Happy birthday Bob Marley, you get a festival

Annette Ovanessian

Daily Sundial

Sixty-one years ago today, reggae’s biggest musical figure was born. Happy Birthday Bob Marley!

Marley devleoped reggae music in the 1970s and delivered it to new audiences around the world. He utilized aspects of traditional ska, roots and rocksteady aspects of his Jamaican musical herritage to convey messages of peace and change. Marley met with success crafting intelligent and melodious songs that grabbed listeners attention. Marley was an activist and freedom fighter. He believed in the vital importance of unity, togetherness, spirituality and love. Music was his vehicle to communicate that message.

Continuing in tradition, he will be honored for his acheivements in music and social equality in grand reggae style. For 25 years, the annual Ragga Muffins Festival has celebrated Marley’s music, life and spirit, dedicating two days of live reggae performances from around the world.

This year’s Ragga Muffins Festival is being held at The Long Beach Arena on Feb. 18 and 19.

Saturday’s concert is headlined by reggae/dub legend, Lee “Scratch” Perry. Perry has been making music since the early 1950s and has produced and collaborated musicians such as King Tubby, The Clash, The Beastie Boys and Bob Marley. Perry has been credited for producing some of Marley’s greatest music, but due to personal and business disagreements, they went their separate ways. The two remained friends until Marley passed away in 1981.

If you know reggae, you know Lee “Scratch” Perry. His character is known to be as curious as his freaked-out dub/tribal/off-the-wall reggae music in concert. Reggae great, “The Cool Ruler,” Gregory Isaacs, will also share the headlining position, performing his lovers rock anthems with positive vibes.

Michael Franti ‘ Spearhead will draw in the indie crowds on Saturday for their interesting blending of reggae, hip hop, funk and rock. Richie Spice will provide the dancehall lovers a reason to get up and get out on the dance floor. Horace Andy and Gentleman will also join in with the 11 performers for Saturday.

Sunday’s lineup includes headliners The Wailers with their old school roots rock and reggae rhythms. And the newcomer Matisyahu will perform songs off his chart-topping new album, “Live at Stubbs.” Matisyahu’s musical style reflects his inspirations from rasta reggae to hip hop. His take on reggae is a modern, up-to-date version of what’s already been done before. Reggae veteran Freddie McGregor will provide an upbeat lyricism over easy tempos as Anthony B’s smooth reggae feel will even out the set list.

In addition to the world class musicians, there will arts and crafts cultural food and the children’s activities. Yes, even the Bob Marley Festival is family-friendly.

Ticket prices vary in cost. General admission floor tickets are $55 and $44 for general admission seating. For additional information and for a complete listing of performances visit www.raggamuffinsfestival.com.