The Irie Report

“People want to listen to a message, word from Jah. This could be passed through me or anybody. I am not a leader. Messenger. The words of the songs, not the person, is what attracts people.”
-Bob Marley

Marley Zion Bus Tour

Join us on the Marley Zion Bus Tour!

As we travel by bus through the Blue Mountains, you’ll see the natural beauty of a country and some of its people. You’ll see Nine Mile and Mount Zion, childhood home and final resting place of Bob Marley. You’ll see a man in a hole offering everyone who passes by a variety of items. You’ll also see the baby goat Dave Vann appropriately deemed, “so friggin’ cute.” “Thanks, Dave!”

As we wound up and down the mountain roads, the constant air horn our driver would employ to let the rest of the island know we were coming around the bend was both reassuring and, at times, scary as hell. But it could not distract from the fact that, as we headed into the heart of the real Jamaica, the disparity between rich and poor in this country was becoming more and more obvious.

Once we arrived at Nine Mile, we split up into two groups and, interestingly, both tour guides were named “Captain Crazy.” Go figure. I’m pretty sure the one you’ll see here has perfected the “crazy.”

Gates to Mount Zion

Video isn’t exactly allowed on Mount Zion. I did my best to bring you a few key moments, but there was no way I was messing with the karma of filming Bob’s mausoleum - which seemed even more off limits than the rest, as this was the one area to also forbid still photography. Though you will see the building’s exterior.

As the video pans across the top of Mount Zion, you’ll see the three buildings we toured. The Bob Marley mausoleum is the second, taller, white building with a few folks waiting to go inside. Bob’s childhood home, who’s interior you do see in the video, is the smaller, stone house. The final resting place of Bob’s mother, Cedella Marley Booker, is the third building you’ll see off to the left of the shot. If you have the chance to visit Jamaica, you’ve got to go to Nine Mile for yourself. It’s truly spiritual.

There’s another stop you can make while up in the mountains of Jamaica, and Marc Brownstein was kind enough to bargain, and pay for, passage to “the fields” for our entire group. You’ll see everyone begin to ascend the hills that would take us there, and that’s where we leave you.

The various Bob Marley songs you’ll hear were coming through the stereo on the bus and were recorded along with the video. Our guide would point out scenery that served as inspiration for a given song, or tell us the stories behind the tunes as he DJ’d. And, at times, he seemed almost compelled to provide a little vocal support (though Bob Marley may be the last one who needs it).

Bob Marley

The Disco Biscuits - Naeba

The Disco Biscuits took to the stage on 12/12 for their last performance at Caribbean Holidaze 2009.

Recently penned by bassist Marc Brownstein, Naeba is a really fun, happy Disco Biscuits song that’s just coming into its own. New song or not, the jam in this video is really impressive. Check it out. There are some shots of the Biscuits’ lyric sheet appearing through the video as well.

In addition to all of your other Biscuits’ favorites, you’re likely to catch Naeba, as well as songs from the forthcoming album Planet Anthem (February 2010), during the band’s 5-night New Years run at New York City’s Nokia Theatre, in the heart of Times Square, December 26, 27, 29, 30 & 31.

Cloud 9 Leaving a Positive Legacy Program

It’s such a privilege to be able to attend great events like Caribbean Holidaze. At the same time, it’s important to remember that we are fortunate enough to be in a position to give back to the communities that make these great events possible.

Cloud 9’s Leaving a Positive Legacy Program hopes to do just that. I sat down with Ann Kenworthy, Cloud 9’s Positive Legacy coordinator, and Julie Van Amerongen to get a better understanding of how the program helps events like Caribbean Holidaze and Jam Cruise to give back.

Establishing a non-profit organization is one important step Cloud 9 is taking to ensure its events will continue to help the host communities. On January 1, the Leaving a Positive Legacy Program will file as a 501(c)(3) organization. The mission of the non-profit arm will be to use the power of music to inspire fans to take action to minimize the environmental impact of events they attend and to make a positive impact on the communities visited.

The Positive Legacy Program at Caribbean Holidaze was made up of two parts - first, festival goers were asked to bring along some personal care items to donate to Windsor Girls Home in St. Ann’s Bay, Jamaica. Together, festival goers supplied 8 boxes of items that went directly to Windsor Girls Home.

Funded and operated by the Jamaican Government, Windsor is home to abused, orphaned, and homeless girls aged 12-18. The girls come from all over the island and most have no other place to go. While living at the school, they not only learn basic subjects like math and English, but they are also prepared for life after Windsor. The home has programs for cosmetology, dressmaking/sewing, computer skills, and home economics. Funding from the government is limited and donations such as ours help to make ends meet. Needs include books, school supplies, clothing and shoes, toiletries and personal hygiene items, games, radios and CD players, sewing supplies, used computers, and other supplies. In addition, the girls enjoy receiving make-up kits, purses, hair bows and barrettes, inexpensive jewelry, and other items.

In addition, the Positive Legacy Program staged a silent auction to raise money for a local community center. The money raised was able to purchase a high quality weed whacker so that the community center’s football (soccer) fields can be used at any time. While we might take something such as a cleared sports field for granted in the United States, having a means to clear a playing field is certainly not a given in many parts of the world.

When Jam Cruise sets sail, January 3-8, 2010, one of the stops will bring passengers to Ocho Rios, Jamaica. Through the Leaving a Positive Legacy Program, and funds raised in the silent auction, 100 passengers will disembark to provide the local community center with soccer equipment, school supplies, laptop computers, instruments for a marching band, and more.

Umphrey’s McGee - Mantis

Umphrey’s kicked off their last set of Holidaze with Mantis, the title track from their 2009 studio release.

This video features a nice groove and a breakdown as UM gets set to rock one last set on the Holidaze beach stage.

Before the album’s release, the band hadn’t performed much of the Mantis material in a live setting. However, with Holidaze setlists featuring songs like Spires, 1348, Turn & Run, Cemetery Walk I & II, and the title track, Mantis, it looks like the songs have taken hold over the course of 2009.

You can catch some songs from Mantis, and the rest of the UM catalog, during the band’s 3-night New Year’s run in their hometown Chicago, or out on the road this winter. The band has already announced extensive winter touring plans set to kick off in mid-January.

The Disco Biscuits - Grass is Green

Join tDB in the Caribbean Holidaze practice room, as they jam out on Grass is Green, moments before their 12/11 performance.

One of the band’s older songs, the slightly reworked Grass is Green jam has truly become a monster of late, and was a major heavy hitter during the Biscuits’ 2009 fall tour. Stay tuned as the video transitions to that night’s stage performance of GIG.

Umphrey’s McGee - Mulche’s Odyssey

Mulche’s has long been a staple of the live Umphrey’s show, and this rendition did not disappoint.

Umphrey’s McGee - Cemetery Walk II

On the final night of Caribbean Holidaze, Umphrey’s followed up Cemetery Walk I, which the band had performed during the festival’s opening night, with a version of Cemetery Walk II.

Both Cemetery Walks appear on UM’s latest studio album, Mantis.

It’s always great to see your favorite artists enjoying themselves on stage just as much as you are, and The Disco Biscuits’ Marc Brownstein (bass) and Jon Gutwillig (guitar) sure can enjoy themselves.

Here’s a quick “dance off” between the two from 12/12, the Biscuits’ last show of Caribbean Holidaze.

The Disco Biscuits - Above the Waves

The Disco Biscuits provided a rendition of fan favorite Above the Waves during their 2nd of 3 performances at Caribbean Holidaze 2009, and some Holidazers could be seen making a beeline for the water at our Hedonism III beach stage. How appropriate!

Umphrey’s McGee - Barracuda (feat. Jennifer Hartswick)

UM teamed up with Jen Hartswick on the last day of Caribbean Holidaze to deliver a version of Heart’s hard rock favorite Barracuda (no relation :P).

Sorry to say, I only caught the tail end of the song, which was one of the highlights of the band’s final set. Hartswick and UM really nail it.