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Sunday, August 1, 2010

Delaware festivals: Jamming to Marley's legacy on the Riverfront

WILMINGTON -- Reggae legend Bob Marley may have only lived in Wilmington for seven months in 1966, but his first American hometown continues to celebrate his links to the city through song.

That was true for thousands from across the mid-Atlantic who gathered Saturday for the 16th annual Peoples' Festival, a musical tribute to the Jamaican-born cultural icon.
"A lot of people follow Bob Marley for the culture and the music," said Barbara Dantzler of Philadelphia, who attends the festival each year at Tubman-Garrett Riverfront Park. "He's a prophet."
The festival combines Marley's music with Caribbean food and people of different cultures and backgrounds, Dantzler said.
"It's all kind of wrapped into one," said Dantzler, as she enjoyed a plate of fried fish, rice and spicy cabbage.
Before Marley and The Wailers hit the big time, he lived with his mother in Wilmington briefly in 1966, working as a DuPont lab assistant and at the former Chrysler plant in Newark.
While he lived in Wilmington, Marley be came friends with Ibis and Genny Pitts, who founded the Peoples' Festival 16 years ago at the suggestion of Marley's mother, Cedella Marley Booker, who died in 2008. Marley died of cancer in 1981 at age 36.

Year-after-year, the festival's theme focuses on Marley's passion for equal rights, freedom and social justice, especially for Africa.
"That's why we continue to honor that, bringing everybody together in harmony and love," said Empress-Thandi Wise, a Jamaican native from Philadelphia who is involved in organizing the event.
In addition to reggae and some of Marley's best known hits, such as "I Shot The Sheriff," bands played ska, Latin, New Orleans funk and hip-hop music on two stages.
Roots reggae band Midnite headlined the event. King Chang, Taj Weeks, The Skatalites, Adowa Kirk Joseph and the Universal African Drum and Dance Ensemble also performed. Spokey Speaky, a Newark reggae band, and the local ska band the Bullbuckers performed to a crowded lawn of music lovers.


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