Power of reggae trumps power difficulties at Auburn's Party in the Park

Marley, Tosh sidemen play to 3,000 at Regional Park show
By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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Forget Jamaica. Auburn was World Reggae Central Friday night as some of the biggest names in the musical genre played for a Party in the Park crowd estimated at more than 3,000 people. With Bob Marley & The Wailers guitarist Junior Marvin out front singing songs of freedom and Peter Tosh bass player Fully Fullwood nimbly moving the beat forward, the Tosh Meets Marley tour touched down on Regional Park for a sampling of some of reggae’s greatest hits – played by some of its greatest musicians. While a generator problem caused three false starts and some delays to the show, Tosh Meets Marley was back in the groove about an hour after the sun began to go down and the band took the stage for the first time. During one lengthy stoppage, Marvin and rhythm guitarist Tony Chin teamed with singer George Kouakou to urge the audience into a singalong of Marley’s “Redemption Song.” With power back up, the band rose above the technical difficulties and the dancing, singing crowd celebrated the best of the Marley-Tosh songbook. Tosh Meets Marley lead guitarist Vince Black, formerly of Black Uhuru, explained before going onstage where the power behind reggae lies. “It’s the music of the people,” Black said. “It’s not elitist. It’s a cry for love, truth and justice. Out in the crowd, Cool’s Charlie Sirman could relate to that message. “There are no boundaries to it,” Sirman said. “And it seems to draw people to a more spiritual side of themselves, if they’re open to it.” Party in the Park, a free June staple at Regional Park, is put on by the Auburn Recreation District. Former Auburn-area resident Justin Ancheta, now living in San Francisco, opened the show with a backing band of local musicians. The guitarist-singer had many in the crowd dancing to Latin-tinged rhythms by the time his set was over and drew strong applause as he left the stage. Bill de Haan, a Grass Valley resident and first-time Party in the Park participant, said he was attracted to the event because it was close to home and the band had the promise of putting on a good show. “It’s a global beat and the rhythm of the heart,” de Haan said. Angie Gayton and her son, Carlos, sat near the stage. They too were first-timers at Party in the Park. “The music is mellow and has a lot of energy to it,” said Carlos, wearing a Bob Marley T-shirt. “It makes you want to dance,” Angie said. “This is our first time here and they need better parking but we’ll be back next year.” Recreation District Director Scott Holbrook said that he estimated at least 3,000 people attended Friday’s festival-like show and the district is planning another next year. The Journal’s Gus Thomson can be reached at