The Wailers in reggae are much more than an old school band. They are a true piece of history. Gaining commercial success outside of Jamaica with Bob Marley leading them, they allowed people to hear the voices of Jamaica all over the world. Long before Sean Paul made the US dance to his tunes and before Damien Marley began doing songs with Nas, The Wailers opened up reggae to the world. They made people listen to the simple and almost plain, yet socially and politically troublesome and very unfair lives of this island’s people.
Above and beyond the messages in reggae there is the music itself. From the late 60’s this genre developed above and beyond. Representing the Rastafari movement and carrying the true messages of life reggae has traveled the long and elaborate roads. Unlike Hip Hop music thou, which started about the same time it didn’t see the same commercial recognition. With some exceptions, from Junior Reid to the above-mentioned Sean Paul, reggae has remained the same as it was 40 years ago. It remained the music of the people who listened to it decades ago. A lot of it has to do with political and economic climate in Jamaica. A lot is explained by reggae artists unwilling to change their style and approach to make money in today’s environment. Ninja Man, for instance, just performed in the US for the first time in 15 years.
The Wailers also mostly remained the same but changed just a few things. What is known as The Wailers is now The Wailers Band. The last 7 years of his life Bob Marley played with them. After his death, Aston Barrett (Family Man) took over. Touring non-stop all over the world they consistently bring their fans that old feeling of Bob Marley & The Wailers. Their roster of music is half off of Bob Marley’s classics and half off of material they’ve created in the past 25 years. Putting out 4 albums in that span of time (after Bob Marley) they have been bringing the same rock/reggae feel they carried in the 70’s. Family Man is one of the best-known bassists in the world and his overall demeanor combined with years of experience make him a true timeless classic.
The band comes to New York a few times a year and performing this time at Highline Ballroom they packed the place with their regular roster of fans. Even Tre from Green Day came out to see the show. The living legend of a band kept on their tour and went on to do a show in Philli next day, but not before Fam spoke to WORDSnTUNES and shared some of his thoughts on reggae, on The Wailers and the new music coming up from them.