Stephen Marley brings Babylon by Bus Tour to Saratoga

On Thursday June 9th, Stephen Marley — son of the legendary Bob Marley — brought his Babylon by Bus Tour to Saratoga’s Mountain Winery. The tour had just kicked off at Cali Roots Festival and continues on, featuring different reggae acts depending on location. Tonight’s show featured Skip Marley, grandson of Bob Marley, as well as personal favorite, HIRIE! If you have never been to Mountain Winery, it is truly a beautiful venue, located way up in the Santa Cruz mountains and offering amazing views of the Bay Area, which I enjoyed while awaiting at the box office to get checked in. 

At 7pm sharp, Skip Marley began his set, which was very upbeat and had guests waving along. He sang his new song “Vibes” and even a cool remixed cover of his late grandfather’s hit, “Could You Be Loved”. Next up was HIRIE, like I said, a personal favorite of mine ever since my first show way back in 2016.

If you have never seen a HIRIE show, I don’t know what you’re waiting for.

The band as a whole have so much chemistry and camaraderie, where they transcend being just a band onstage; what you actually see is a family onstage doing what they love. Tonight’s show was no different and the band was on fire. HIRIE herself was warm and inviting. To introduce the song, “You Won’t Be Alone”, she told the audience about her diagnosis with bipolar disorder at a young age and all the prescriptions she would have to take, such as anti-depressants. This was incredibly personal and made the audience feel even more connected to the performance. HIRIE’s songs are incredibly uplifting and her performance mirrors this alongside her touring band members, dancing in unison. Whether it’s a horn solo or a guitar solo, you can always catch HIRIE dancing up a storm in her high heels. One such solo was actually by guitarist Blaine Dillinger, as he played not guitar, but trumpet! During the pandemic, Blaine learned the instrument and now will join the horn section for a quick minute, which was really cool to see!

After HIRIE’s set, it was time for Stephen Marley and I made my way up the amphitheater to take my place at front of house to shoot. The lights dimmed and the band started. Immediately, as I lifted my camera to shoot, my shoulder was tapped like I was in the way, so I scooted over thinking nothing of it. Stephen Marley came out and the crowd went wild! I quickly snapped a couple photos during that first song of “Hey Baby” before my shoulder was tapped again. If I was in the way in the front of house (where the stage manager told me was where to shoot from), I didn’t know where I could so I returned to my seat to enjoy the show with my mom who is also a reggae fan. I tucked my cameras away in my bag while “Hey Baby” was still going strong.

I remember it being odd earlier during HIRIE’s set while she was performing one of the many ganja-themed songs that there was no one partaking. It must have been the overkill of security guards at every podium; it was also still bright outside and wasn’t crowded yet. Now it was dark and there was a weed smell in the air. Still, no weed was allowed, as people got routinely kicked out. Taking a hint, my mom and I enjoyed the sounds of Stephen Marley on our tailgate in the parking lot, enjoying a joint outside the venue to Stephen’s cover of his father’s song “Three Little Birds”.

Photography by Katey Schoenberger

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