TVD Live: Junior Marvin, 9/22 at IOTA

Last Thursday, a real party went down at IOTA Club and Cafe in Arlington, Virginia. Those who were there were touched by the spirit of Bob Marley. For those who missed it, I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt because somewhere and sometime soon Junior Marvin will put on a show you can’t miss. You can’t sleep on it.

Junior Marvin was one of the original members of Bob Marley and The Wailers. Many members of the band have died, but Marvin’s show carries the special message of unconditional love through roots reggae music and his late colleagues who helped fashion it.

Marvin is a guitarist with a penchant for sound. When the band came on stage it took very little effort to give Marley’s roots reggae a contemporary slant.

The band opened with its first jam, “Stir It Up.” Marvin received cheers, unanimously, from a mixed crowd of students, wonks, hippies, Asians, blacks, Hispanics, whites, old folks, young hipsters, devotees, newbies, etc. Everyone bounced, rocked, and swayed to the fiery rocksteady anthem. Marvin and his guitarists fretted, twisted, and bent notes much to the allure of the crowd. His percussionists struck, shook, and scraped their instruments to beating hearts that filled the miniature space. Most of the songs were Bob Marley standards, but new arrangements were added to each of them.

The show’s set production was as taut as a drum skin. The band—all men, except an older woman in Sunday African garb—packed that stage like an Afrobeat band. The bass drum exploded and reverberated from wall to wall. Marvin and the band played Marley’s nostalgic pieces like “I Shot the Sheriff” and “Jamming” then from his album, Wailin’ for Love, played “Life Without You,” a tribute to Marley.

There were hints of ’70s rock in the show, too. With his guitar in hand, Marvin struck a chord that ended with sharp amp feedback that might recall Jimi Hendrix. Last week when I chatted with Marvin, he briefly mentioned Roger Mayer, an acoustic engineer and collaborator, who developed guitar sound effects that became trademarks for Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, and Hendrix. Marvin and his guitarists paid somewhat of a tribute.

Die-hard Bob Marley fans know that shows that pay tribute to the late singer aren’t just sing-a-longs. Junior Marvin’s show is no exception to the expectation. You have to work hard to get the full effect of the music.

Exodus,” the last song played was very appropriate. The song says, “movement of the people.” You have to make like “Exodus.” Junior Marvin attributes all of his music to an addictive drug—and I’m not talking about ganja. I’m talking about love.

Junior Marvin will be the first to admit the music of his countrymen was made to get you excited—to make you dance and pass on a wholesome energy to the people around you. It’s low hanging fruit. Feel it.

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  • Julian Junior Marvin


    • Rita

      Another one that I can’t attend.  I am 5 hours away and I am starting a class on 11/12.  I am hoping you will have more shows close by.

  • Chromespokes

    Another show is planned for November

  • Anonymous

    I went to get down, and it pumped me up. I was alone in a crowd, and I felt One Love.


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