Damian Marley, Shabba Ranks, And Burning Spear Speak On Return Of The Welcome To Jamrock Reggae Cruise
Damian Marley, Shabba Ranks, And Burning Spear Speak On Return Of The Welcome To Jamrock Reggae Cruise

Damian Marley, Shabba Ranks, And Burning Spear Speak On Return Of The Welcome To Jamrock Reggae Cruise

On at about 23:33:29 PM, Damian Marley, Shabba Ranks, And Burning Spear Speak On Return Of The Welcome To Jamrock Reggae Cruise was updated.

"This cruise is more than a festival, to be honest. It's not just a good time," says Marley. Damian Marley, Shabba Ranks, And Burning Spear Speak On Return Of The Welcome To Jamrock Reggae Cruise

On the Wailers' 1971 classic "Don't Rock My Boat," Bob Marley sang, "All in the same boat, rockin' on the same rock." The song, produced by the late great Lee "Scratch" Perry, is a call for unity in accordance with the time-honoured values of reggae music. "We've got to get together," Marley sang, "and love each other."

"Don't Rock My Boat" became a sort of unofficial theme song for the Welcome To Jamrock Reggae Cruise, a yearly musical excursion created by Bob's youngest son Damian "Jr. Gong" Marley and his longtime manager Dan Dalton, some forty years after its release.

The official cruise anthem, of course, would be Jr. Gong's Grammy-winning smash hit "Welcome to Jamrock."

"How blessed we are to have the opportunity to do this," Jr. Gong said in 2014, when the first Jamrock cruise set sail from Miami to Jamaica, with an all-star lineup of Jamaican reggae and dancehall stars on board, as well as many of the world's top reggae sound systems.

"Everyone on the cruise is a part of a historic moment," Jr. Gong predicted. "Both for ourselves and on behalf of the reggae music genre." That first year, as a world-famous recording artist and selector Shinehead put it, "I only fantasized about sh*t like this." It's like going to Rub-A-Dub Disneyland!"

Over the next six years, the Jamrock Cruise established itself as one of reggae's premier annual events, hosting historic performances year after year and selling out so quickly that the organizers had to move to a larger vessel. The Jamrock team was looking forward to smoothing sailing ahead as the sixth cruise wrapped up in 2019 with powerful performances by the likes of Koffee, Popcaan, Buju Banton, and Skip Marley. However, as the new decade began, the entire world changed.

A worldwide viral outbreak brought the cruise industry and many other aspects of life to a halt. Two Jamrock Cruises have had to be rescheduled since then, and cruisers have been offered a refund of their deposits.

"However, many of our devoted supporters have maintained their reservations," Dalton says. "I believe people are yearning for Jamrock now more than ever."

The community vibe on the ship has always been one of love, unity, and diversity, all of which are celebrated through reggae music and Jamaican culture. To be honest, this cruise is more than a festival. It's more than just a good time. Jamrock is more of a soul food type of thing. Jamrock is a social gathering place. That's always been the case with reggae music."

The official lineup for the seventh Welcome to Jamrock Reggae Cruise was announced this week by Boomshots, and it includes two legendary first-time performers: Burning Spear and Shabba Ranks. Both are two-time Grammy winners who embody the pinnacle of their respective genres: heavy roots reggae and hardcore dancehall. Spear, who hasn't performed live in years, is known for empowerment anthems like "Marcus Garvey" and "Slavery Days," while Shabba, of course, took dancehall to the pop charts with energetic bangers like "Ting A Ling" and "Mr Lover Man."

The return of the Jamrock Cruise couldn't come at a better time for Jr. Gong. "It comes at a time when we need cultural examples," he says. "This is especially true for the authentic part of the culture." We require some assistance in order to keep it afloat. We require platforms like this."

For different reasons, Spear and Shabba have special meanings for Marley.

"First and foremost, as a huge fan of this music, it's a joy to know that we'll be able to see Burning Spear live," Jr. Gong says. "I haven't really had the chance to see him perform as an adult,"

Damian recalls attending festivals like Reggae Sunsplash as a child, where Spear would be on the lineup, but he came to appreciate his deep cultural messages later in life. "I was paying more attention to dancehall as a likkle bwoy," he says.

Damian Marley was managed by Specs-Shang, the same team that represented Shabba Ranks and Bounty Killer in his early days as an up-and-coming artist. Spending time on the road with two rising dancehall icons left a lasting impression on Jr. Gong as he developed his own distinct sound and style. “ Shabba joked that he knew Jr. Gong was more than just a fan. "I knew he was more than just a fan," Shabba recalls with a laugh. "He was like an air conditioner!"

Shabba, on the other hand, claims that

"the young Jr. Gong was very curious, with a keen sense of willingness to listen when I was talking to him about music,"

I told him that he needed to go to school if he wanted to be a great musician. He had a sponge-like demeanour as if he was soaking up the information I was giving him about dis music yah. And that's what makes him so great."

Jr. Gong sees the performance as part of "an overall salute to the elders," in addition to being a fan of Spear's music. The fact that so many legendary artists have died in the last two years, including reggae pioneer Toots Hibbert, bass master Robbie Shakespeare, and Tabby Diamonds and Bunny Simpson of the Mighty Diamonds, all of whom have performed on previous Jamrock cruises, emphasizes the significance.

"We've lost so many of our legends," Jr. Gong laments. "We have make a point of saluting the man who is still with us." Make the most of your time, and as the saying goes these days, "Give them their flowers while they're still alive to smell them."

Burning Spear, whose name was inspired by the great Kenyan leader Jomo Kenyatta, will perform on a cruise ship for the first time, bringing his musical fire to the Caribbean sea. The fact that this cruise was organized by Bob Marley's son adds to the event's significance for him.

"That's where it all began for me," Spear says. "It was Bob who told I-man about Studio One." Studio One, founded by the late great Clement "Coxsone" Dodd, was Jamaica's first Black-owned recording facility, nurturing the careers of a galaxy of future stars. "I told Bob that I wanted to express myself musically; where should I go?" In 1969, he also recommended Studio One. 'Door Peep,' my first song, was recorded there. And the Spear has just kept burning since then."

Spear and Marley were born just a month apart in the same year and grew up in the same Jamaican parish of St. Ann.

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