By Matt Nickelson
It’s not often you get to celebrate a legend’s 71st birthday on their actual birthday. I am of course talking about Bob Marley, whose birthday is February 6. The man who helped pay tribute to this legend of music was Junior Marvin. His name may not compare to that of Marley’s, but he played guitar in Marley’s band, the Wailers, for five years. He was invited to join Stevie Wonder or Bob Marley and the Wailers on Valentine’s Day in 1977. He chose Bob Marley because they both had Jamaican roots. He was a key contributor to some of Marley’s biggest releases including 1977’s ‘Exodus’ and 1980’s ‘Uprising.’
Junior now leads his own ten piece band called Junior Marvin’s Wailers. There is a full drum kit, percussions, and two keyboard players. The wonderful celebration of Bob Marley’s birthday was held at the Creative Alliance in Highlandtown. The festivities began with a DJ soul shakedown party for an hour of Marley inspired dance music. The venue usually holds around 150-200 people, but there were many more than that groovin’ to those reggae beats. The chairs were moved out so people could sway and dance to the music.
Junior Marvin’s Wailers were very tight and professional. They also dedicated their performance to Althea ‘Julie’ Layne Hamilton, a vocalist in their band who recently passed away. They brought a special guest, who they introduced as Bobby from Mongolia. He accompanied Marvin on a few songs. They covered many of Marley’s classic hits including ‘I Shot the Sheriff,’ ‘Redemption Song,’ and ‘Three Little Birds.’ I don’t be- lieve there was a person who wasn’t singing along; I know I was. They jammed for two hours taking a ten minute break.
The audience was a mix of young and old which just goes to show that even though Bob Marley’s been dead for 34 years his music and message of good vibes and peace will always resonate with listeners. Junior Marvin released a new album in February titled ‘Unite the Time Is Right: Africa Is Calling You.’