Dubbed ‘A Night of Reggae Music Under the Stars’, last month’s free concert at the Hollywood’s Arts Park was headlined by Third World, one of the longest-lived and iconic reggae bands the world has ever seen. It was a Reggae and Black History Month 2022 event powered by the Rhythm Foundation and Hollywood Arts Park. The February 6th event was a momentous occasion indeed in that its core mission was to celebrate the lives and legacies of a trio of towering figures in Jamaican music ‘both yard and abroad.’ More than that, it was the big 21-year anniversary of ‘Reggae Runnins’ on South Florida’s Hot 105 FM radio with the one and only Tanto Irie—who was honored with an award as part of the evening’s festivities and proceedings. The Third World Band was complemented by performances of several other artists, including Antigua’s reggae ambassador, Causion, and VC whose smash hit in the early 2000’s, ‘By His Deeds’ (Shall a Man be Known) heated up the reggae airwaves all over the world.
Dennis Emmanuel Brown certainly had a golden voice and was blessed with a magnificent musical gift. Mr. Brown, who was born on February 1, 1957 and passed on July 1, 1999, left an indelible mark on the landscape of reggae music. During his prolific career which began in the late 1960’s at the age of eleven, Dennis Brown not only recorded more that 75 albums over his career, but was also one of the central pillars of the romantic subgenre of reggae music known as ‘lovers rock’. It would be remiss not to point out that, the King of Reggae, Bob Marley, famously cited Dennis Brown as his favorite singer and nicknamed Mr. Brown, the ‘Crown Prince of Reggae’.
Mr. Brown certainly had a golden voice and was blessed with a magnificent musical gift—which proved quite influential for the generations of reggae singers that have since followed. In paying homage to the remarkable life and musical legacy of Dennis Brown, several artists took to the stage to give their own live performance renditions of some of the ‘Crown Prince of Reggae’s’ most memorable and timeless classics, including ‘Here I Come’, ‘Revolution’, ‘Have You Ever Been In Love’, ‘A Little Bit More’, and ‘Sitting and Watching’.
With the night’s festivities centering around Third World also paying homage to Robert Nesta Marley and former lead singer of the band, Bunny Rugs, both of whose birthdays falling on February 6th, the venerable Third World band ensemble took to the stage to a raucous round of applause from the masses that had gathered inside the Hollywood Arts Park. Lead vocalist, A.J. ‘Boots’ Brown was backed in harmony by Stephen ‘Cat’ Coore and Richard ‘Bassie’ Daley as they unleashed ‘Now That We Found Love’, ’96 Degrees in the Shade’, ‘Try Jah Love’ and, of course, ‘Reggae Ambassador’—which A.J. Brown had a lot of fun singing as he threw down some authentic skankin’ dance moves during his performance of the song. The song, ‘Reggae Ambassador’, is a colossal Third World smash hit that was originally made famous by the group’s former husky-voiced lead singer, William “Bunny Rugs” Clarke, who succumbed to leukemia at his home in Orlando, Florida in 2014 at the age of 65.
The unmistakable spiritual vibe of Bob Marley was certainly palpable as several artists took turns in serving up to the captivated audience their renditions of many of Bob Marley’s most unforgettable songs, such as ‘Three Little Birds’, ‘Jammin’, ‘Heathen’, ‘Could You Be Loved’, and ‘Waiting in Vain’. It was nice to see one of the founding members of Bob’s Wailers Band, Lennie Chen, on hand enjoying that particular segment of the show. The canopy of a clear Hollywood, Florida night sky was the perfect setting for the delivery of the Bob’s endearing message of love for Jah Rastafari, Rastafarianism, and peace and unity throughout the world.
Reggae singer, VC, stoked a feeling of nostalgia in taking the stage to deliver several of his top songs, most notably a tune called ‘By His Deeds…Shall a Man be Known’—which was a very popular song in reggae circles in the early 2000’s. Antigua’s ‘Reggae Ambassador’, Causion, also served up some gems as part of his stage performance, including ‘Thankful…for all that you’ve done’. The bass-heavy song holds special significance in that, last year, Causion announced that he surmounted his battle with colon cancer, and that he was glad to be surrounded by so much love while being thankful to Jah for enabling his recovery from the illness.
The night’s happenings also featured a number of awards and accolades given out, including the Mayor of Hollywood, Josh Levy, giving the Third World band the ‘Key to the City’ as well as other tokens of recognition. Indeed, Third World was very appreciative in being recognized in such a grand way and, in accepting, Stephen ‘Cat Coore’ was visibly emotional in expressing his sincere gratitude to all the fans who have supported Third World over its decades-long musical career. In turn, Tanto Irie of South Florida’s Hot 105 FM also garnered awards presented to him by Third World, as well as Mr. Oliver Mair, Jamaica’s Consul General to Miami and Southern U.S.A.
Without a doubt, memorable times were had by all who were in attendance for such a great event that honored the life, legacies, and musical works of a trio of giants in reggae music. The event surely delivered on its promise to present a diverse and eclectic group of performing artists to join Third World in Celebrating the posthumous Earthstrongs of Dennis Brown, Bob Marley, and Bunny Rugs. And, of course the Hollywood Arts Park Amphitheater venue was perfect in that it has arguably become the premier outdoor center for performing arts and entertainment in South Florida—Broward County to be exact.
All photos by Nick Ford, who lives and works in South Florida.