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Toots and the Maytals, JJ Grey & Mofro to play free Steamboat show

Toots Hibbert

— Hailing from the Deep South, the gritty-voiced blues singer JJ Grey has a lot in common with the Jamaican-raised ska legend Toots Hibbert: Reggae, gospel, soul and R&B brought the two musicians together.

"JJ Grey is a great singer, and his band is a great band," said Hibbert in an interview Wednesday with Explore Steamboat. "He has energy, and I like it. He's a great singer and performer."

They've teamed up to record songs together before, and on Sunday afternoon at the base of Steamboat Ski Area, the two might find themselves collaborating on stage.

"Sometimes we do that," Hibbert hinted in his thick Jamaican accent and playful cadence.

Celebrating the end of the 2011-12 ski season, Toots and the Maytals will perform at 2:30 p.m. Sunday in Gondola Square as part of the final Bud Light Rocks the Boat free concert. JJ Grey & Mofro will go on at 4 p.m.

Hibbert said he's looking forward to his return to Colorado, which also includes shows in Denver and Breckenridge.

"The people, they love me so bad over there," he said. "I always have a good time. They cherish me, and I cherish them."

The Maytals (meaning "good things" in the Jamaican dialect of Creole English) formed in the early 1960s, and the band is credited with coining the term "reggae" with its 1968 hit "Do the Reggay."

Playing bass, guitar, drums and piano came naturally to Hibbert, who fell in love with music and performing at a young age.

"Really, because I'm from the ghetto. That's where my music comes from — the church in the ghetto," he said. "When I sung, everybody stand up and they give me clapping; they clap their hands for me, and that's how I know."

Having traveled all across the world, Hibbert said there's no difference between Kingston, Jamaica, and shows in Colorado or Europe.

"Everybody love me the same way, and I love them so bad," he said.

Throughout the decades, Toots and the Maytals have recorded with the likes of Willie Nelson, Eric Clapton and Keith Richards and have toured with the Rolling Stones and the Dave Matthews Band.

But Hibbert feels like the time has flown by in an instant.

"Forty years ago is just like the other day," he said. "My message to people is love and happiness. Love yourself, keeping loving my music, and they will have something to tell grandchildren upon grandchildren."

To reach Nicole Inglis, call 970-871-4204 or email ninglis@ExploreSteamboat.com