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  • Carl Beust

The Wailers at Blue Note in Honolulu

Blue Note Hawaii has brought some of the world’s top jazz artists to Hawaii. What many people outside Hawaii may not realize is the clubs dedication to the local and international reggae scene. The Wailers were the latest act brought to the venue.

Like many people I was introduced to reggae through the music of Bob Marley and The Wailers. At eleven years old I asked my parents to take me to their concert in Shelton, Connecticut. The hair, the accents, the music, I was hooked. Although I couldn’t attend the concert, my obsession with reggae began.

I was excited to learn of The Wailers multi-night residency at The Blue Note. Although I was curious as to which members would be joining the band. Unfortunately two core members, Aston “Family Man” Barrett and Donald Kinsey were not present in this incarnation of the band. Junior Marvin (guitar and vocals), Aston Barrett Jr. (drums), Owen “Dreddie” Reid (bass), Josh Barrett (vocals) arrived in Hawaii from Japan.

It was a treat to see this band in such an intimate venue. The eighty minute performance was dripping with positivity and optimism. Junior Marvin, who played guitar with Marley, shared vocals on half of the songs with Josh Barrett. Barrett’s raw voice and natural charisma evoked the Marley spirit. The two female vocalist harmonies were prominently featured in every song. The band played all the perennial favorites and encored with “Could You Be Love” and “Exodus”.

Although the full band was not in Hawaii this ensemble kept the memory alive. The lyrics of The Wailers songs resonate today just as they had over forty years ago. That may be one reason their popularity continues on today.


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