The Music Inn Lenox, MA 1978

This blog entry finds Bob Marley and the Wailers wrapping up the northeastern leg of the North American Kaya tour in 1978. They are driving into Lenox, MA from New York City where they played a show at Madison Square Garden the previous night. They will be playing to a sold-out crowd at New Bingley Hall in Staffordshire, UK a mere 3 days later.

As the coach pulls into Lenox, they pass the famed Tanglewood, an estate and music venue that is home to the Tanglewood Music Festival, Tanglewood Jazz Festival, and the Boston Symphony Orchestra. No, the Wailers will not be playing the famed Tanglewood today. They are booked at David Rothstein’s Music Inn, an estate turned hippie-hangout that once housed the famed Lenox School of Jazz. A place dedicated to the “presentation and perpetuation of the American, particularly African-American, musical tradition.”

Philip and Stephanie Barber purchased the estate in 1950 and instantly transformed it into The Music Inn, a place where musicians and artists would exchange musical theory, discuss the origins of music, and hold intimate house concerts at The Music Barn. By the early 1970’s, the Music Inn was a rocking outdoor concert venue sporting a new stage setup at the bottom of a meadow, making the concert experience “considerably more comfortable and relaxed.”

Bob Marley and the Wailers were scheduled to play The Music Inn twice on previous tours. A performance had originally been scheduled for the 1976 Rastaman Vibration tour, but it never happened. During the 1977 Exodus tour, a performance was scheduled for August, however, a nagging toe injury prevented Bob from playing live, and the remaining tour dates were cancelled. It seemed that the Wailers would never grace the grounds at The Music Inn. That is until June 18, 1978, a performance that is now part of Wailers folklore.

Berkshire Eagle, August 17, 1977

As the concert goers brave the rain of the day and populate the meadow lawn in front of the new stage, little do they know that they will be treated to one of the greatest performances that Bob Marley and the Wailers will ever give. While the mandated capacity of the venue is 5,000, nearly 10,000 people arrive for the show.

Bob decides to treat the eager audience by drastically changing the set list to include songs that are rarely played live. This kind gesture is not without risks however. How can a band be expected to play songs that they rarely, if ever, perform outside the studio? There is no time to rehearse these songs. It doesn’t matter now. Bob will lead, and they will follow.

The band takes the stage to a roaring crowd and Carlton Barrett prepares to lead them into the opener “Positive Vibration“.  Bob changes his set list once again as he now notices that the rain is letting up and the sun is coming out.  Bob makes the last minute decision to open the show with “Sun is Shining”, a stunning musical composition from the Kaya album featuring dub effects and a searing guitar solo from Junior Marvin. The performance of “Sun is Shining” at The Music Inn is one of only two live performances of the song-the other being at the Santa Barbara County Bowl on July 23, 1978. The lion roars through a set of rarely played songs including “So Much Things To Say”, “Who The Cap Fit”, “One Love/People Get Ready”, and the one and only live performance of “Time Will Tell”. The set list also includes “Natural Mystic”, “Rat Race”, and “Roots, Rock, Reggae”, Wailers’ standards that are rarely played during the 1978 Kaya Tour.

Bob Marley Lenox 1978

I had the good fortune of speaking with photographer Dave Suarez about the show. Here is what he had to say:

“The Music Inn was a beautiful place to see a concert.  It had a medium sized amphitheater at the bottom of a comfortably sloped grassy hill.  Although there were probably 8,000 people there, everyone picked a spot and was comfortable.  I remember having no problem walking up to the front of the stage and taking pictures.  It was a beautiful June day and Marley as usual put on an incredible show bordering on a religious experience.”

All in all, the show lasts for a stunning 2 hours and 10 minutes – one of the longest shows ever played by Bob Marley and the Wailers. Give thanks, the show audio was recorded and is presented here for listening and download. The photos , taken by photographer Dave Suarez, are some of the best I’ve seen of any live performance. They really capture the atmosphere surrounding the show, and what it must have been like for the lucky few who witnessed it.

Bob Marley Lenox 1978

For more information about this legendary show, photos, and stories from those who were in attendance please check out these links:

Click here to listen to the show.  Click here to download a lossless audio file of show.

Set List

1. “Sun Is Shining
2. “Positive Vibration”
3. “Them Belly Full (But We Hungry)”
4. “Concrete Jungle”
5. “Running Away” “Crazy Baldhead”
6. “Is This Love?”
7. “War” “No More Trouble”
8. “The Heathen
9. “Time Will Tell
10. “One Love / People Get Ready”
11. “Natural Mystic”
12. “So Much Things To Say”
13. “Who The Cap Fit”
14. “Rat Race”
15. “Roots, Rock, Reggae”
16. “I Shot The Sheriff”
17. “No Woman, No Cry”
18. “Lively Up Yourself”
19. “Jammin'”
20. “Easy Skanking”
21. “Punky Reggae Party” “Get Up, Stand Up”
22. “Exodus”

Musicians and Players of Instruments:

Bob Marley – vocals, rhythm guitar
Aston Barrett – bass
Carlton Barrett – drums
Al Anderson – lead guitar
Junior Marvin – lead guitar
Earl Lindo – organ, clavinet
Tyrone Downie – keyboards
Alvin Patterson – percussion
Neville Garrick – percussion, art direction
The I-Threes – backing vocals

Give thanks to Roger Steffens for reviewing the entry for historical accuracy and for graciously providing his own insightsAlso, I would like to thank photographer Dave Suarez for providing his own personal experience and for allowing me to use his photographs.

11 thoughts on “The Music Inn Lenox, MA 1978

  1. Just saw the new Marley movie last night and began thinking of the wonderful memories of being at this concert in Lenox in 1978. We drove out from Boston and home on fumes due to a locked gas cap with no key. Starting looking around and came upon this website. I can’t believe the concert is available for download….thank you so much. Bob was a magical presence on this earth.

  2. I was at that concert. I was 18 years old and it was the first concert I had ever attended – and the most memorable. Thanks for preserving the memory!

  3. I was 6 years old when my (super cool) parents took me to see this show. I remember distinctly standing on a beer cooler to watch these crazy men with crazy hair play the music that was in continuous rotation on the living room record player. I was hooked, and have been hooked ever since.

    We caught a ride home with my parents’ friends who happened to have a fancy new Saab with an in-dash tape player. It was my first exposure to such a technical marvel, and during the drive home, naturally Kaya was playing on the car stereo. I couldn’t fathom how the same music I *just heard* at the show was also on the radio! My Dad calmly explained that the band was in the trunk. For me, that was more plausible than the possibility that there was a new invention that makes the radio play whatever you wanted, whenever you wanted.

    Thanks Bob, for one of my first, and one of my fondest memories.

  4. I was in front of sound board talking to taper of show. We had a delay due to the tour bus getting stopped by NYSP on way up from MSG show nite before. Was kool, sun came out as tour bus was backing into side of stage. Excellent show. A Lambs breath kindah vibe. Just saw Ziggy in Rutland Vt, June 17th 2014 Bob & Rita June 18th 1978, Natural Mystic In The Air, Got Goose Bumps when I heard Ziggy begin to play Lively Up Yourself. Last time live was his Dad some 36 years earlier. What A Trip…

  5. It was the Summer before my senior year in college. I had no chance at Woodstock , we grudgingly missed Watkins Glen but Bob Marley at The Music Inn we made and it was the best concert I have ever seen. To put it in perspective, Led Zeppelin was my first concert – Boston, Mass 1973, Boston Garden. Things had a way of working out back in the day.

  6. I was there. They announced at beginning that Bob would do an extra long show cause the opening act (The Impressions?) was stuck in NY for some reason. Turned into a beautiful day.

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