The Wailers @ The O2, Leeds

 

The story of The Wailers Band really begins during the 1960s. The original Wailers formed as a vocal harmony group in the Trench Town slum in 1963, initially as a quintet, but later slimming to the committed core of Bob Marley, Peter Tosh and Bunny Livingston (aka Bunny Wailer). Percussionist Alvin ‘Seeco’ Patterson brought them to an audition at Studio One, which resulted in their first hit recordings, and during the years when ska and rocksteady were all the rage, the group recorded and performed with an ever-changing cast of session musicians (with Seeco often part of the picture). But everything changed around 1969-70, when they began working with the maverick producer Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry, who had harnessed the skills of a pair of young brothers as his in-house rhythm section: bassist Aston ‘Family Man’ Barrett and his drumming brother Carlton made such an impression on Marley that he convinced them to become the rhythm section of The Wailers Band, once The Wailers broke away from Perry to establish their own Tuff Gong label. They were soon joined by two very young and very talented keyboard players, Earl ‘Wya’ Lindo and Tyrone Downie, who had totally different styles from each other, and who performed alternate duties, depending on need.

Once The Wailers signed to Island Records in 1972 for the Catch A Fire album, they needed a band to go on the road with them as well as to record, and Fams, Carly, Seeco and Wya were crucial parts of the team. Junior Marvin became part of the band by the Exodus album, his rock lead lines helping to broaden the sound. Wya returned for the One Love Peace Concert in April 1978, and to do overdubs on the Kaya album, the twin-keyboard format added another element of musical complexity, as heard more clearly on Survival. This is the lineup that remained with Bob Marley right to the end, making the Wailers Reunion project a truly historic one.

For the first time since the death of Bob Marley, all of these players, except for Carlton Barrett, who was tragically murdered in 1987, shall come together again to make another display of musical unity. Family Man will be joined by his son, Aston Junior, on drums, along with Seeco, Wya, Tyrone, Donald Kinsey and Junior Marvin. It is the moment so many reggae fans have always dreamt of, despite the many obstacles that might have been in the way.

Two things blew me away at the gig: the guitar work of Junior Marvin & the vocal presence of Josh Barrett.

Josh David has a commanding task as The Wailers band lead vocalist. Taking on the words of Bob Marley may be daunting to some, but not for the young Rasta lion from Roselle, NJ. Josh David stands firm and authentic in the singing spotlight.

Currently living in Brooklyn, NY, Josh David prides himself as a bridge between Reggae’s former and latter spiritual and musical “troditions.” Joining forces with the world’s most well-known Reggae band, he is grateful and honoured to be a part of this renowned team of musicians, guided for decades by his distant cousin, bassist Aston “Familyman” Barrett.

As a youth in New Jersey, Josh David grew up in church. It was there he joined the choir and began performing for his congregation and community. In addition to singing, he plays guitar, bass, drums, and piano. His extensive talent and easy going personality led him to performing with such Gospel greats as Grammy-winner Tramaine Hawkins, Kim Burrell, and Donovan Jackson & Joshua Generation. He later recorded or performed with R&B and Hip-Hop stars, including Common, Q-Tip, Quincy Jones, Kanye, Mary J. Blige, and Solange Knowles. Recently, Josh David has worked with renowned Ethiopian singer Teddy Afro and Grammy-winning producer Commissioner Gordon, of Lauryn Hill/Amy Winehouse/Ghetto Youths fame.

The door to Reggae opened when the music and message touched his soul. He travelled to Jamaica, his great-grandfather’s homeland, to record, perform, and create videos with Ghetto Youths’ artists Biggz General and Dax Lion. A highlight of that Kingston journey was performing on a stage that also featured Chronixx, Jesse Royal, and Bongo Herman.

On a UN trip to Tunisia to perform a series of US Embassy-endorsed shows, Josh David remembers the kindness of the Rasta youth he met there. His dedication to Rastafari continues, exemplified in the conscious lifestyle he lives. He proclaims it was the will of JAH that brought him to meet Aston Barrett, Jr., Familyman’s son and drummer for The Wailers, in 2012. The two young talented Rasta lions kept in touch, and in 2014, Josh David was blessed with the opportunity to join The Wailers band as its lead singer.

Having traversed this musical journey, from church youth, to performing with today’s top artists, to circling the globe with The Wailers, Josh David has joined the struggle to trod paths created by the Honorable Robert Nesta Marley, O.M., Peter Tosh, O.M., and Bunny Wailer, O.J. Joshua David Barrett lives and sings the songs of freedom. His mission, to uplift and inspire a new generation of Wailers’ fans, comes from the heart. Like Bob Marley, his enthusiastic performances keep steadfast in honouring the life and legacy of Ethiopia’s “Talaku Meri/Great Leader” Emperor Haile Selassie I. The legendary Wailers band continues spreading the message of “One Love” globally and throughout the Kingdom of The Most-High, Jah Rastafari.