February 6th would have been Bob Marley’s 74th birthday!
Every year around this time, several venues in the area have concerts celebrating Marley and his music. For the Ardmore Music Hall, this is the 3rd year in a row that they have had a reggae concert in honor of Marley’s birthday. Next week, we’ll be attending Spokey Speaky’s 8th Annual Bob Marley Birthday Show at The Queen in Wilmington, DE.
If you’d like to learn more about Bob Marley, check out the post I wrote last year about the reggae legend.
This year’s celebration at the Ardmore Music Hall featured a performance by Junior Marvin, who was a member of Marley’s band the Wailers. In fact, Marvin still tours with the Wailers on a regular basis.
The weather here in the Northeast has been frigid, so it was a great time to hear some reggae music and dream of the warm Jamaican sun. Keep reading and join me for a little bit of Jamaica in the middle of winter!
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The Ardmore Music Hall is in Ardmore, PA. Ardmore is in the western suburbs of Philadelphia, just about 20 minutes outside the city.
The venue was opened in 1980 as 23 East Cabaret. During that time, it hosted shows by then unknown artists such as Dave Matthews Band, Blues Traveler, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Hootie & the Blowfish. In 1995, the venue changed its name to Brownies 23 East. During that period, mostly cover and local bands played the venue, but it did host some nationally known acts such as Cheap Trick and Los Lobos.
As of 2013, the venue changed names once again to its current name – The Ardmore Music Hall. The venue is independently owned and operated. Chris Perella and Tom Linquist took over bookings for the venue in 2014, and have focused on diversifying the music and events that are held there.
Tip #1: The venue is not operated by Live Nation, so while there is still a fee on tickets, it’s not as much as Ticketmaster. To avoid the fees completely, buy your tickets at the box office. The box office is open Tuesday through Friday from 12 – 5 p.m., or during all public events. Note that if you go to the box office during the day, simply ring the bell on the front door (along Lancaster Avenue), and someone will be out to let you in.
Tip #2: Ardmore has some great little restaurants in the downtown area, which is where the venue is located. We’ve eaten at El Limon several times, which serves great Mexican food. Ardmore is also home to Tired Hands Brewing Company, which is very popular with the craft beer crowd. If you go to the Tired Hands Fermentaria (they have two locations), it’s directly across the street from the venue. You can park at the Fermentaria (you have to pay the meter until 6 pm on weekdays), and just walk to the venue.
Tip #3: If you don’t have time to go somewhere for dinner before the show, the venue also serves food. The menu is limited – snacks and sandwiches – but I’ve eaten there before and the food is good.
Tip #4: As mentioned, Ardmore is in the western suburbs of Philadelphia. Note that there is a SEPTA lot directly behind the venue. You used to be able to park there for free after 5:00 p.m. However, we were told by a staff member last night that you can no longer park there. There are metered lots in the area, as well as street parking. If you are coming from other areas, you can take SEPTA regional rail. The Ardmore station is just 100 feet away.
Tip #5: The venue has a couple different show arrangements – full general admission, full seated, partial seated, etc. Make sure to understand the seating arrangement for the show you are going to, and buy your tickets accordingly. If you have reserved seating tickets, you get earlier entry into the venue as well.
BIG MIND AND JAH PEOPLE
ABOUT THE ARTISTS
Both of the opening artists are Philadelphia-based reggae bands. I’ve seen Jah People several times playing local shows. Philadelphia is lucky to have such a vibrant reggae music scene.
ABOUT THE SHOW
Big Mind took the stage first. The started playing at 8:00 p.m. and played until about 8:45 p.m. Their music had a nice groove to it. In fact, a couple of the songs were pretty mellow.
Jah People was the second opener and took the stage shortly after 9:00 p.m. While they are a local band, Jah People has been playing together for a long time, and it really shows.
Their set was a combination of Bob Marley covers and their originals. They fill the stage with their band members, and filled the room with their amazing reggae music.
A few songs into their set they got a huge surprise – Junior Marvin came up on stage and sang a song with them! What a treat for the audience, and for the band!
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Junior Marvin is best known for being the guitarist for Bob Marley and The Wailers. Born in Jamaica, Marvin moved to London as a child, where he developed his skills as a musician and actor. In fact, Marvin appeared in the Beatles’ film “Help”, as well as a number of other television appearances.
In 1973, Marvin formed the band Hanson. They recorded two albums. Then in 1977, Marvin met Bob Marley and joined Bob Marley and The Wailers. He continued to play with Marley until Marley’s death in 1981.
After Bob Marley’s death, Marvin along with the other members of The Wailers carried on under the name The Wailers Band. The band released four albums before Marvin left the band in 1997. Marvin relocated to Brazil, where he formed the band Batuka.
Batuka didn’t last long, nor did Marvin’s time in Brazil. Since that time, Marvin has worked as a session musician as well as traveling with multiple variations of the original musicians that made up The Wailers. Marvin is currently touring as a solo artist with his own band he calls The Wailers.
In true reggae fashion, Marvin didn’t take the stage until about 10:45 p.m. (almost past my bedtime!). He kicked off the show with two Bob Marley classics – “Rastaman Vibration” and “I Shot The Sheriff”.
While the musicians playing with Marvin may not have been the original Wailers, they were talented in their own right. They did mostly stay in the background, with the exception of his two back-up singers. They were highlighted and took lead vocals on both “Turn Your Lights Down Low” and “Waiting In Vain”.
Marvin gave the crowd exactly what they wanted – a set list full of Bob Marley favorites that they could dance and sing along to. While the show didn’t provide much in the way of Marley deep cuts, it was a set that appealed to even the most casual Marley fan.
The show was truly a celebration of Bob Marley’s life and the genre of music that he helped expose the rest of the world to. Before Bob Marley, reggae music didn’t really leave Jamaica. To close out the show, Marvin invited Jah People back on stage for a great version of “Jammin'”.
Jah People were clearly thrilled to have this once in a lifetime experience to play on stage with a reggae legend like Junior Marvin. However, Marvin seemed to be equally honored to share the stage with Jah People. Marvin talked about how he had become best friends with Jah People after talking to them just a few times on the phone.
As a surprise, Jah People presented Marvin with a guitar that they had bought for him.
Marvin joked that believe it or not, he couldn’t afford to buy a guitar like this for himself, because he was paying for his kids’ higher education. He also said that he would treasure the guitar and keep it forever. It was a really special moment!
After the show, Marvin spent quite a bit of time greeting his fans, including taking pictures and shaking hands.
It was a great night of reggae music and a wonderful celebration of Bob Marley’s life and legacy!
Set List (click on any link to purchase the song directly on Amazon – all songs are the Bob Marley original versions): Rastaman Vibration, I Shot the Sheriff, Stir It Up, War/No More Trouble, Turn Your Lights Down Low, Waiting In Vain, No Woman No Cry, Three Little Birds, Lively Up Yourself, The Heathen, Exodus, Redemption Song, Get Up Stand Up, One Love, Message of Love, My Friend, Jammin’
Are you a Bob Marley fan? What do you think about the legendary music as performed by Junior Marvin and The Wailers? Let us know what you think by commenting below or e-mailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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