Bob Marley was one of the 20th century’s most iconic figures. His music and his Rastafarian ideals connected with people on every continent. Over 35 years since his untimely death from brain cancer, his original band, The Wailers, continue to play to large audiences worldwide. They’ll be making a stop at Cranston’s Park Theatre this Friday, October 13 at 8PM.
I spoke to Wailers original guitarist Junior Marvin last week while he was looking for a place to have lunch in Nashville where he and the band were preparing for a show. A reggae band in Nashville, you might ask?
“Nashville has so many types of music here now. It’s like a mixture, it’s really developed a lot in terms of appreciation of music – reggae does pretty good. It’s really thriving as a music capital in the United States,” Marvin explained.
He’s looking forward to playing in Rhode Island, and noted that he sees a real mix of fans at shows. “A lot of kids heard the music from their parents, and to them I guess the next best thing to seeing Bob Marley is seeing The Wailers. They request all the songs, it’s like family music.
Marvin played on the historic final tour with Marley in 1980, a tour that had a stop at Brown’s Meehan Auditorium in Providence, the 4th to last concert Marley ever played. According to many who attended, it was a legendary show and can be located around the internet. He remembered the tour…
“We were getting ready to play sixty shows with Stevie Wonder, that would have been amazing” he recalled. Unfortunately, Marley was forced to quit touring just a week after the Providence show due to his cancer diagnosis.
Marvin acknowledged that touring has become more intense over the years. “Back in the 70’s we’d tour four days and rest three. Now, it’s like we tour six days a week and rest one. Bands have to perform a lot more live music now to make a living out of it. The format for music has changed so much – you have to adapt. Lucky for bands, people love live music.”
Marvin’s career in show business began in 1965 when he was an extra in the Beatles movie “Help.”
“I was about 14 and they were filming a scene of Ringo running in the Bahamas being chased by local police. They didn’t get enough footage, so they simulated the same beach in a studio on the outskirts of London and that’s where I did the scene with the Beatles. We spent like three days there so I got to hang out with them a little bit. They were funny and good musicians and songwriters.
I also spoke to lead singer Joshua David Barrett, who is one of the newer members of the band. “I grew up around music in church. My mother used to play ska, I didn’t really get into Wailers music until I was more so a teenager. I’m a professional bass player as well and love all kinds of music.
“I joined the band officially in 2015. It’s an honor, a privilege and a great joy. To realize that other people can relate to it, no matter which continent we’re in, we find people that relate to the same experiences. I feel honor, homage and respect to Bob Marley and the others that came before.”
He shared his positive message for fans.
“We’ll hopefully give a voice of uplift to this generation and generations to come. The US has a reputation of not supporting live music, like in the UK or Europe, but having seen most of the US with The Wailers, I have to say I’m very pleased to see the amount of people that support this music. I know it was very important to Brother Bob Marley to reach the audience here, the African descendants here. There’s a wide range now, I think that’s been accomplished.”
If you’re at the show, you’ll hear some new tunes from an album the band is working on. Stand Firm is expected to be released on Bob Marley’s birthday, February 6th. “They’ll be a couple of new songs and songs from Legend, Exodus, and more classic Bob Marley songs,” assured Marvin.
Catch The Wailers Friday October 13 at the Park Theatre. Further details here.