Mostly Marley, the Vancouver-based classic reggae band that has been bringing smooth reggae vibes to audiences around B.C., will be performing at this year’s Caribbean Days Festival. The festival takes place on the last weekend of July at Waterfront Park in North Vancouver and is a large cultural event that fuses parading, dancing, carnival and cuisine in a celebration of Caribbean culture.
Formed in 2003 by vocalist Mike Henry, Mostly Marley also features the talents of guitarist Russ Klyne, drummer Tim Proznick and bass player Matt Reid.
“It started off as just a trio [with] a piano player, drummer, and [me] on vocals,” says Henry. “But once the band really took off, we brought in a bass player, and that helped us move from a sort of lounge reggae to what reggae should really sound like.”
The shift from left-hand bass on keyboard to string bass also helped produce more of a reggae sound, he says.
Cruise ship beginnings
As for how he got his start in reggae music, Henry says that he was never really a fan of the genre and was always more into R&B soul and pop. It was when he worked as an entertainer on a cruise ship to Scandinavia in the late 90s that he started to get into reggae music.
“On my breaks or off days, I would go down to this disco where they would play lots of reggae music – Ziggy Marley –and I was like wow,” Henry explains. “It was from that point that I decided that I was going to start a reggae band when I got back to Vancouver.”
“I was just more familiar with [Bob Marley’s] work,” Henry says regarding the choice of band name. “Whenever I thought of reggae, I thought of Bob Marley. He’s the most well-known reggae artist in the world – he introduced reggae to the world.”
Henry also says that he did not have a name for the band at the time and several people would ask him what kind of music they played as a band.
“I would say, we play this and that kind of classic reggae, but mostly Marley. So that just stuck – Mostly Marley,” Henry explains.
Connecting with the Caribbean community
The band has frequented several locales around B.C.. Most notable among them is the Rusty Gull in North Vancouver where they originally got their start and continue to perform biweekly on Sundays.
This year will be the band’s second time performing at the Caribbean Days Festival, following their successful spot at last year’s festival. However, securing a spot hasn’t been so easy, according to Henry.
“I was always trying to submit our band for a spot in the festival but every time I called in to speak to someone, I would be put on hold and subjected to the prompts,” says Henry. “So I never actually got to speak to a human being. I just stopped calling.”
Then he received a phone call inviting the band to perform at last year’s festival. Someone who had seen the band perform at the Maple Ridge Caribbean festival had called in a reference, Henry explains.
“Of course we said yes. As a reggae band, we want to be connected to the Caribbean community,” he says.
Mostly Marley also has several upcoming shows for this month. The band is putting together a show for July 18 called “Reggae Summer Heat Waves” at the Fairview pub on West Broadway, featuring various artists.
On July 23, they will be opening for Easy Star All-Stars, a Jamaican reggae band, at Venue nightclub around 9:30 p.m.
On July 25, they will be opening again for a featured Jamaican artist at Waterfront Park at 9 p.m.
For more information, visit www.caribbeandays.ca.