Ziggy Marley

To say reggae has taken strong root in Hawaii is an epic understatement. The genre has permeated most facets of local living, and Mauians run the gamut from those who make it an essential part of their identity to those who utterly despise it. Wherever you might fall in that range, reggae is impossible to ignore. Birthed on an island, a rhythmic phoenix from the fire of oppression, reggae long ago gained international recognition. 

While young people from Japan to the suburban Midwest have created their own Bob-centric subcultures, Hawaii residents vehemently claim reggae as their own. Perhaps it’s because the music speaks to the soul of the islander and preaches messages of spiritual sovereignty and awakening that make intrinsic sense to island-dwellers.

Bob Marley’s firstborn son, Ziggy, returns to Maui this week. Hosting top artists from around the globe, Marley and friends will assuredly draw a sell-out crowd to the War Memorial Stadium. Though reggae’s popularity here regularly brings big names, a show from the genre’s motherland—especially one boasting the Marley name—is a rare treat. 

Ahead of his Hawaii tour, I spoke with Ziggy direct from his Tuff Gong headquarters and asked if he’d have the chance for any downtime while on Maui. “Well, I would call it up time,” he replied. “I spend a lot of time [on Maui]. Even when I’m not coming there to play music, I like to just relax out there…The people have a lot of good vibes and loving spirit—we dig that.”

In addition to the evening concert, Ziggy will play a special benefit show titled “Family Time Party”; proceeds benefit the Pacific Whale Foundation’s “No Child Left Indoors” program. At that performance, Ziggy will play tracks off of his latest release, Family Time.

I asked if he had any advice for budding artists who might seek to emulate him. “Don’t look to do what I do—look to do what you do,” he responded in his soulful, rolling Jamaican lilt. “I do it, first thing, because it is something that is helpful. But most importantly it is something I believe I’ve been given to do. It is not a thing that I choose. It is not a thing I got up one day and say, I’m gonna write certain songs and it’s going to mean this and mean that, and there’s a strategy. It’s just something that fall upon me, and I accept it and I move with it.”

Family Time boasts an array of collaborations, from Paul Simon to local girl Paula Fuga. “All the collaborations we did was special,” says Ziggy. “It is a great honor and privilege for me. I have much respect for all the artists on the album.”

Asked what’s inspiring him now, Marley replies, “The Earth. Plants.” As proof of this, his Hawaii shows are going green—all food and beverage accoutrements will be made of bio-compostable material. 

So what can nighttime audiences expect from the Sunday performance, in addition to the eco-friendly wares and accompanying acts like Joseph Israel (go to mauitime.com for MTW’s interview with Joseph) and Rovleta Fraser? Says Ziggy: “Good vibes, you know. Love and good things. Positive things.” Fair enough. Maui Time Weekly, Anu Yagi