Thursday at Lakeside Lodge with Nashville’s straight-talking, anti-machine country artist Michaela Anne along with Pinedale acts The Boom & The Bust and Pinedale After Dark. The remainder of the series will be outside in downtown Pinedale’s American Legion Park. The lineup includes Jalan Crossland Band with The Lowest Pair (July 4), The Barefoot Movement with Screen Door Porch (July 15), Laney Jones & The Spirits with Jason Tyler Burton Band (July 23), and The Appleseed Collective with The Boom & The Bust (August 6). PJH PinedaleFineArts.com. 

Aaron Davis is a decade-long writer of Music Box, a singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, member of Screen Door Porch and Boondocks, founder/host of Songwriter’s Alley, and co-founder of The WYOmericana Caravan.

160615Music_PlanetPicks

160615Music_PlanetPicks-2WEDnesday

The White Buffalo, Canyon Kids (Pink Garter Theatre); Songwriter’s Alley Open Mic feat. BOGDOG (Silver Dollar)

THURsday

Michaela Anne, The Boom & The Bust, Pinedale After Dark (Lakeside Lodge in Pinedale);

Major Zephyr (Silver Dollar)

SATurday

The Kitchen Dwellers (Silver Dollar)

SUNday

Stephen Marley (Pink Garter Theatre)

Monday

JH Hootenanny (Dornan’s); Canyon Kids (Hatch)

TUESday

One Ton Pig (Silver Dollar); Open Mic (Virginian)

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About Aaron Davis

Aaron Davis is a decade-long writer of Music Box, a singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, member of Screen Door Porch and Boondocks, founder/host of Songwriter’s Alley, and co-founder of The WYOmericana Caravan.

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