Here's something that doesn't happen all that often. One of the living legends of reggae will be playing two shows in Arkansas this week. Obviously, when people think of the Wailers, Bob Marley, Peter Tosh and Bunny Wailer are at the top of mind.
But give credit where it's due: Bassist Aston "Family Man" Barrett is a legend in his own right. He had a big hand in shaping the sound of one of the most vital bands in the history of pop music. He and his brother, drummer Carlton Barrett, joined the Wailers in 1970, and stayed with Marley after Tosh and Bunny left the group to pursue solo careers.
As if that wasn't sufficient for cementing his legacy, Barrett had also played with dub innovator and bona fide sonic genius/madman Lee "Scratch" Perry's Upsetters. And in addition to the countless albums he performed on and/or produced, he played on what is, for my money, the greatest roots reggae album ever, Burning Spear's utterly timeless and essential "Marcus Garvey."
For decades now, he's led The Wailers Band with a rotating cast of folks, many of whom also played in the '70s lineup, including his brother (who died in 1987), Earl Lindo, Tyrone Downey and others. Handling vocal duties for the band now is Koolant Brown, a charismatic singer who recently told the Miami Herald that while he knows he'll "never be Bob," it's nonetheless "a privilege and an honor to sing his songs."
Opening the show is Butterfly and Irie Soul.
The Wailers play at Walton Arts Center Saturday.