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Hope you like jamming too

Andrew Harley
Special to the DailyReggae music's royal ambassadors of good vibes, The Wailers, lively up 8150 tonight at 10.
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An extravagant amount of idolatry is often directed toward many of the world’s popular music stars. While Bob Marley has probably been the quintessential target of idolatry, he has merited the respect by instilling his soul, his pride and his compassion into every song he wrote.

The Wailers continue the tradition created by Marley, and those he worked with, without his physical presence, bearing the proverbs and vibrations of Rastafarianism to the rest of the world. By making these beliefs and wisdoms accessible to the world, along with their innovations in rhythm and bass, Bob Marley and The Wailers have carved a throne for themselves among the all-time, worldwide deities of music.

“We bring sweet songs of freedom, redemption songs,” said Aston Barrett, songwriter, music arranger and bass guitar player for The Wailers. “All songs of Bob Marley and The Wailers.”

The stage is always packed when The Wailers play, with I-3s, brass, percussion and lead singer, Nesta. But Barrett, better known by his nickname, “Familyman,” is the roots of The Wailers – having first collaborated with Marley in 1969 as part of his group The Upsetters – joined by long-time members Earl “Wya” Lindo, the organ player who came to The Wailers in 1972, and Al Anderson, who took The Wailers’ lead guitarist spot in 1974.

“I label myself in my early years. It means the one in charge of things, the one keeping everything together,” said Barrett.

Familyman has kept the spirit of The Wailers moving despite great tragedy – the death of Marley and the murders of Barrett’s brother, The Wailers’ drummer Carlton, and of former Wailer Peter Tosh.

“We all started out together – Bunny (Livingston), Peter, Bob and the Barrett brothers as singers and players of instruments,” said Barrett. “When Peter and Bunny quit, Bob asked me, “How gon mek it work?’ And I say, “The three of us can make it work like the power of the Trinity.'”

And, Familyman and Carlton Barrett took the reins alongside Marley, blossoming in 1974 with the creation of the timeless album “Natty Dread” – Familyman himself having written “Them Belly Full (But We Hungry)” and “Talkin’ Blues.”

Barrett has remained an integral part of The Wailers since the creation of “Natty Dread,” going on to help Marley lead the band and arrange and produce the music on the rest of The Wailers’ albums, including “Rastaman Vibration,” “Kaya,” “Babylon by Bus,” “Confrontation” and “Exodus.”

However, Barrett has been distracted with legal matters lately, regarding songwriter and artist royalties. Familyman claims Island Records and members of the Marley family – specifically, Rita, Stella and Stephen Marley – have failed to pay him and his brother since Bob Marley’s death.

“The Marleys and Island Records have all got blind with greed over the years. They’ve been living above the law for decades,” said Barrett. “I’m trying to keep the good music and the beats of the people for the people. We try to carry out every message of roots culture and reggae for the past, present and future.”

And, before Bob Marley’s death, Familyman and Marley had begun to carry out plans to turn Tuff Gong Records into a Motown of sorts, which would have given many Jamaican artists great opportunities.

“But, Bob passed away, and things are not the way they used to be,” said Barrett. “They don’t think like Bob, but they have the name Marley. We will fight for what’s ours. We’ve got to get it back and into the studio again.”

Through the haze of legal and personal battles, Familyman and The Wailers continue to spread the original vibes and music of Bob Marley and The Wailers.

“We keep reggae and Bob Marley’s spirit alive because that’s what we play, because nobody does it like we do,” said Barrett. “We come to Vail, Colorado, to keep people warm in the cold times. Our music lives out, plays on and we won’t stop giving the almighty God thanks and praises for our talents.”

For more information on The Wailers, or to learn more about Aston Barrett’s legal struggles, visit http://www.wailers.com.

Andrew Harley can be reached at (970) 949-0555, ext. 610, or at aharley@vaildaily.com.


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