Shillong’s Bob Marley tribute fest into 15th year

“My music will go on forever. Maybe it’s a fool say that, but when me know facts me can say facts. My music will go on forever.” Bob Marley – June, 1975

I guess even the legendary Rastafarian did not know the amount of truth the words he uttered more than three decades back held. For Bob Marley – undoubtedly one of the greatest reggae artistes to have ever walked this earth – would not have imagined how hard his fans all across the globe would strive to carry forth his legacy. The extent, I guess, can be judged by a musician from our own region who has left no stone unturned to pay obeisance to his idol.

You have guessed it right. I am talking about the Northeast’s very own Rastafarian Keith Wallang – the man behind the much popular Bob Marley Tribute fest. Inspired by the words and music of Bob Marley, this annual event was started by Springboard Surprises way back in 1996 in Shillong. The only musical event of its kind in the country, the Bob Marley tribute made a debut with the audience of reggae and Marley lovers from Shillong and Guwahati.

Bob Marley or Robert Nesta “Bob” Marley was born on February 6, 1945. He was the front man, songwriter and guitarist for the Ska-reggae bands The Wailers (1964–1974) and Bob Marley & The Wailers (1974–1981). Marley was responsible for spreading the Jamaican Ska/Reggae style of music and the Jamaican ‘religion’, the Rastafari movement to the world. Bob Marley’s best known hits include ‘I Shot the Sheriff’, ‘No Woman, No Cry’ and ‘Redemption Song.’ He has, with The Wailers and the Bob Marley & The Wailers about 15 studio albums and a score other compilations, live albums and recordings. The compilation, Legend (1984), released three years after his death, is reggae’s best-selling album.

The Bob Marley fest in Shillong has had a humble beginning. As Keith himself says, “We surely had a humble beginning in 1996 with only one band playing Bob’s songs and reggae and all the other artists singing songs they liked to a audience of only about a hundred people.” But over the years, through word of mouth and media coverage, this lively reggae event has grown drawing audiences not only from the region but also from around the country. The festival is now into its 15th year.

Last year was a major leap for the festival for it crossed borders for the first time since its inception. Having become almost like a home-grown festival, the festival moved out of Shillong for the first time to enthral reggae lovers and Marley fans in Imphal. Held on the iconic Rastafarian’s birthday on February 6 at the Iboyaima Shumang Leela Shanglen, the event had seen performances by the Roots Reggae Band from Shillong, Daniel Boko from Itanagar, Rewben Mashangva from Ukhrul, Dymsal from Shillong, Phuningding from Karbi Anglong, Sarah Lee from Shillong, Jerry Sailo from Mizoram and X Cannibals from Imphal.

This year, the festival had moved into Dimapur as well with Bob’s birthday being celebrated in Jumping Bean cafe of Dimapur. “We specially wanted to bring in a taste of Reggae music to Nagaland which has never been done before, or has been attempted but received poorly. We hope to make this an annual thing if it kicks off well with the audience here in Dimapur,” said Jumping Bean’s proprietors Sarah Pongen and Nokcha Aier.

But today, after a hiatus of three years, the festival is back to Shillong once again. The 15th annual BOB MARLEY tribute concert will be held in Tango today with Live Marley music by the Roots Reggae Band featuring Andrea, Amit, Elaine, Jeremy, Keith, Mup, Ribor, Sarah, Scarllet.

The celebration has truly grown.


About Aiyushman Dutta

Who am I? Yet to find the answer. For the time being, u can call me a writer, maybe a journalist and a music entrepreneur or an errand boy! Whatever suits your fancy!

Posted on April 29, 2010, in Concerts/ Reviews, Day-to-Day, Musicians/ Bands and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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