Four decades after Bob sang Africa Unite and received the 1978 UN Peace Medal from the organisation’s Senegalese Youth Ambassador, his original band is back together for the festival’s Celebrating Africa edition to be held August 12 to 19 in Benicassim, Castellón, Spain.
Foundation Wailers members Aston ‘Familyman’ Barrett (bass), Tyrone Downie (keyboards), Junior Marvin and Donald Kinsey (guitars) reconvene to perform music that literally changed the world by inspiring African independence. Joining them on drums is Aston Barrett Junior, Familyman’s son and nephew of original drummer, the late Carlton ‘Carly’ Barrett. Also representing the next generation is backing vocalist Shema McGregor, daughter of the I Threes’ Judy Mowatt and Bob’s 12 Tribes colleague Freddie McGregor.
Live mixing engineer will be Dennis Thompson, the man responsible for the Wailers’ sound in venues and studios throughout the 70s. And, as if that wasn’t enough, the second keyboardist is Noel Davey, co-creator of the Sleng Teng rhythm that popularised digital dancehall (following the early digital drum experiments of the Wailers on songs like Rainbow Country and No Woman No Cry).
Continuing the Marley theme on the Main Stage will be Bob’s son Ky-Mani, who performs with German superstar Gentleman. Also announced this year are fearlessly inventive British reggae band Steel Pulse, globally popular Senegalese singer Youssou NDOUR, and figurehead of Jamaica’s current roots reggae movement, Chronixx.
They will be joined by veteran acoustic reggae collective Inna De Yard, devout Rasta messenger Luciano and Seun Kuti, son of Afrobeat innovator Fela. Pioneering populariser of the deejay phenomenon, U Roy, and its first openly Rasta star, Big Youth, perform with UK dub genius Mad Professor. Expect fire and judgement over heavy bass-lines from foundation group the Twinkle Brothers and smooth singing from two golden voices in Don Carlos and Christopher Martin.
Also on the 2017 Main Stage line-up are uncompromising Bristol veterans Black Roots, Californian reggae band Stick Figure, and the mind-bending dub sounds of London’s African Head Charge.
Female vocalists are represented by Jamaican child prodigy turned academic and dancehall hit-maker Nadine Sutherland, Kenyan born, Germany-based singer Treesha and Nukulee Dube, daughter of South African reggae legend Lucky Dube.