in sessions at west 54th Has anyone ever been to a private rehearsal for Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers?? Well if you have, then you know how it felt for the lucky ones that were able to get into the taping of the "Sessions at 54th Street" show on Sept. 9, 1999 in New York City.

It took a lot of effort to get on the list for this show. Many phone calls, emails and faxes eventually got me a phone call from the studio telling me that I was on the list. Words can't explain the excitement that I felt, because I knew that this would be a once in a lifetime kind of experience. As soon as I rounded the corner on to 53rd St. to line up before the show, I saw the tour buses parked on the street, and excitement filled the air. Before the show I was walking around, checking things out, when I saw Julian and Damian standing by the bus. I said Hi to them, and not long after, saw Ziggy walking from the studio, to a photo shoot.I was lucky enough to say Hi to him, and shake his hand. The whole Marley family was so accessible, just walking around the street, hanging around by the tour was great to see them in this type of a setting.

The show was taped at Sony Music Studios. The stage was set up in the middle, and chairs were in a circle around it. The seats were only 3 rows deep, with some extra seating in some sections. This is one of the most intimate settings that I have ever seen a show in. It felt like I was sitting on the stage with the band. John Hiatt was the host of the show, and he came out to introduce the band. Ziggy and the band started with "Feeling Irie", and then went right into "Beautiful Day", perfect song to open this special event.( Can someone tell me why "Beautiful Day" is not a huge hit? Call your local radio stations, and request this song....its better than most music I hear on the radio these days.) Then they played an amazing version of "Natural Mystic", one of my favorite Bob Marley songs. Steven took over with "Jah Bless", and then, Ziggy sang the haunting "Gone Away" from the new CD, followed by "Rainbow Country". Next they did 2 more new songs: Steven sang "One Good Spliff", and then the inspirational "Higher Vibration".

I believe that at this point, the tapes had to be changed, and the band was told to wait a few minutes before playing again.Intsead of just standing around, Ziggy started to play the riff from "Redemption Song", and the rest of the band quickly joined in. This spontaneous jam was amazing, and it was great to hear Ziggy sing these powerful words of his father. The band then continued with there biggest hit "Tomorrow People", and then Steven sang another song written by his father "You've Got My Love(All Day, All Night), which also appears on the "Spirit Of Music" CD. "Look Who's Dancing" was next, and it felt kind of weird not to be up and moving to this song. Because it was a TV taping, and there were cameras every where, the audience had to remain seated during the show. It's very strange to sit down through an entire ZMMM show. "Africa Unite" was next....."We are the children of the Rasta Man" they sang!! "People Get Ready" was next, which really gave Cedella, Sharon, and Erica a chance too shine, singing and dancing with all of their usual energy. I must say that the Marley Girls really had my attention throughout the show, they are so talented, entertaining, and beautiful...I could not take my eyes off of them. The band next did a great version of "Jammin'", and ended the show with the uplifting "Born To Be Lively". It was so difficult NOT to jump up during Steven's Raps, that I found myself dancing in my seat.

I have seen Ziggy and the band a number of times in the past, over the past few tours. After I saw them at the Central Park Summerstage, I was amazed at how happy and upbeat they all seemed, especially Ziggy. I've never seen him smile so much, and this show was no exception. The band really was enjoying themselves, and having a great time.I have read some things saying that he is much happier now, and is very happy with the new album, and it really shows. "Spirit Of Music" may be a departure for Ziggy, but it is a heartfelt album that deserves to be promoted. These words need to be heard. I have read that Ziggy was thinking of quitting music before this album, and I have to say that I am so glad that he didn't. "Spirit Of Music" has not left my CD player since the day after the Central Park show, and it is a fantastic album. I feel very lucky to have been one of the few hundred people that were chosen to be a part of this event, and can't wait until it airs.

I encourage everyone to look in their local TV listing's on PBS to find out when this show airs. They did not tell us when it will be on, but they did say that the new season starts Oct. 1st. Check the website to find the local stations that air this show.

Jah Bless

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