After many years asleep, metaphorically as well as physically, I actually was awake this year when the clock struck midnight on January 1st 2019 at the utmost of amazing venue, The House Of Blues Orlando. The weather was something out of a dream, with an incredible sunset as friends near and far gathered into the building. We smoked that place out so loud it didn’t stand a chance. As soon as we got to the HOB, I began to recognize and spot friends from California, New York, Boston, South Carolina and Tennessee… just to name a few. It was absolutely ridiculous in the best of ways. I have never been welcomed by so many ‘strangers’ quite like that. It could have also been attributed to the edibles; I will never know.
Stick Figure was the main attraction and from the jump, they had us glued to the intensely lit stage…
The Ries Brothers threw a show together that set the bar exceedingly high for the night. These young men are not to be slept on or overlooked. They have prodigal talent and a soft, kindness about themselves. As for NYE, Kevin Ries got shirtless, Charlie sang his pretty little heart away and they had Jsmiles and Gary Dread up to jam, as well. Who could ask for more?! The talent between the two brothers is more than some ten-piece bands. It is, in fact, mind-blowing to watch. Check them out city near you!
The night was spent walking around, wearing a NYE hat and feeling festive. I got to meet some of my music family in person, eat edibles, feed edibles, take awesome pictures with my camera and all this is before the two main performers. The Movement hit the stage through laser beam lighting. It was a touch of magic and a blast of butterflies. Keep in mind this is my favorite band. It’s the old and the new stuff that makes this group so incredible to me. I have to mention, one thing that always makes me feel welcome and non-intrusive while shooting: it is the smile Mr. Gary “Dread” Jackson gives me. His girlfriend and himself, every single show, never fail. Check out his solo work and numerous collaborations. Gary definitely stands for glue, so keep holding us all brother, please! Also, I must mention Mr. Matt “Kofi” Goodwin, who adds a much-needed live horn section to this set, as well as some killer keys across the board every go round.
At a Stick show, it's always a significant moment when Cocoa the Tour Dog strolls out onstage, this time into a sea of grey and white light. She was simply a silhouette against the seriously intense lights and copious amounts of herb smoke filling the airways. Mama didn’t raise no fool, so I came bearing gifts of healthy teeth cleaning churro snacks and a stuffed rope monkey. Queen Cocoa was pleased.
Stick Figure was the main attraction and from the jump, they had us glued to the intensely lit stage and its light show. As laser beams shredded across the long stage, one couldn’t help but be teleported to a time far ahead of where we are now. It was such a futuristic set with an intense feeling of home. Each band member, decked out in black tuxes with white ties, was definitely nice on the eyes. In a way, that small gesture made the experience that much more memorable, as if you could ever forget it. I saw the show through the eyes of a person in 2018. No flying cars like we thought and no robots. The simplicity of knowing I was in a large room full of people I love humbled me. Happy New Year to all from Top Shelf Reggae!
Photography by Jay Cohen