The Hippo


Jul 21, 2019








Courtesy photo.

Winter Reggae Splash featuring Mighty Mystic

When: Friday, Feb. 5, 9 p.m.
Where: Thirsty Moose Tap House, 21 Congress St., Portsmouth 
Tickets: $5/door, more at

Indoor sunshine
Mighty Mystic celebrates Bob Marley’s birthday

By Michael Witthaus

Decades past his death, Bob Marley remains a powerful force as new generations discover his music. A less noted gift Marley bestowed upon the world is his birthday, Feb. 6. This cosmic timing provides the impetus for many an indoor party as outside temperatures plunge. Winter Reggae Splash is such an event. The four-day mini-tour celebrating Marley’s 70th and starring Boston-based performer Mighty Mystic stops in Portsmouth on Thursday, Feb. 5. 

Though his career lasted barely a dozen years, no performer influenced music like Marley did. 
“Everybody could understand … the message,” Mighty Mystic said in a recent phone interview. “He spoke about it with such passion that you and me and the guy thousands of miles away could relate to it — stuff that was going on then and still is.” 
Born in St. Elizabeth, Jamaica — an hour from Marley’s home in Trenchtown — Mighty Mystic grew up listening to the reggae icon. 
“I have been passionate about him since I was a kid … trying to do what he and guys like Peter Tosh were trying to do,” he said. “It’s always been roots reggae, music with a message.”
Mighty Mystic moved to Boston at age 9. A few years later, he began following older brother Stephen, an up and coming hip-hop artist, to his shows. Soon, he was performing reggae on the same stages.
“I just found my style, and my brother had a lot to do with what I do,” he said. “Now the tables are turned, because he is playing guitar in my band.”
Mighty Mystic has released three albums; the latest, Concrete World, came out last year. The title track addresses the alienating effects of technology. “How you fe text you son and him in a de next room people,” he raps near the end of the song.  
“We get lost in our way and lost in cell phones and TVs,” he explained. “We just need to bring ourselves down a little bit, because everything is so immediate.” 
The record takes a playful turn on “Happy” — the singer cavorts on the beach with bikini-clad women in a video for the song — and “Cali Green.” The latter is an ode to herbal escape that name-checks Slightly Stoopid, Snoop Dogg and Tupac Shakur. Mighty Mystic said when he wrote the song, “I was vibing out, rolling up and relaxing — all of a sudden the melody came to me naturally.”
Born Kevin Holness, he took his performing name from his father, and the Boston neighborhood he grew up in. 
“When he was a young man they called him The Mystic because he was like a mystical kind of a guy [and] we ended up in an area called The Mystic,” he said. “I thought, I’m passionate about something that has kind of a roots, mystical vibe to it, it’s the family name and the area that I live in … I used the Mighty to make it pop a little bit more.”
His band includes brother Stephen Thunder, guitarist John Felice, the bass/drums rhythm section of Marc Smith and Salvador Pineda, and keyboard player Koga Rite. The group’s tight sound is a big reason why Concrete World is up for a few Best of 2014 awards. 
“All these guys bring that energy. They are really good at finding the catchy lines in the music,” the singer said. “On top of doing the real roots and spiritual music, we try to focus on the live aspect of the music and really deliver that at a high level.” 
It’s a freeing, healing sound with universal appeal. 
“Reggae means food for the soul,” Mighty Mystic said. “No matter what you are going through, you can put on some sort of reggae music to get you through your daily life.”  
As seen in the January 29, 2015 issue of the Hippo.

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