Robert Nesta Marley would have turned 55 years old last Sunday -- wonder what type of birthday bash the father of reggae would have liked? An all-out musical soire/jamfest full of good vibes with the biggest and best names in music? A potluck? A festive family gathering and dinner? We'll never know. So we are left to our own devices to pay homage in our own personal styles, as we see fit, and as we know Bob would have liked it.
Surely Bob would have liked the party that local musician Jimi Dixon and his partner, Joel Hudgins, have prepared in his honor. Simply called the Bob Marley Birthday Celebration, Dixon -- owner of Sound Prophet Records -- and Hudgins -- who runs Warrior Rhino Talent International -- have lined up an evening of reggae music, Nyahbinghi drumming (the roots of reggae drumming), Caribbean food, dub and many other Rasta tings.
Dixon, who goes by Jimifar-I, has been a part of Colorado's reggae scene since 1979. He's played in seven different reggae bands throughout the state, including local favorites B+. In addition to performing with various other bands, he has also formed his own group, called Jimifar-I and The Riddim Band. Heavily influenced by a diverse group of musicians including the likes of Marley, Culture, Lauryn Hill and Snoop Dog, Dixon describes his music as "based on the Roots Reggae style of music with spices from many musical flavors." Part digital, part reggae, but never straying from his mission to forward reggae music and its messages, Jimifar-I and The Riddim Band will be part of the musical lineup for the celebration.
Also on the musical bill for the evening is Anthony Henry, better known as Tippa Irie. Tippa Irie emerged from England's Saxon Sound International, a traveling sound system which has been at the forefront of the U.K. reggae dance hall scene for the past 20 years. He's part of a newer generation of British emcees who have developed a fast-talking style lyric fused with the reggae beat. He is currently one of the U.K.'s most popular DJs. Having spent part of 1999 touring with UB40 in Europe, he will join them again this winter in North America. According to Dixon, we are fortunate to catch a glance of him now.
Rounding out the musical festivities, from Kingston, Jamaica, is Rappa Robert. Rappa actually began his career as more of a soulful singer with his roots planted in the sounds and styles of reggae. His love for DJ music took over, though, and in the mid-'80s and he became half of a DJ duo know as Rappa Robert and Tippa Lee. They became a regular act at the annual Jamaican Reggae Sunsplash festival. These days, he remains true to his DJ inclinations, often mixing poetry with dub music. But he has also returned to his roots as a soulful vocalist. His lyrics are heartfelt, his messages inspirational. We can only hope that Bob is watching.
If he is not actually inside of the hall listening to the music, it's because he is out in the lobby sampling the food or shopping for wares -- CDs, clothing, jewelry -- the spectrum of the usuals. Either way, the Bob Marley Birthday Celebration promises to be a party to remember.