A family affair

The event begins at 5pm on Friday, 6 May, and will feature a meet-and-greet with the outfit. The concert follows and is for ages 18 and over.

Also performing on the night are George Town’s own Clever Knots, which features Rich Dyer, Sean Ebanks and Adrian Ebanks with their interesting and varied style. Another band is also lined up to appear, to be confirmed.

Tickets cost $30 or $80 for VIP and are available at the Hard Rock Cafe plus Big Daddy’s and Blackbeards stores. For more information email [email protected] or ring 623-7625.

There are many wannabes who’d mark themselves as legends but very few who actually deserve that accolade.

Weekender is delighted to be in the company of Family Man, bass player of The Wailers. This is a guy so steeped in bass that he has the lowest voice of any man we’ve ever heard. This truly legendary musician looks back on his career with the unique view of someone who has seen everything the world has to offer and is gently amused by it – not least the music itself.

“I been doin’ it before Bob, with Bob and after Bob. On the road from 1969 to 2011, non-stop without even a vacation. Watching the tide go by, the different concepts of music and what they add into reggae and try and call it reggae but it’s not.

“Some of them [make] leaves and branches but I and I is de roots. Keeping it in the roots music style to the best of my musical ability and my integrity.”

It’s impossible to understate the impact that Bob Marley and the Wailers had on not just music but the way a generation thought – you can bet your bottom dollar that there are still kids discovering Lively Up Yourself for the first time and dreaming in sunset hue. The jovial Family Man – so called due to fathering 42 kids – knows that he was part of something that changed the world.

“For all the good people in Cayman coming down, we bring back the golden age of wine and roses; that is our mission.”

As for the bottom end, it’s a mission that the bass player is bang up for.

“Bass is the backbone of the movement; my brother used to play the drums on the offbeat. The bass keeps the music so strong over the years. Here I come again, as the song says, ‘ready or not, here I come,’ back to Cayman Islands.”

Soulful reggae

The Wailers have sold in excess of 250 million albums worldwide. In England alone, they’ve notched up over 20 chart hits, including seven Top 10 entries. Outside of their groundbreaking work with Marley, the Wailers have also played or performed with international acts like Sting, the Fugees, Stevie Wonder, Carlos Santana, and Alpha Blondy, as well as reggae legends such as Peter Tosh, Bunny Wailer, and Burning Spear. As the greatest living exponents of Jamaica’s reggae tradition, the Wailers have completed innumerable other tours, playing to an estimated 24 million people across the globe. They have also been the first reggae band to tour new territories on many occasions, including Africa and the Far East.

Their nucleus formed in 1969, when Bob Marley, Bunny Wailer, and Peter Tosh recruited the Barrett brothers – bassist Aston “Family Man” and drummer Carly – from Lee Perry’s Upsetters to play on hits such as Lively Up Yourself, Trenchtown Rock, Duppy Conqueror, and many more besides. Inspired by Rastafari and their ambitions of reaching an international audience, this is the line-up that pioneered roots rock reggae, and signed to Island Records in 1971. Bunny and Peter left two years later. It was at this point that the in-demand Barrett brothers – whose rhythms also underpinned innumerable seventies’ reggae hits by other acts – assumed the title of Wailers, and backed Marley on the group’s international breakthrough album, Natty Dread. Under Family Man’s musical leadership, they then partnered Bob Marley on the succession of hit singles and albums that made him a global icon, winner of several Lifetime Achievement awards, and Jamaica’s best-loved musical superstar.

Drummer Carlton Carlie Barrett died in 1987, leaving his brother as the main beneficiary of the Wailers’ mantle.

New and old energy

Family Man is pleased with the current and past line-ups of the band.

“The new energy of the band is good and of course the first energy was important. Bob said that this music would never end, it would just get big and big until it finds its rightful place. I say the music of the Wailers is like the moon: and the older the moon, the brighter it shines.”

Over the years, Family Man has become a mentor to younger artists. It’s notable that one of his pupils was Robbie Shakespeare, now himself a legend of the bass plus Earl Lindo.

“It’s a non-stop, this life; music is inspiration and keeping the spirit of Bob Marley alive through reggae music [is important]. But people should know that the man who was behind Bob is Family Man, musical arranger, producer and finally bass player. The man who put the band together. I did it.

“I keep pushing on; I can’t stop. I am working on a new concept of a Wailers album right now. When people see the beat that move the feet and one good thing about music – when it hits you, you feel

okay. I am here to inspire; to keep reggae going. Not these computer sounds but that [classic] sound.”

And with that, it’s time to say farewell, for now. Or, as Aston Family Man Barrett puts it:

“One love.”