It’s been more than 30 years since Bob Marley made his worldly
exit, but the positive vibration from his life and music has yet to meet its end.
The sound waves make their way around to Boone Saloon again on the night of Feb. 4. The seventh annual Bob Marley Birthday Party, with performances by Hope Massive, Chalwa and DJ Fyah Babylon, will honor Jamaica’s most revered son.
If not for Marley, reggae music might not have found its way into the mountains of North Carolina, or even the rest of the world, for that matter, said Peter Brown, Hope Massive’s vocalist, keyboardist and guitarist.
“Before him, it was just basically in Jamaica only,” Brown said. “Without Bob, none of us would know what reggae is.”
Founded in Boone in 2004, Hope Massive was bred out of a shared admiration of Marley amongst Brown and friend Justin Butler. The reggae and dancehall six-piece has been a musical mainstay in the High Country and also received regional recognition upon release of its 2008 album, “itany.”
The Bob Marley Birthday Party was initiated by Hope Massive in 2006 as a way for musicians and fans to celebrate the man who introduced them to reggae music and popularized it across the globe.
“Mostly, it’s just a tribute to Bob Marley and his music and his contribution to music and positivity in the world, and our respective bands’ lives,” he said. “We’ve all been heavily influenced by him, obviously.”
Brown first encountered Marley’s music as a student at Appalachian State University in the late 1990s. It was a fateful discovery that put him on a path to musical and spiritual exploration.
“For me personally, the first reggae I listened to extensively was Bob,” he said. “I think that’s true for most people. Usually, somebody turns you onto reggae music, and you get a couple of Bob records and expand from there.”
The first Marley album most people add to their collections is his 1984 greatest hits album, “Legend,” the best selling reggae album of all time. Brown said a few of those famous songs will make it on the set list Saturday night, but the show will mostly focus on Marley’s more obscure music.
“Most of the people who are interested in reggae would have definitely heard almost all of them,” he said.
The birthday party comes just a couple days before Feb. 6, which would have been Marley’s 67th birthday. Marley died in 1981 at the age of 36 from untreated melanoma. His message of positivity and one love persists through his recordings and admirers, such as Hope Massive.
“I think he would be pleased with our music, because it continues to help people’s lives,” Brown said. “I think he would be more proud if humanity could figure out how to not be self-destructive and to be more uplifting.”
Hope Massive has performed sparingly in Boone in the last few years, due to members moving out of town, but the band hopes to continue the Bob Marley Birthday Party tradition going. Brown said they look forward to the show and playing at Boone Saloon every year.
“The Saloon – if you were a sports team, that would be our home court,” he said. “It’s our home venue. It’s always been well-received, we’ve always got a really good response for it. It’s always been pretty packed every year, and we hope that continues.”
Doors open for the Bob Marley Birthday Party at 9 p.m. DJ Fyah Babylon of Boone will open the show, followed by Asheville-based reggae band Chalwa, then Hope Massive. The cover charge for the concert is $7 and only ages 21 and older will be admitted. Boone Saloon is located at 489 W. King St. in downtown Boone.
For more information, visit Hope Massive on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/hopemassive.