As the sun beat down, Luana Halili, 33, of North Bellmore, rocked steadily to the calypso beat of the reggae tune drifting through the hilly, open lawns of the Vanderbilt Museum.
“It’s a beautiful day, we love each other, we love summer, that’s why we’re here,” Halili said. “We decorate the world; we’re painting, in a way, by dancing.”
On Sunday, the Vanderbilt Museum in Centerport hosted the first Marley Fest, a music and art festival, produced by Rich Rivkin, that pays tribute to Bob Marley and reggae music.
The festival is part of the Summer Arts Festival Series first launched in 2011, but this is the first time a reggae music festival was put on the schedule. For Rivkin, bringing reggae music into the mix was a way to promote diversity within the Long Island music scene. The event was broadcast live on MadhouseTV.com.
“When I can share a type of music experience, something that I’m looking for, I find that other people are looking for that type of experience, too,” Rivkin said. “I’d like to allow the subset of our music culture to be attracted to these events.”
In front of a vibrant, rainbow tie-dye backdrop, four local Long Island reggae bands played individual sets throughout the day.
Soul Junkie, the first band to play, formed in 2012 and made their festival debut at Marley Fest. Although the band has performed in smaller venues, this was the first time it got to play in a festival setting alongside other artists.
“I’m psyched to do it,” Soul Junkie lead singer Michael Martin, 31, from Bay Shore, said. “We’re here to pay homage to Marley.”
For Lance Reinheimer, executive director of the Vanderbilt Museum, Marley Fest is a chance for people of all ages and varying backgrounds to visit the site, diversifying its audience and bringing in a new interest from a younger, more eclectic demographic.
“Events like this attract audiences and visitors who wouldn’t ordinarily be here,” Reinheimer said. “It appeals to to different people so that they can come and rediscover the museum.”