We speak to Aston ‘Family Man’ Barrett and Dwayne Anglin of iconic reggae band The Wailers ahead of their performance in Bahrain this month.
The Wailers was the original band fronted by reggae legend Bob Marley, with Bunny Livingston and Peter Tosh, then becoming Bob Marley & The Wailers two years later, with Aston Barrett and his brother Carlton Barrett, among others. Although Bob Marley passed away in 1981, his music and the band’s hits have endured, with The Wailers Band still touring and playing the group’s best hits to this day. Selling over 250 million albums worldwide under numerous guises, the commercial success of the band highlights its global appeal.
So what are the biggest hits of The Wailers? ‘No Woman No Cry’, ‘Jamming’, ‘Buffalo Soldier’ and ‘One Love’ comprise a small snippet of the hits, all to be performed in Bahrain for one night only as Coral Bay gears up for a right royal, Rastafarian, reggae jam.
We interview both recent band member Dwayne Anglin and long-term Wailer Aston Barrett, whose career has spanned six decades, and find out what it’s like to perform with Bob himself.
Why do you like coming to the Middle East to perform?
Dwayne Anglin: The Middle East appreciates The Wailers’ music. We are always excited to perform here. If anything, I would say we don’t perform in the region enough.
Does reggae music get the recognition it deserves?
Aston Barrett: Well reggae music is very spiritual, so yes. As Bob [Marley] said, this music will reach its rightful people.
DA: Music always finds its people. Reggae music doesn’t need recognition, it needs followers. Reggae is not just music, it is the ‘Movement of Jah people.’
What are the key components to reggae music?
AB: Peace, love and unity.
DA: Message and mood.
Why is reggae music so important to you?
DA: Reggae is my life. Without reggae I would have no purpose.
Tell us of a band, other than yourselves, that are hot on the reggae scene right now.
AB: Rootz Underground. The group has a unique sound that I like and they know how to communicate with the people.
DA: Steel Pulse and Morgan Heritage are among the elite reggae bands. I like them because they have established a legacy over many years of consistency.
What is the first reggae experience that you remember?
AB: Playing in Jamaica as a kid with a high school all girls band.
Has the reggae scene today been influenced by Bob Marley?
AB: Yes, not just by Bob Marley, but by my father, grandfather and uncle as well.
DA: All positive music today is influenced by Bob Marley. He is the symbol of peace worldwide.
Tell us some of the hits you will be performing during your Gulf tour…
AB: ‘Jamming’, ‘Could You Be Love’, ‘Is This Love’.
DA: Of course ‘One Love’ and ‘No Woman No Cry’.
How did you both get into joining The Wailers?
AB: I was born a Wailer, so I just finished up my education and then it was time.
DA: I joined The Wailers in 2010 after the release of my first popular single in Jamaica ‘Excuse Me Miss’.
Why should people come to your gig in Bahrain?
AB: To help to spread and keep love, peace and unity in their hearts.
DA: People should come to the show to be a part of this musical feast of positive vibration.
Aston, you performed with Bob Marley. Can you tell us what it was like to perform with him?
AB: My brother and I came in as the drum and bass, the architects for The Wailers’ sound. Bob had a very special connection with the musicians and the audiences we played for around the world.
Is Bob Marley the greatest musician you have ever performed with?
AB: I have performed with many great musicians, but with Bob there was a ‘Natural Mystic’ blowing through the air.
Who else have you performed with over the years? Who sticks out?
AB: Gilberbo Gil, Alpha Blondy, Kenny Chesney, The Fugees and most recently Lauryn Hill.
Where did the nickname ‘Family Man’ come from?
AB: I was given that name when I started out in music because I keep the music together and I kept all of the musicians together and we were a family.
The Wailers will be performing at Coral Bay on May 14 from 9pm onwards. Tickets are available at Coral Bay for BD12. Call 1731 2700 or 3374 5547.