The history of The Wailers is a turbulent one. Bob Marley’s band has included many members and since his untimely death in 1981, there have been various incarnations of The Wailers, often touring at the same time. The version that graced the Tower Theatre stage this past Wednesday centers around Aston Barrett’s ensemble and delivered Marley’s vision of roots reggae to the OKC masses. Disappointingly, Aston “Family Man” Barrett himself wasn’t present except in spirit. It seems health issues limit his appearances these days, but with that said, the musicians that did grace the Tower stage displayed the exceptional power and healing qualities of music. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a performance that filled that room with such obvious joy. It was a joy that wasn’t easily distinguishable between band and audience, and perhaps shared is the right description.
This version of The Wailers includes, “Family Man’s” son Aston Barrett on drums, cousin Josh Barrett on rhythm guitar and vocals. Additionally, early Wailers alum Donald Kinsey handles guitar along with Wendel “Junior Jazz” Ferraro, as well as Owen “Dreadie” Reid handling the bass for “Family Man”. Shema McGregor, (who is original I Three member, Judy Mowatt’s daughter) and AnnMarie Thompson provided beautiful background harmonies and engaging dance moves throughout the set. The live ensemble is rounded out by Adreas Lopez handling keys.
Mostly focusing on the popular side of Marley’s catalog, the band kept the crowd energized throughout. Pretty much every iconic song you can think of was performed, from the opening “Natural Mystic” to the final encore of “Exodus”. Frontman Josh Barrett does an exceptionally fine job at filling shoes that could never be completely filled. There’s a spirit present that seems to guide Barrett and the band in delivering these songs, and if you close your eyes and let the music take over it’s a pretty magical thing.
Highlights were many, with “Redemption Song”, “Get Up, Stand Up” and “No Woman No Cry” particularly standing out for me. Additionally, Donald Kinsey delivered his own reggae infused version of “Johhny B. Goode” that was fantastic. I didn’t really know what to expect walking into the Tower Theatre this evening, but it far exceeded my expectations. I’ll definitely look forward to seeing The Wailers once again. You can find more information and tour dates for The Wailers here: https://www.thewailers.net/
Opening the evening was Rousey, a local six piece band with a sound centered around vintage a rock and funk vibe and ultimately, making people get up and dance. They did just that with their high energy set, and absolutely did a fine job of warming up the audience for The Wailers. The OKC band consists of Harrison handling vocals, Tom shredding guitar, Nicolai on bass, Austin on drums Matthew on keys and Garrett wailing away on sax. The band dropped a new single in December of 2018 titled “Tigers and Yachts”. They were quite entertaining and did a fabulous job connecting with the audience. Definitely a band to keep an eye on. The best place to find more information on these gentlemen would be their Facebook page, which can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/RouseyBand/