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Spirit of a legend at Bowl

Sunday's reggae show lineup will include Bob Andy, Maxi Priest. Bob Marley's influence to be seen.

July 12, 2012|Katherine Tulich
  • Frederick "Toots" Hibbert at Bowl in 2009.
Frederick "Toots" Hibbert at Bowl in 2009. (Stefano Paltera / For The…)

When you think reggae, the first name that springs to mind is Bob -- Marley, that is, but probably not Bob Andy.

A contemporary of Marley's, the Jamaican-born Andy is making a rare appearance at Sunday's "Legends of Reggae" concert, part of KCRW's World Festival at the Hollywood Bowl." I'm here to put a face to the name," the singer says, laughing.

Considered one of reggae's most influential songwriters, Andy has songs that have been recorded by a variety of artists including Gregory Isaacs, the Specials, Taj Mahal, Maxi Priest and UB40.

The silken-voiced singer whose career spans nearly 50 years will be part of Sunday's salute to the greats of reggae, which also includes Toots and the Maytals, Freddie McGregor, Ziggy Marley and Maxi Priest.

"It's great for us and great for the music to be able to perform with all these people I have admired," says Priest, who happily croons the Bob Andy song he recorded ("Feel the Feeling [Woman]") on the phone from London. "We have all had different experiences, but if it wasn't for people like Andy paving the way, I wouldn't have a road to walk on."

The British-born Priest had worldwide hits with reggae-fusion songs like "Close to You" and "That Girl," and he has just released a career retrospective, "Maximum Collection," which features many songs he has planned for the night's concert. "I love performing in L.A.," he says. "It's really a place that loves reggae music."

"Reggae nights at the Bowl have been really popular for the past 11 years," says Laura Connelly, director of presentations at the L.A. Philharmonic, which coordinates the night. "The music isn't as prevalent as it used to be in the media and radio, but it still has so many dedicated fans. This is a great excuse to come out in the summer and hear a whole night of it at an amazing venue."

For the second year, the L.A. Phil has asked Ziggy Marley to help curate the evening along with acting as emcee and performing with his band. "Ziggy has a huge legacy with his father's music, and he is very involved in giving back," Connelly says. "I think it's the perfect dovetailing of the older generation with the new."

"It is great to highlight other artists," Marley says by phone from a tour stop in Colorado. "Everyone knows my father, Bob Marley, and everyone knows Toots and the Maytals, but it's great to expose people to artists they may not have heard of. I have the chance to get up and talk about their history and to give people some knowledge about them."

While Marley gained a following for his own songs such as "One Bright Day" and "Tomorrow People," he says that he always pays tribute to the music of his father. "I mix it up, but I always do some of his songs like 'Get Up Stand Up' or 'Is This Love,' " he says. "My father's legacy is something I continually keep alive."

"I wouldn't be surprised if there isn't a big finale where we all get to play a little Bob," says Freddie McGregor, who's also on the bill Sunday. A music veteran at 56, McGregor has been performing since he was 7 years old, when he was known as "Little" Freddie and learning from some of Jamaica's greatest musicians.

"I was definitely the baby of the bunch," he says, laughing. "When I recorded my first song, Bob Marley and Bunny Wailer stacked up some beer crates so I could reach the mike. I've learned everything I know today from being around them."

Continually touring since then, McGregor is renowned for his energetic shows. "When we get onstage at the Hollywood Bowl, no one will be sitting. Everybody will be up and dancing," he says.

"We are all definitely there to have a party," says Maxi Priest. "We're there to give the audience an experience so everyone goes home with a smile on their face."

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KCRW's World Festival

Reggae Night: Tuff Gong Worldwide and Ziggy Marley Salute Legends of Reggae

When: 7 p.m. Sunday

Where: Hollywood Bowl, 2301 N. Highland Ave., L.A.

Cost: $12-$106

Info: (323) 850-2000, www.hollywoodbowl.com

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