On a balmy midsummer’s night at Lake Tahoe, the regal reggae singer co-headlined a show with 29-year-old New Orleans jazz-rockers Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue. Each band played 11-song, 70-minute sets before an all-ages crowd of about 4,000 at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. Trombone Shorty opened in the daylight at exactly the scheduled 7:30 p.m. start time and Ziggy closed just at Douglas County’s 10:30 p.m. curfew.
Ziggy enveloped his show with songs from Grammy Award-winning albums, opening with “Conscious Party,” the title track from his 1988 record with the Melody Makers, and ending the show with “Fly Rasta,” the title song of this year’s winner for Best Reggae Album.
The 46-year-old, who is Bob Marley’s oldest child, continues to deliver his father’s message of equal rights, freedom and love. Thirty four years after Bob Marley’s death, the issues are more relevant than ever. While Ziggy never used the phrase “Black Lives Matter,” the point was made with the songs “A Fire Burns for Freedom” and “Justice,” which segued into two Bob Marley classics, “War” and “Get Up, Stand Up.”
The message resonated with the crowd, a mix of reggae and jazz lovers dressed in tie dye, paisley, multicolored dresses and jazzy fedoras. While it was a mostly older crowd, there were a lot of families in attendance, some with infants who wore protective earmuffs. This was not the parents’ first reggae rodeo.
Ziggy’s background vocalists added color to the show with their synchronized soul-singers’ dance moves. Ziggy played a Strat as opposed to a Les Paul his dad used. That was cool.
Some folks watched from the woods, gathered in circles of lawn chairs while LED-fired hip-hoops lit up the night. Others just lit up.
Still others huddled at the corner of the Hard Rock hotel, where lucky guests overlooking the parking lot also enjoyed a birds-eye view of the concert. But the best cheap seats may have been on the retaining wall behind the hotel, where tailgaters could see Ziggy jumping about the stage. The acoustics were awesome; the smoke was sweet.
A handful jumped the fence and sprinted through aisles and headed toward the crowd, pursued by security.
Earlier, when Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue arrived onstage with to a smoky backdrop, a pungent smell of grass permeated the arena. Edgewood-Tahoe Golf Course had just been mowed.
It was Trombone Shorty’s third appearance at Tahoe in two years, and his second at South Shore. The band’s huge sound featured four horns, which may be typical in New Orleans but is rare in most other places in the guitar-dominated United States.
A highlight was a cover of Green Day’s “Brain Stew.” Shorty, aka Troy Andrews, has been a bandleader since he was 6-years-old and when he wasn’t playing trombone, he directed his orchestra with arm gestures. He ended the extended jam by holding a note on his horn for the longest time, especially impressive at 6,300 feet.
Concertgoers passed the time during a 45-minute break between set waiting in lines for drinks and taking cellphone photos of the full moon over Heavenly Valley.
Editor’s notes: Photo releases were not provided to the press in time to capture Ziggy Marley’s performance.
Randy Hashagen and Spencer Kilpatrick contributed to this story.
Related story: Q&A with Ziggy Marley LINK