Published on May 14th, 2017


After Bob Marley died of cancer at a Miami hospital in May of 1981, it’s no stretch to say that his effect on the world only grew, surpassing even the considerable influence he wielded in life as a Jamaica-born reggae pioneer and almost missionary public figure. Wailers.

Marley’s face in pictures is iconic. His ideas about social and racial justice, enunciated in songs, are now mainstream. His pro-marijuana stance predicted today’s legalizing climate.

None of this would hold true without the music. A mark of its endurance is that audiences, new and faithful alike, come out to hear Marley’s confederates and musical descendants, such as the members of The Wailers, perform those foundational songs.

An offshoot of Bob Marley and the Wailers, this changing ensemble of players directly and indirectly connected to the original has existed in some form since shortly after his passing.

The Wailers

The lineup has revolved primarily around bass player Aston “Family Man” Barrett, a key figure in the Marley discography, first as a session player and then as a formal band member and producer.

Barrett’s first experience of the life-changing power of Marley’s music goes back even further. At the time he had yet to pick up a bass guitar — and then one day he heard Simmer Down, the Wailers’ 1963 debut single, on a jukebox.

“I went into like a trance … like I was involved with the music,” Barrett told journalist Jas Obrecht in a 2011 interview. “Well, I’m not even involved in music yet. In those days I am an electrical welder, I’m a bike mechanic, I’m a blacksmith. So I in-graft all of those other talent and construct the music. That’s what I did. That what make it so special. Yeah, man!”

Other members of these latter-day Wailers have bands and projects of their own, but together they join forces, with help from Marley-era sound engineer Dennis Thompson, to deliver faithful performances of classic Marley tracks such as Jamming and Could You Be Loved.

Intimate Wailers Show Photo

The Wailers perform on May 17 at Respectable Street. Showtime is 8pm. Tickets at
~ Sean Piccoli

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