The Annual Legends of Rasta Reggae Festival Tour (LORRF)
(Formerly the Annual Bob Marley Festival Tour)
Sirron Kyles, Founder/Executive Producer
Johnny Nash and Danny Sims of JAD Records introduced me to Bob Marley and Joe Higgs in the late sixties. In 1971, an Island Music Rep, (I apologize for not remembering his name), along with Rice University’s Radio KTRU’s reggae DJ, Kelly; ask me to assist in promoting an up-coming Bob Marley performance in Houston at the Majestic, Movie Theater.
I worked with the street team back then on promotions and distributing comps I made it a priority to give 50 tickets to friends and associates that I felt would enjoy seeing Bob Marley. The marketing staff did a good job in getting the word out. At the time Bob was not very well known in the area and received virtually no radio play. We did manage to sell 1500 tickets in a 2500 seat venue. The show was really great. The Wailers and I Three’s started with their opening songs, and for three hours they did not stop until after Bob Marley’s third encore performance at the end of the concert. I am very grateful for the blessing that allowed me to see him in concert so early in his career.
My goal then, and today has been to promote Bob and others messengers, of love; through producing Festivals that involved reggae and world beat music. It really surprised me, when I found out that only 15 of my friends use the tickets I gave them, and the majority of them were women. When I ask the “no-show friends” why didn’t they come? All had some reason and emphatically said, I always regret not going to that show. My words, “missed opoitinuty.”
In 1981 D J Kelly connected backstage at one of Earth Wind & Fire’s “Touch The World Tour” dates I was producing. Kelly asks me to co-produce the Houston “Bob Marley Day Celebration “at Fitzgerald’s Club. Sarah Fitzgerald and Steven “Iya” James a local reggae promoter were organizing the event. Kelly said, “Because the event was honoring, Bob Marley, Kelly wanted my involvement with organizing the Festival to make sure the event was presented well.” Fitzgerald’s is the venue where the first Bob Marley Celebration in Houston was held on the first Birthday after his death.
After meeting with James several times, and agreement was reached for my services for his upcoming “Bob Marley Day Celebration.” Under the agreement I would provide marketing, merchandising and consulting for a percentage plus all expenses. As the Festival drew closer, I became concerned at how unorganized James’s staff was. I began to have doubts that James staff had the skills or ability to understand the importance of time lines involving advance services and equipment commitments the events required. Once the Festival started, I observed bands, engaging each other bands in shelving matches, to see who would perform next on stage. To me this demonstrated James like of organization.
After the Houston BMD celebration, I researched other Reggae events for a better understanding of what other Festivals were doing. I visited several festivals that were honoring Bob Marley. What I experienced was the same lack of production and origination at each event. All of the promoters meant well, but the majorities of the events were not well organized, and lacked the experience in promoting large events. I use years of experiences to develop a unique concept for producing the “Annual Bob Marley Festival Tour”. I also wanted to make sure the Festival concept features one of legendary stars and up-coming stars of reggae and world beat music each year. All acts must have strong stage shows and hard copy CD. The acts are drawn form a pool list of acts from all over the world, with special consideration given for the Jamaican born performers by me.
The mission of the Festival’s has always been to provide a better understanding of the “Rastafarian Philosophy,” promote peace, spread unity, while providing and a outlet for reggae and world beat acts to perform. The event, also allow vendors the opportunities to provides quality products and services to a strong buying market. What is very important to me is the concept promotes cultural awareness and unity. The concept was developed with nonprofits involvement in mind and staffing, sponsorship and the public relations services they provide are vital to the Festival’s success.
Charities involvement and assistance help offset the cost of producing the Festival and is generally befits them in many ways. For their involvement the nonprofits receive percentages, donations, and public awareness as a direct result of the association with the Festival. Nonprofits involvement with the Festival is a win-win for both parties.
We started the tradition of asking fans coming to the “Festival” for donations of nonperishable foods in lieu of admission in 1991. The fist year fans filled several Food Bank trucks with thousands of pounds of food over that two-day event, and they have donated the same way every event since.
Over the last twenty twenty-five years, the tradition has generated one million, eight hundred thousand dollars in cash and nearly two million pounds of food. These donations requested by the charities school supplies, books and other care needs are also collected in and outside the US where the Festival is held. Festival attendees are positive conscious thinkers with, “Good Karma,” and tend to give more donations.
The success of the Festival, allowed me the opportunity to contact other reggae promoters around the US to check their interested in bringing the “Festival Tour” to their city. Steven James, who I had worked with on his “Bob Marley Day Celebration,” agreed to co-produce the Festival Tour with me, assuring me he was committed. We co-produced the original Festival in 1990 following using the new concept to produce the original, “Bob Marley Festival,” which was attracted fifty thousand plus people.
After working several events together with James over a two-year period, it became apparent that his company did not have the ability to fore fill the obligations he committed too, and we both agreed the joint venture was not working and we elected to go our separate ways. The reasons for the split was very simple, his company could not perform their responsibilities to the Festival and that created additional stress, work and hardship and additional cost to the Festival.
Mr. James continued promoting the “Bob Marley Day Celebration” in several markets. I continued promoting the “Annual Bob Marley Festival Tour” over the next three years successfully in Arizona and Texas. We constantly receive request in reference too the festival coming to a cities near them, are if we would consider bringing the Festival to their city. After some research into what it would take to add more dates to the Tour, I was optimistic that we could make it happen. I contacted promoters around the US to organize additional dates up. Additional dates would require additional experienced support staff. For that reason I agreed to terms with an event producing nonprofit originations that had some experience in promoting festivals. Over the next four years, the nonprofit co-producer fails to perform and meet the terms of their agreement. I address the issue with the director, and it created friction between the two organizations. I began distrusting their ethics. Volunteers, sponsorship support and other responsibility were not performed and became a drain, costing additional money.
What made thing worse, the nonprofit constantly indicated that things were was being handle, which was a lie, as I and my staff had to scramble at the last minute to get done. I found out in the mist of the disagreement the nonprofit director had failed to renew the corporation nonprofit standing with the state of Texas and their IRS 501(C) status. Once I learned what had happen, I became alarmed. That is when he notify me he had convince another nonprofit to allow the Festival to use their IRS 501(C) standing, to cover critical nonprofit requirements the Festival. Not explaining his nonprofit status when it happen was bad enough for me but he still felt his nonprofit deserved full percentages. To make matter worse the other nonprofit he was working in wanted a percentage. I ask them to work out the deals between the two under the agreement in place. I had other priorities at the time to deal with. In less than a week, the Festival was schedule to be in Dallas, which was the weekend after 9-11.
I was pondering if we should reschedule the date, but decided that one of the missions of the Festival was to create joy, happiness and love and what better way bring people together and make them feel better, than the positive settings of the “Bob Marley Festival.” Perfect timing I said to myself. There would be no event better to have after something like 9-11, than the “Bob Marley Festival Tour.” The Festival and did help people that in Dallas forget about the disaster while we were there. Everyone said it was a memorable time and appreciated that each performer took the time to sing prayers for the family and victims of the attacks. It took several years before Americans overcame the fear of attending large events especially outdoor festivals. After the Dallas date I decided not to renew the nonprofit co-producer agreement. The director of the original nonprofit convinced me that he should hire him as a contract worker with public relation. I agreed to terms with the alternative nonprofit for the last three events of year. I sever all ties when the Tour dates ended. At the time I was in the mist of renegotiating a new licensing fees with the Marley family for the rights to continue using Bob Marley’s name.
The nonprofit co-producers were mad and refused to except they were no longer the involved nonprofit benefiting from the Festival. Did not know they then went behind my back to negotiate a licensing fee with the Marley family for them to gain control the Festival. Their plan to pay the family a higher licensing fee than I would. I refuse to pay the amount the family wanted. I decided to change the name of the festival rather than pay the over priced licensing fee the family was now demanding. After several court battles in regards to my rights involving using the name, the court found that I cloud keep using “formerly the Bob Marley Festival Tour” with the Festival’s new name “Legends of Rasta Reggae Festival”. The nonprofits entered into and agreement with the Marley family to produce festivals in markets I had establish over the years as the Bob Marley Festival when working with them. They tried using the concept I created to produce their own festival dates, using vendors, bands and staff information obtained from my contact lists. They both parties, had noncompeting clause in agreement that did not allow them to use any of my sources and contacts and was clearly Infringement of Intellectual Copyrighted property and a breech of contract as a result of their actions.
Their actions and attempts to discredit me cause a lot of problems and stress for the events I was producing during that same time. They spread malicious lies to discredit me in attempts gain favor with performers and vendors from my contacts. In the end they fail to successfully produce any of the dates, they contracted with the Marley family. In fact, I do not believe the Marley family ever receives fees for dates they contracted. Over the next five years disasters like hurricane, Katrina, Ike before and, Harvey, Irma & Maria in 2017 the collapse of the housing market, floods and economy have raised havoc with events all over America especially outdoor festivals, and LORRF was no exception, because self-righteous conservative political backlash attitudes of corporate America towards reggae and world events (Anti Cannabis which for the most part may help the Festival’s, sponsorship campaign. Now that the perception for Cannabis has changed, sponsors are again willing to align themselves with the Festival.
The music of reggae and world music has exploded and with that a variety of performers have emerged, and mixing that mix of the new and old is the entertainment concept of the festival. The new generation of reggae and world music along with select legendary acts makes up the core of groups that will perform in each city. The”Oneness Loves Harmony” Is The 2018 Festival’s Theme Powered By www.lorrf.com will feature women of reggae and world beat music. Female acts will be given special consideration.
Local acts are always included in the line up and there are always plenty of activities for families and children. The diversity of vendors in the Food Court, along with unique gifts sold the Arts & Craft Markets has drawn shoppers and fans from all over America to the Festival. We are inviting all fans who have and those that have not attended the Festivals in past to come out experience and share the “Oneness Loves Harmony” Is The 2018 Festival’s Theme Powered By www.lorrf.com and vibes of LORRF. Many fans and performers, have express on social media and comments, they missed the original Marley Festival. They have been to other reggae festivals around the country but say, “Other reggae Festivals just are not the same, fan said”. With the economy on an upswing, positive views on cannabis investors and sponsors requesting information on dates to help make the event what it was again, and we are looking forward to seeing you at one of the cities selected.
Legends of Rasta Reggae Festival (formally the Annual Bob Marley Festival Tour) invites you to come out and have a great time with great reggae and world acts spreading love, while fans lend a helping hand to those that need help.
The Festival’s charitable mission is to benefit services and organizations that provide “Food for the Hungry and Help for the Homeless”. Powered by www.mastermindsmanagementgroup.org