Monday, May 18, 2015

Dreadlock Holiday: Jamaica

From Margate to Montego Bay. Well, not quite - I didn't actually make it out of capital city Kingston during my short week in the Caribbean earlier this year.

There primarily to undertake a long-planned Bob Marley pilgrimage on the eve of what would have been his 70th birthday, my trip concluded with the massive outdoor celebratory concert on Kingston Waterfront which saw Jamaica's reggae royalty performing alongside a few of Marley's own sons.

I have to say it was an almost religious experience watching that show from the front row and feeling the love for the national hero who catapulted his genre onto a global stage in the 1970s.

Capleton at Bob Marley 70th birthday concert
        Damian Marley  both © Kris Griffiths

The week leading up to the gig had seen me traverse the city in Bob's footsteps, taking in the neighbourhood he grew up in (Trenchtown), the studio he recorded in (Tuff Gong) and the mountainside retreat he escaped to following the attempt on his life (Strawberry Hill, pic below).

While so many Western tourists in Jamaica gravitate to coastal resorts like aforementioned Montego, it was gratifying to 'keep it real' in the city and soak up the local positive vibrations around the annual week of celebration.

It was also fascinating to find out more about the national Rastafari religion that pervades the city and island. There is always a waft of ganja on the breeze but not much in the way of the heavy drinking culture more prevalent on Britain's shores.

I would earnestly recommend to any fans of Marley and reggae music that they make the pilgrimage at least once in their lifetime, to see exactly where the genre's riddims originate from and to experience the peace and one love promoted by its leader, struck down way before his time.

My Rough Guides feature on Kingston pilgrimage
And review of 70th bday concert for Huffington Post.
All photos except Strawberry Hill (c) Kris Griffiths.

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