If it's mid-March in Houston, you can count on two things: Bars across the city will pour some green dye in their beer and "go Irish," and the Bob Marley Festival will praise Jah locally before launching a national tour. Easily the city's most underrated event, the festival is two days of peaceful vibes, great music and endless invocation of the Tuff Gong -- reggae's past, current and future king.

Approximately 40 acts from as close as downtown Houston to as far away as Jamaica and South Africa will offer everything from ska and South American music to Spanish jazz to roots reggae, often with tinges of funk, hip-hop and pop. The theme for this year's festival is "Natural Mystic," the love force that Marley believed could conquer social problems. Highlight performers include Natty Love Joy, Ghandaia, Errol Blackwood, and Jaruba and the Legendary Street People. Returning favorites include D.R.U.M., Dawtahs of Jah and Dr. King Cobra with a salute to African-rock pioneers Osibisa.

Dozens of vendors will sell crafts and food, and there will be countless performances by jugglers, poets and dance troupes. There's even a Playscape Village for tiny Rastas. So if you've already worn out your second copy of Marley's Legend, you'll find no better place to explore the legacy of the reggae master than at this sprawling Jah-fest. As always, a portion of the proceeds goes to local charities -- but be careful of that slim shady on the edge of the crowd proffering "loose joints for Greenpeace."

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Bob Ruggiero has been writing about music, books, visual arts and entertainment for the Houston Press since 1997, with an emphasis on classic rock. He used to have an incredible and luxurious mullet in college as well. He is the author of the band biography Slippin’ Out of Darkness: The Story of WAR.
Contact: Bob Ruggiero