Stephen Marley at House of Blues, 5/22/14
I wonder what it was like to grow up a Marley. Unfortunately they all lost their dad too early in life, but what was it like growing up in Bob's shadow? While it might've been difficult stepping out on their own, the family name assuredly afforded them many more opportunities throughout life.
Photos by Jim Bricker
Now that they're all in their 30s and 40s, and mostly in the music scene, it must be difficult ever being cast as anything but the child of a musical icon. And while I'm sure they're all alright with it, they have to live the rest of their lives more or less as representatives to their father's music rather than being known for their own.
But then again, you don't ever hear about a Marley kid (and there are a lot of them) becoming an accountant or waiting tables. They definitely have lived the sweet life, and are continuing to by forwarding the tradition of music and the Marley name.
Through the mid-2000's, the world saw a lot of Marley's kids. Ziggy was still going strong with the Melody Makers and his solo career, Damien "Jr. Gong" was welcoming everyone to Jamrock and touring with hip-hop legend Nas, Julian and Ky-Mani were both bursting on to the scene, but out of the lot of them, the most original music was coming from Bob's second oldest son, Stephen.
His debut album, Mind Control, was a welcome one and with the help of several choice guest stars including his brother Damian and Mos Def, welcomed Stephen into the world of music already removed from the shadow. And while he looks and sounds the most like his father, his material's originality is what has helped him jump out on his own.
He still tackles his father's material during his live show ("Could You Be Loved," "Is This Love" and "Get Up Stand Up"), which is welcome and appreciated by the crowd, but many people were there to see Stephen and not Bob. Fortunately we were given ample opportunity over the hour and a half performance.
Stephen's particular brand of reggae touches on what his father mastered, but is stylistically his own. He adds dashes of hip-hop, funk and soul to the party, keeping it high energy throughout. While the stage is mostly his, he invited a handful of friends to the stage including a third generation Marley, Stephen's son Jo Mersa, who's a budding reggae star on his own right.
Throughout the set, Marley and his band remained nice and loose, only tightening up when they needed to. They tackled songs from each of his three albums, including a dub version of "No Cigarette Smoking (In My Room)," a sans-Mos Def take on "Hey Baby," "Traffic Jam," "Made In Africa" and a brief step away from the energetic set with an acoustic "Revelation Party" featuring just Stephen and his guitar player trading licks and verses.