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Passion project reunites Wailers

Sarah Mausolf
Vail CO, Colorado
Published: Shane Macomber/smacomber@vaildaily.com
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Reggae band the Wailers has seen its share of turnover since its nucleus formed in 1969.

Singer Bob Marley died in 1981. Other members splintered off to pursue separate gigs, resulting in a sort of Wailers diasphora.

But the latest Wailers album will bring together 10 living members of the group ” and even borrow tracks from a deceased member.



That’s right: the Wailers unearthed tapes with unreleased drum tracks by late Wailer Carlton Barrett. They dug the tapes out of storage in Jamaica and incorporated them into new songs.

With the Wailers poised to sweep into Beaver Creek tonight, it’s worth taking a closer look at their latest project.

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The Longevity Project is an annual campaign to help educate readers about what it takes to live a long, fulfilling life in our valley. This year Kevin shares his story of hope and celebration of life with his presentation Cracked, Not Broken as we explore the critical and relevant topic of mental health.



Aside from reuniting past members, the album marks the Wailers’ first all-original recording since Marley died. Although the CD will stick to the band’s reggae roots, it will absorb influences from a stable of musicians who have been inspired by the Wailers.

Rumors hint at a collaboration with Dave Matthews, Fergie or Santana, but Wailers singer Elan Atias said he can’t confirm those rumors. For the time being, he’s keeping the guest list on the downlow.

But he can reveal the album is a fusion between Atias’ and Wailers bassist Aston “Family Man” Barrett’s labels. They hope to release the CD in August.



For the time being, the Wailers are spreading the love through touring. Resurrecting classics like “Buffalo Soldier,” “No Woman No Cry,” and “I Shot the Sheriff,” and trotting out original numbers, the band has been performing in venues as farflung as Australia.

Presently, members are winding through the Western United States for a 10-day tour.

The band attributes some of its new repitoire to fresh blood. Having rejoined the band in June, Atias contributes songs he recorded on his recent solo album, “Together as One.”

A perhaps unlikely addition to the band, Atias has no formal vocal training and audience members are occasionally shocked to discover he’s white. The Los Angeles native brings raw talent to the mix.

His music career dates back to a chance meeting with a record executive at a Sex Pistols concert. Two of Atias’ friends told the record executive that he was a singer. The record bigwig asked to hear some of his music.

Only problem: Atias didn’t have music. Although the 21-year-old often sang in the shower or walking down the street, he had no professional experience.

Scrambling, he called up a few friends who owned recording equipment and started laying down a demo. Around this time, he was hanging out at an L.A. club when he encountered Wailers guitarist Al Anderson. The two hit it off and soon Anderson was adding guitar tracks to the demo.

Atias, who goes by his first name only, sang with the Wailers for two and a half years beginning in late 1996, then strayed to record his solo album.

During this departure, Atias also contributed to the soundtracks for TV show “Sex in the City” and the movie “50 First Dates.” Atias said he rejoined the Wailers after coming up with the idea for the reunion album.

“When Santana released the ‘Supernatural’ album in I think it was 2000 or something, I always said to myself, ‘Man, that would be an amazing concept for the Wailers to do,'” Atias said. “Have all the original Wailers perform, make music, tracks, and have all these great contemporary artists from all different genres who have been inspired by Wailers over the years come in and write new songs and new material and add their own vibe and influences to the Wailers tracks.”

High Life Writer Sarah Mausolf can be reached at 748-2938 or smausolf@vaildaily.com.


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