Fresh off of a Grammy nomination for Best Reggae Album of the year for “Awake,” Julian “JuJu” Marley, via Miami, will play Saint Rocke in Hermosa Beach Jan. 19.
“Awake” is Marley’s third record, and it took some time to get this one out since his last — about four years - but the Grammy nod suggests it was worth the wait.
During the time he was putting together the latest album, his family lost a matriarch when Bob Marley’s mother, Cedella Booker, died in 2008 at age 81. The record was a small way of commemorating her life.
“I think the music got even more spiritual without having to really do anything about it,” he said of the creative process. “We can’t just come and speak about what we do today, (because) many people have lived before we and many people come in again still after we.
“There is so many things to talk about, so many things that we’ve learned from the elders that we still have to spread the message that same way,” he added.
In a voice reminiscent of his late father, Marley explained how, large or small, the venue is unimportant when it comes to his shows, because either way “the spot is going to be rocking — roots-rocking,” he said.
“It’s all about the music. Once you start to play the music, no matter how much space you’ve got, you’re going to have to dance and listen to words of culture.”
Born in 1975 in London, Marley was just 6 years old when his father died. He said he doesn’t have too many memories of his reggae-legend of a dad, but clearly recalls being at a concert at Crystal Palace in London in 1980. While growing up, he would listen to his father’s albums daily and watch old concert footage, likening it to a school’s curriculum.
Knowing his father’s music well gave Marley a stronghold on why his legacy lives on.
“I think it’s his words … When you do God’s work, you live forever. You can’t die,” he said. “You have nature and you have digital — a digital circuit can burn out, but the Earth keeps on producing food and life every day.”
He added, “So for me, my father’s work is like nature, it’s so natural, (like) everyday life, so it doesn’t matter where you are, who you are, what you are — the music will relate to you.”
Of the Grammy nomination, Marley said it brought on good feelings to be acknowledged for his music. He goes up against Buju Banton, Sean Paul and his brother Stephen, who won the award last year for “Mind Control.”
“It makes you feel like you’re doing something positive … like this is what I should be doing. It’s not like I need to do something else, which will never be the case,” he said. “It gives me a positive feeling, and (say), ‘Let’s make some more music and (put out) more positive messages.”
Backed by the Uprising Band, which features a longtime reggae player, Aston “Family Man” Barrett Jr., who played with the Wailers, Marley said to expect his new songs highlighting the set list next Tuesday, but no doubt he will be playing a few classics, including some of his late father’s.
Saint Rocke is located at 142 Pacific Coast Highway in Hermosa Beach. For more information, visit www.saintrocke.com.