Kayafest, held in Miami’s Bayfront Park this year, was a celebration…

Kayafest, held in Miami’s Bayfront Park this year, was a celebration…

Photos and article by Rock ‘N’ Robin’s

Kayafest, held in Miami’s Bayfront Park this year, is a celebration of several facets. First, it’s the birthday of Stephen, the Second Son of the musical prophet and spiritual leader, Bob Marley. Also, it’s a celebration of the healing herb, marijuana. In fact, Kayafest brings people from all over the world to get together for an herbal and musical celebration of our lives. Therefore, this is a celebration of the life and legacy of the great Bob Marley and the entire Marley Family, which includes a world of musicians, singers, technicians, engineers, managers, and of course, fans. 

In its third year, the fest just keeps getting better. As a veteran of the two previous Kayafests, (last year’s held in San Bernadino, California,) it’s easy to compare all of the festivals so far. The Miami venue is much friendlier, easier to navigate, and much less frantic. The food trucks offered better variety this year: Ital food was available as well. There were so many food vendors that the lines were not horribly long. There were also ranks of beautiful choices in the merchandise tents as well, offering services, education, and all manner of goods from head-shop essentials and clothing to wellness balms. Art abounded as well as activities for children and offered focus for activists. 

The cool and mostly cloudy day of the performances cooperated with the skilled teams it took to make this festival a success. The doors opened at noon, with new recording sensation Koffee hitting the stage at 1:30. From then on, it seemed as though things ran very smoothly – by the end of the evening and heading into the main event – five Marley Brothers on stage with many important veteran support musicians and singers including among others the well established Squidly Cole – whom I first witnessed playing with Jimmy Cliff and Peter Tosh in the early 70’s – through the veteran bassist Christopher Meredith, producer and keyboardist Llamar Brown, support singers Rica Newell and Rochelle Bradshaw, Marley guitarist and songwriter Ranoy Gordon to the younger and extremely capable stylings of Elton B, and Sheirita both of whom have recently released their own new recordings, the show remained very close to scheduling times. 
The line up this year was: 

The vibe was positive and Upful day and night. There were surprises: DJ Khaled, an unexpected addition, dropped in for a short set. A city official from the Miami mayor’s office stopped by to present the key to the City, which was accepted on behalf of the Family by Skip Marley, son of Bob’s daughter, Cedella. Before we were graced with the Sons of Bob, we were treated to short sets by Steven’s daughter Mystic Marley, then his son Yohan, and also a short set from Skip Marley. Another daughter of Stephen, Shacia Marley held a DJ dancehall court all day in the guise of Constance Bubble. Nattali Rize was seen to drop in and twist out a few dances. 

Back on the main stage, after the Marley’s performed it was Pitbull’s turn. Just as I was mentally lamenting there hadn’t been enough time on stage for Stephen Marley, he came out and performed “Options” with Pitbull. And the crowd roared! 

It’s true that festivals can be exhausting. But with grass to lay on, spots of shade, tents to shop in, plenty of things to drink – including water In eco packaging and paper straws – there were many ways to find relief from normal festival pressures. Add to that the great performance of veterans Third World, Sean Paul, Davido and the iconic Busta Rhymes, there was a high buzz on the grounds all day. Keeping in mind the healing aspects as well as the recreational aspects of marijuana as a focus of the show made itself evident in the way people utilized the plant throughout the day. 

This was truly a celebration of the life of Bob Marley. And Stephen Marley. And a celebration of ours – a celebration of our lives. Thank you, Stephen Marley, for another great day, and an intelligent approach to making known the efficacy of the plant we so long have neglected. This Kayafest was well orchestrated and well received. Try to not miss the next one! 


Ky- Mani Marley

Yohan Marley

Sky High

DJ Khaled

Stephen and Judah

Skip Marley

Yohan Marley

Mystic Marley


Busta Rhymes

Ziggy Marley


Julian and Ky Mani Marley

Stephen, Ziggy and Damian

Jr Gong

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