Date: Friday, February 10th 2012
Line up: Groundation, HI Roots. Bob Marley Tribute Tour
Location: Belly Up Tavern. Solana Beach, CA
As the sun went down, and the moon started to rise over a sleepy Southern California town, the Belly Up Tavern was preparing for a night of pure reggae music. Standing on the outskirts of the venues entrance, fans began to line up one by one. For what reason? To celebrate the life of a legend in reggae music, Mr. Bob Marley himself.
Hailing from Northern California, Groundation, the headlining band marked their seventh show on an eleven stop tour for their tribute to Bob Marley. Marking Groundation’s 12th annual Tribute to Bob Marley, Groundation has gone from playing from a selection of 40 Marley songs, now reaching over 100 melodies from the legend himself. Starting their tour off in Oakland, California, Groundation cruised down the California coast, stopping in Solana Beach for a double feature playing both Thursday and Friday night at the Belly Up Tavern. February 6th being the birthday of Bob Marley inspired the members of Groundation to dedicate the month of February to playing a varied selection of Bob Marley tunes, ranging from everyone’s favorite classics including Jammin, One Love, and Duppy Conqueror, to Concrete Jungle, One Drop, and the list is as long as it is timeless.
Opening band, HI Roots, brought “Love coming from the 808 state”. Setting the vibe and getting the crowd pumped, HI Roots, an eight person band, all of who come from the islands of Hawaii, kicked the party off right. Singing of “Sugar Cane Dreams”, Hawaiian reggae music and their island inspired influence always has a way of keeping spirits high and inspiring a touch of Aloha into the fans.
The crowd began to draw closer to the stage as Hi Roots wrapped up their 45 minute set, and by the time that Groundation took the stage, the Belly Up Tavern was packed from the front to the back, and side to side. Everyone singing and dancing along to their favorite Bob Marley tunes. Due to the small capacity of the Belly Up Tavern, it was an intimate night for the fans and the musicians alike. With girls purses being set at the front of the stage, and about a 5 foot distance from the band to the fans, the sound-waves were picked up and kept everyone in the reggae loving mood from start to finish.
Harrison Stafford, the lead vocalist for Groundation, harmonized impeccably with the instrumentals. The two female vocalists, coming from the home land of Jamaica, kept the dancing groove going all night and their vocals and melodies swooned the crowd for the entire night. Groundation’s set truly exemplified the Bob that we have all grown to know and love.
Polynesian Underground hosted the event and had a successful night of gathering the reggae community together as they always do. Polynesian Underground promotes music ranging from California, to Hawaii, and all the way to Guam, bringing a lot of exposure to all the reggae that exists from stateside to islandwide.
In addition to playing their Bob Marley tribute songs, Groundation also pleased their fans with some of their original tracks that will be featured on their new album that is releasing at the end of March. Special guests were brought on stage throughout their set, to add variety to the evening.
By all means, the Belly Up Tavern was home to some of the highest vibes and energetic crowds for a night of music that will continue to transcend through generations to come. Without the message and music of Bob Marley, where would the reggae scene be today? It is an admirable and celebratory tour that Groundation makes each year, and it will be exciting to continue to see where they take their music. Currently, Groundation has a large fan base located outside of the United States, being favored highly throughout France. Noting a fan from the evening, Michelle mentioned that “no matter where you go, Bob Marley’s music will always be a part of life, and Groundation made him feel alive through their music tonight.”