For a town that has a lot of people decrying it as bereft of “things to do,” this weekend — specifically this Saturday — is shaping up to be quite the opposite.
That packed lineup include reggae music icons Ziggy Marley and Steel Pulse, who will play Spectrum Ampitheatre at The Park at The River Walk.
Marley is on tour in support of his seventh and latest album, “Rebellion Rises," a protest album in the best tradition of reggae protest albums, including those released by Marley’s father, the legendary Bob Marley.
Opening track “See Dem Fake Leaders” is an honest assessment of failed leadership that sets the tone for the rest of the album. When he sings the lyric “some people taking advantage and some people taken advantage of,” he’s talking about leaders across the board.
“Politicians, they know what they're doing," Marley said in a phone interview. "They know how to gut the system. They know the vulnerability of the people and they know how to push the buttons for their own gain, not for the people's gain, not for the American people's profit but for their own power and their own vices. They're not working for the people. They’re working for themselves, you know?”
The album is Marley's call to power for the people told from the perspective of a world traveler, musician and immigrant. It’s Marley’s strongest solo album and, no doubt, would have made his father proud.
“It’s about encouraging humanity to stand up for for the better parts of ourselves and also it is represented the voice of humanity in music,” Marley said.
“The goodness in humanity needs to be more vocal, needs to be more present, more visual so that the world can know that there are more people in humanity that love each other than hate each other. There is more goodness in humanity than there is bad. I think humanity is misrepresented a lot in the media, in politics and in religion … So we want to represent that.”
A call for resistance through peace without yielding is the album's central theme and best encompassed in the songs "Circle Of Peace," "The Storm Is Coming," the title track and the dynamic “World Revolution.” Every song on the album is incredibly strong and I predict it will earn Marley another Grammy Award next year.
“The people have lost their true voice because the money is the voice," Marley said. "Politics have become so divisive that the United States is no longer the United States — it is the divided states of America more than the United States and that is a problem for all of us.”
But almost smack-dab in the middle of the album is the track “I Will Be So Glad,” which is a slight breather amid all the rumination. Thematically, it’s in line with the rest of the record, but sonically it alternates between a sunny feel with hints of 1960s rocksteady — percolating guitars and all — and a menacing B-section hinting at the unrest bubbling underneath.
“I like that song a lot, actually,” Marley said. “It is old school-ish. I started writing that song many many years ago — around 20 years ago. So, yeah, I think I wanted to have a good time in the middle of all of this rebellion. It's kind of a lighter side of the album.”
The concert this Saturday finds Marley, who turns 50 in October, with a renewed creative vigor and a heightened sense of awareness and connection that comes from a mix of age, observation and reflection. You'll still hear his hits like "Tomorrow People," but it's the new material that will have the most lingering impact. Marley’s present call to rebellion is a peaceful one, but not passive; hopefully leaving a sense of awareness in his audience even after the irie vibes and dancing are done.
“Right now, the direction that we're headed in ... it's not beneficial to the majority of people," Marley said. "The needs of the few cannot outweigh the needs of the many; it is the needs of the many that need to be addressed. Most of us want to live together. Most of us don't care what religion you are. We want our agenda to be the priority instead of the agenda of those who are racist, of those who are divisive, or those who hate or those that want war. So that's why the rebellion calls upon … our voices and with our actions so that the world can know that we exist — people of good will, people who want peace — and we want our needs to be met, you know?”
Across town at Rabobank Theater, indie-rock renaissance man Jack White will perform Saturday with his current band, featuring the fantastic Carla Azar on drums, in support of his current record, “Boarding House Reach.”
Just a heads up: White has barred the use of cellphones at his concerts, so I’d recommend you don't take them to the theater. For those that need to have their phones on them, they’ll be left with you but stowed away in locked pouches supplied by the company Yondr. If you need to use your phone, once you’re outside of the “phone-free zone” the bag will be unlocked so you can do so.
It’s a practice that’s been used with more frequency by performers like Dave Chappelle and Alicia Keys. If it sounds torturous to you to be away from your phone for so long, think of the alternative: You’ll still get to see the concert, just not through a screen. Who knows? Maybe it’ll be good to unplug for a while.
Ziggy Marley with Steel Pulse, 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Spectrum Amphitheatre, The Park at River Walk, 11200 Stockdale Highway. $26.50-$79.50 at axs.com.
Jack White, 8 p.m. Saturday, Rabobank Theater, 1001 Truxtun Ave. $39.50-$79.50 at axs.com or 852-7300.
Asleep at the Wheel, 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Buck Owens’ Crystal Palace, 2800 Buck Owens Blvd. $25 at ev12.evenue.net.
Asleep at the Wheel has been nothing but driven since its start in the 1970s and hasn't shown any sign of slowing down. Frontman Ray Benson and his Austin-based collective have performed here many times over the years and will return to the Crystal Palace stage Thursday to deliver an entertaining intersection of country music and swing. They are an incredible band.
Anyone looking for a good night filled with even better music better hurry up: As of press time, there were only around 30 tickets left and counting down. The band provides a consistently good show and a great way to take a night off from the hustle and calamity outside those venue doors and do a little sleeping at the wheel yourself. You’ll love the soundtrack.