Reunited Wailers Keep Bob Marley’s Music Alive

The Wailers, the Bob Marley tribute band, is more authentic than ever this year, boasting three former members of the original band, including Aston “Familyman” Barrett. They perform at High Dive on Sunday night.

The Wailers

If you are someone who sways to the gentle rhythm of reggae — and, frankly, who doesn’t? — then you are in for an extra serving of the Caribbean music on Sunday when the Wailers perform downtown at High Dive, 210 SW 2nd Ave.

That’s because three former members of Bob Marley & the Wailers — bassist Aston “Familyman” Barrett, lead guitarist Junior Marvin and lead guitarist Donald Kinsey — will be reunited onstage for the first time in a decade. The reunited Wailers band also includes Aston Barrett, Jr. (drums), Owen “Dreadie Reid” (rhythm guitar), Josh David Barrett (lead vocals), Javaughn Bond (keyboard) and Shema McGregor (vocals).

Sunday’s concert also features Reggae Force, Ozone and Propaganjah. Doors open at 6 p.m. and the show begins at 7:30. Tickets are $20 in advance and $23 at the door.

Marley, the gifted singer/songwriter/musician from Jamaica who sold more than 75 million albums during a storied career, formed the Wailers in 1963 along with Bunny Wailer and Peter Tosh. Among his most popular songs were “No Woman, No Cry,” “Three Little Birds,” “Buffalo Soldier,” “One Love (People Get Ready)” and “I Shot the Sheriff.”

Bob Marley

Following Marley’s death in 1981 from skin cancer, The Wailers Band was formed by the remaining members of Bob Marley & the Wailers. Heading up that tribute band was Aston Barrett and Junior Marvin. However, they parted ways in 2008 when Marvin helped form a band known as The Original Wailers.

Now they are together again under The Wailers banner. Except for mainstay Aston Barrett, the band is dramatically different than The Wailers band that last played High Dive a year ago.

Barrett, the band’s anchor, co-produced and provided bass lines for the majority of Marley’s records. He was recognized by Bass Player Magazine with a Lifetime Achievement Award as one of the world’s great bassists.

Here are some more interesting facts about The Wailers:

  • Bassist Aston “Familyman” Barrett and his late brother, drummer Carlton “Carly” Barrett, were recognized as the best rhythm duo in Jamaica before joining Bob Marley.
  • Bob Marley requested to meet the famous Barrett brothers at Lee “Scratch” Perry’s Kingston, Jamaica, studio in the late ’60s.
  • Familyman’s rolling bass and Carly’s explosive drumming are credited with creating “rub a dub.”
  • By 1973, Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer left the band, as did keyboardist Earl “Wya” Lindo
  • Bob, Familyman and Carly were left in London, where they recorded Natty Dread, the first Bob Marley & the Wailers album, released in 1975.
  • Natty Dread LP contained “No Woman, No Cry,” their first UK hit, and first hit outside of Jamaica.
  • Bob Marley & the Wailers recorded 11 albums together — seven studio and three live albums.
  • Aston Barrett, Jr., studied his famous uncle’s videos and drumming style and is “the closest to his uncle,” says his father, “Familyman” Barrett.
  • Shema McGregor is part of a royal reggae family. Her mother is gospel singer and original member of the I-Three, Judy Mowatt. Her father is Reggae pioneer, singer, songwriter and producer at the Big Ship recording studio, Freddie McGregor.
  • Familyman Barrett and his brother Carlton were the top rhythm section in Jamaica, playing with The Hippy Boys and the Upsetters before meeting Marley.
  • “Carly” Barrett was senselessly shot down in front of his Jamaica home in 1987.
  • Familyman was a teacher and mentor to many young musicians in Kingston, most notably Robbie Shakespeare, half of the award-winning Sly & Robbie rhythm team.
  • In addition to being an innovative bass player, Familyman played guitar and keyboards and was a songwriter, producer and arranger.
  • U.S.-born Donald Kinsey is an acclaimed blues and rock guitarist who also played with Peter Tosh.

    For further info, visit the The Wailers website.

    For how to purchase tickets, visit the High Dive website.