The Miami 9 Mile Music festival successfully unites the people with the Love of Reggae Music
Photos & feature by Empress K for www.reggaereflection.com
Thanks to Xpressive Foto as well for photo contribution
The 19th Annual 9 Mile Festival took place on Saturday, March 3rd, 2012 at the Historic Virginia Key Beach Park
. About 10 days before the event official statements reported that the Marleys and even Burning Spear would not be performing at the festival as originally planned. Fortunately everything worked out and all released statements the week of the show that they would indeed be performing.
For the last few years that I've attended the event, it's been held at Bayfront Park in Miami. This year it moved to the new location and when I arrived in the late afternoon, the waters of the Rickenbacker Causeway were glistening in the sun tempting me to stop and take some photos. However, time was limited so I continued on to the nearby venue. Ample parking in the area allowed me to park in a free lot not too far away. A steady stream of concert goers were walking to the venue from the various parking lots with bags of canned goods as part of the advertised entrance fee of just under $50 for advanced general admission plus 4 canned items for donation. According the the official website, www.ninemilemusicfestival.com
, "The 9 Mile Music Festival is responsible for collecting over two (2) million canned goods over its 18 year span, in an effort to continuously give back to its community. Four canned goods are required for entry, along with a purchased admission; the canned goods collected are then distributed to shelters in Miami & Jamaica". And officially on twitter they reported that over 40,000 canned goods were collected this year alone.
The 19th consecutive year of the Nine Mile Music Festival had strong attendance in the thousands and featured an equally strong line up of headliners Damian 'Jr Gong' Marley, Stephen Marley and Julian Marley along with other familiar names to the 9 Mile Festival such as Tarrus Riley and Capleton who have had a regular presence on the festival in past years and this year featured Cocoa Tea and newer artists Melanie Fiona, a Canadian R&B Grammy Award winning singer and Wale a hip-hop artist. The latter two are featured on Stephen Marley's latest Grammy Winning Album 'Revelation Pt. 1: The Roots of Life'. Unfortunately due to flight schedules, I missed Kehv, Collie Buddz , Richie Spice and the New Kingston Band who performed prior to 5:00pm. By all accounts that I heard, they were all received well by the audience. Tarrus 'Singy Singy' Riley accompanied by Dean Fraser and the Black Soil Band was the first set that I saw. While I also saw Tarrus perform in January at Rebel Salute, it was great to see him have an opportunity to perform a much longer set and as always he performed a lively set entertaining the audience throughout his performance. Look out for his new album, 'Mecoustic' coming out in April.
Tarrus Riley with Dean Fraser and the Black Soil Band livens up the crowd
Fans get up close and personal
Band changes were kept to the minimum as the next band set up for Cocoa Tea and Capleton. Cocoa Tea paved the way for great crowd interaction when he called for the fans to "'break down the barrier" flooding the gates with general admission fans to get a chance to get up close in personal in the space that had been previously reserved for some of the photography and video personnel.
Capleton looking Regal in his richly colored Red, Gold and Green attire was full of high energy as one always expects from Capleton. He quickly engaged the crowd and continued strong crowd interaction throughout his set. The emcee called for an encore of his set which the fans were definitely in the mood for more fire, however there wasn't enough time do so.
Melanie Fiona the only lead female performer of the evening was accompanied by two female supporting vocalists. The set endorsed by Power 96FM was fairly short but well received. Wale was up next and definitely a favorite for the younger crowd who embrace Hip Hop as well as Reggae. Wale just couldn't get close enough to the crowd and jumped down into the crowd at one point and onto one of the speakers to further engage his fans.
Fans enjoying the 9 Mile Music Festival
Roots Cultural Reggae meets R&B and HipHop to delight the diverse crowd
Next up Burning Spear and the Marley Family for a One Love Finale
All of the artists showed their love for the people and the crowd reacted in kind. Excitement was running high by the time Reggae Icon Burning Spear hit the stage and captivated his fans who had been patiently waiting for his appearance. By the time the Marleys came on stage, a party atmosphere was well underway. Christopher Ellis, son of the late Alton Ellis and a member of the Ghetto Youths Crew opened with Stephen Marley's band. Then Stephen Marley, Jr. Gong, and Julian Marley continued the celebration of the night's One Love theme by starting off their set with 'Is this Love' then performed their modern versions of many of their father's songs. The lengthy set allowed each to showcase their own popular songs as well. Julian on 'Boom Draw', Stephen on 'Iron Bars', Damian on 'Welcome to Jamrock', as well as several collaborations with all three brothers on 'Traffic Jam' 'Jah Army', and 'Mission'. Melanie Fiona returned to perform a playful duette with Stephen on 'No Cigarette Smoking'. Additional Special Guests Spragga Benz always a crowd favorite, and members of the Ghetto Youth Crew - Illestr8, Black Am I, along with Stephen's son Jo Mersa highlighted the next generation of Marley talent before Damian, Stephen, and Julian closed out the evening with 'Could you be Loved' and 'One Love' with the fans eagerly singing along.
Burning Spear Captivates his fans
The smiles of Stephen, Damian, and Julian lit the Stage
Despite some of the controversy initially surrounding the show as to who would be performing, the 19th Annual Nine Mile Music Festival was clearly a success in uniting the people with the love of Reggae Music. The smiles of Stephen, Damian, and Julian certainly lit the stage and hopefully will have a far reaching effect that it really is all about the love. Until next year..... One Love.
Be sure to check out the full slide show of pics from the festival as well as a few video clips below.
Full Slide show Gallery of Photos