COURTESY INSIGHT EDITIONS
Ky-Mani Marley, left, pays Roger Steffens a visit at his Los Angeles home.
Longtime Bob Marley chronicler still evolving
It's always been Roger Steffens' dream to do his popular show on the life and times of Bob Marley (pictured) on the man's actual birthday, and at Steffens' favorite tour stops.
'Bob Marley Birthday Celebration with Roger Steffens'
Where: The Doris Duke Theatre, Honolulu Academy of Arts
When: 7:30 p.m. Wednesday
Tickets: $12, $10 for Academy members
Call: 531-8700 or online at honoluluacademy.org
Consider it done. The previous times he's visited Honolulu, Steffens has regaled audiences with first-hand remembrances and tales of the late reggae icon, showing rare concert and interview footage.
Steffens promises to include more music when he returns to the islands Wednesday, Marley's birthday. Plus he'll be promoting a new book he did with photographer Peter Simon, "Reggae Scrapbook."
The book, to be sold at the show, is an all-encompassing and entertaining history of Jamaica's musical export, chock-full of Steffens' many stories, as well as his and Simon's archival photos, ranging from reggae's earliest days to its current dance hall popularity.
"The book came together quickly," Steffens said last week from his Los Angeles home. Peter Simon approached him at Christmas in 2006 and Steffens gave Simon access to his archive. "It was a big venture, with a huge staff helping me get through my collection. The owner of the publishing house Insight Editions told me to push the envelope as much as you can, so the book's designer lived with (me and my family) for a week."
The result is an imaginatively laid-out book. Steffens and the book designer came up with such things as a foldout time line of Bob Marley's life, plus special envelopes filled with ephemera, including replicas of Steffens' archives of post cards, backstage passes, tickets, autographed playlists and stickers. Also included is an hourlong DVD with highlights from Steffens' Los Angeles cable show, "L.A. Reggae," consisting of interviews with Peter Tosh, Judy Mowatt, Luciano and members of Marley's Wailers band.
"It's a celebration of Jamaican culture with a worldwide perspective," he said. "Also I didn't want it to be all Pollyanna, since the music comes out of a violent culture, so the book mentions Junior Reid's death and includes a United Press International bulletin of Peter Tosh's murder.
"It's been two long years since I've done anything in Hawaii about Bob. Since that time, I've been to some signal events. I was called to testify on the behalf of Wailer band member Aston 'Family Man' Barrett at the 2006 trial in London, where he sued the Marley estate for millions of dollars in back royalties. ...
"I can promise you a much fuller show than I've ever done. During my talks between film clips, there'll be a constant procession of unpublished Marley photographs projected behind me, and my intro will be an eight-minute minihistory, with audio from alternate tracks and a previously unheard demo track from Marley.
"My show has matured in a lot of ways, as I constantly learn more about the man every day."