Damon “Jr. Gong” Marley’s reggae anthem Welcome to Jamrock never felt so poignant than during the weekend I finally visited the Kingston (Jamrock) epicenter after two decades of travel to the most heartfelt place on Earth I have visited to date — Jamaica. In fact, Jr. Gong recorded the track at his father’s 56 Hope Road studio using the same audio console “Tuff Gong” mixed on in the 70s. More importantly, 56 Hope Road has become the Bob Marley Museum and offers tours to Robert “Nesta” Marley fans, pupils and faithful followers from around the globe. Your reverence for Bob Marley will be rewarded with timeless symbolism, musical artifacts and comprehensive knowledge of his career through the words of a tour guide.
I don’t stand for black man’s side, I don’t stand for white man’s side, I stand for God’s side. — Bob Marley
As a pupil of the “King of Reggae’s” message, legend and body of work, it was endearing to finally visit the place that fills my mind and soul with passion, hunger and the call of duty to spread the One Love unity cry from one of the greatest musicians, poets and sages to grace this planet. Bob Marley was emblematic of peace and wrote songs that changed political positions, unified nations, strengthened the minds of the weak, and encouraged doubters through good vibrations of love and affection. You will be enlightened by Marley’s history as you walk through the award and achievement rooms, witness the culinary items he used to make juices and Irish Moss, peek in the musician’s bedroom which displays his handmade slippers and creative guitar offered by a fan, his chalice and his meditation zone. It was absolutely amazing how everything was still intact after so many years. In fact there are still original bullet holes (from an attempted assassination) in the backroom walls where Marley and his band were rehearsing for the Smile Jamaica concert in December, 1976.
The album Catch a Fire set it afire for Bob Marley and is prominently displayed on the Museum walls along with every other record he recorded. Historical artifacts, concert outfits, a media room decorated with magazine and newspaper articles from around the world continue to edify guests. The exterior of the house features a life sized statue of the legend, a courtyard which used to be Marley’s football (soccer) field and murals of his band members, the Iron Lions of Zion and of course his seven sons. Yes, Mr. Marley was definitely part of the Fit Fathers movement birthing twelve kids in total. Interesting enough, my Jamrock journey was capped off with a live performance by Julian Marley who was in town at the Jazz, Blues and cultural watering hole known as Redbones Café. Coincidence? Certainly not!
Serving as his home until Cancer finally took its toll in 1981; 56 Hope Road also features an 80-seat theater, a gallery, a gift shop and the Legend Café which delights your appetite with Ital (vegan) and traditional Jamaican meals. Open Monday through Saturday from 9:30 am to 4:00 pm, each tour lasts 1 hour and 15 minutes. Non-resident adults pay $20 and children $10.00. The property is closed on Sundays. The cheapest and most hassle free route to Kingston from Montego Bay is the Knutsford Express which is a luxury coach that costs roughly $25 and takes close to four hours in travel time. Or simply fly directly into Jamaica’s capital city by way of Norman Manley International Airport, which is less than twenty minutes from the commercial center of the Caribbean. I stayed at the elegant and quaint Spanish Court Hotel for $160 a night. The property offered all the modern amenities needed for frequent travelers including free Wi-Fi, a 24-hour gym, complimentary breakfast, fine dining and an outdoor pool on the rooftop.
Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery, none but ourselves can free our minds. — Bob Marley’s Redemption Song
Wake Up And Live and plan your next excursion to Kingston, Jamaica while enjoying the warmth of the sun, tantalizing Caribbean waters, prophesizing reggae music and of course a visit to 56 Hope Road to experience life and all its simplicities Bob Marley style. For me, the visit was a moment of introspection and one I will cherish forever. Yet, I’ll be back soon forward.
Visit www.BobMarleyMuseum.com for more details. One Love!
Words by Kimatni D. Rawlins
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