The First Night of The Wailers US October 2016 Tour is a Hit!
Words Nick Krkles of “The Dreadman Show” Fearless Radio, Chicago
Photos Julie Collins|Rose Mountain Photo
Bluebirds are a symbol of joy, and on Sat., Oct. 21, 2016, in Bloomington, IN, the Bluebird nightclub offered the space where joy abounds.
It was the first performance of an eight-date US reassembled-Wailers tour. The lineup on this night consisted of original Bob Marley & The Wailers members Aston “Familyman” Barrett (bass) and Junior Marvin (vocals, lead guitar), with Familyman’s son, Aston Barrett Jr. (drums) carrying the torch in honor of his late uncle Carlton “Carly” Barrett. NYC-based Josh David Barrett (vocals, rhythm guitar), Owen “Dreadie” Reid (rhythm guitar), Javaughn Bond (keyboards, backing vocals), and the lovely and talented Shema McGregor (backing vocals). Shema is also the daughter of Reggae greats Freddie McGregor and Judy Mowatt, a solo artist in her own right as well as one-third of the I-Threes with Bob Marley & The Wailers. On the horizon, more Wailers are to join the fold as their schedules permit, including Donald Kinsey (lead guitar), Earl “Wya” Lindo (organ, keyboards), Tyrone Downie (keyboards), and Alvin “Seeco” Patterson (percussion). The set list covers The Wailers catalog with more than 15 songs, consisting of classics, rarities, and deep tracks not only from the days with Bob, but from The Wailers Band era (1981-present), and right up to brand new material.
Though some may not have realized it at the time, the lucky ones in attendance on this night were witnessing history in the making. In the little nest of a club, the show at the Bluebird began with the intro tune Irie, which segued into Natural Mystic, harkening back to the 1980 Uprising tour. The one-drop drumming style of Aston Barrett Jr., was such a déjà vu delight to experience, he channeled the playing and resemblance of his uncle flawlessly, even wearing a similar trademark cap. The bloodline is undeniable.
An unexpected surprise featured a rare performance of the Bob Marley single produced by Lee “Scratch” Perry in 1977, I Know A Place. Josh and Junior would share lead vocals on every other song or so, providing a balance and vibe that kept the audience engaged, mixing in crowd interaction with call and response, and of course Junior Marvin’s riveting guitar solos. A dread rendition of Midnight Ravers, from The Wailers Island debut Lp Catch A Fire, was a real treat for the longtime fans. The Wailers’ Majestic Warriors tune My Friend got everyone scatting and swaying in unison, which continued to make the Reggae party build to a crescendo, where Jamming would take the crowd into second gear.
Positive energy was felt throughout the night, everyone was chanting for more as The Wailers were summoned back for an encore, the audience was packed shoulder to shoulder. As Josh reminded us, that though we may encounter hardships and tragedies, be it national or personal, we have to use these moments as a symbol to rally around unity – as is evident with The Wailers reuniting. Unity is strength.
That being said, there was a strong sense of unity permeated from this legendary band. The Wailers have gone through many trials and tribulations since Bob Marley has transitioned from this earthly plane, but as mentioned in the 1977 hit Exodus, which also rounded out the evening’s set, “We know where we’re going, we know where we’re from.” So let’s get together and feel all right.