The Wailers Warm Up the Sunshine State

By on January 26, 2016
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Josh Barrett The Wailers (Photo Will Ogburn RSEN 2016)

With lows in the mid forties last week, this was as close to winter as Florida can get. It was no wonder then that people flocked to the House of Blues in Disney for a ray of sunshine and a dose of positive vibes.

The Marquee read “The Wailers,” and it brought fans from far and wide. More than anything, reggae is the genre of music that ignores the boundaries of race and class. Combine that with a show on Disney property, and even I was surprised at the diversity of people who showed up.

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Family Man The Wailers (Photo Will Ogburn RSEN 2016)

It was a two-act show with a local group called I-Resolution as the opener. The scene looked a little like the cantina on Tatooine, with groups of friends huddled around the bar speaking their various different languages. When the first group came on, the chatter turned into a universal language of contented cheers and clapping.

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Ali Rebel I–Resolution (Photo Will Ogburn RSEN 2016)

I–Resolution

As the local troupe took the stage, you couldn’t help but notice they were just that: a small army. There were nine members on the stage, including a guy in the back whose entire job was to wave a giant, multi-colored flag with a lion on it. They had a full horn section to the right, as well as a pretty happy looking cat pounding away on a bongo next to them.

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(Photo Will Ogburn RSEN 2016)

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(Photo Will Ogburn RSEN 2016)

Their deep-voiced frontman, Ali Rebel, began to warm up the crowd with his energetic personality on stage. He danced around and kicked the air as the dance hall rythems overtook him and filled the House of Blues.

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I–Resolution (Photo Will Ogburn RSEN 2016)

I-Resolution was 98% positive, and their upbeat style kept both the bandmates and the crowd on their feet. The track that saw them in their element was “Move Your Body” – a quick, jazzy song that saw whole crowd jigging back and forth when the spotlights illuminated them.

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Gabriel Montero I–Resolution (Photo Will Ogburn RSEN 2016)

The wildcard of their set came in “Too Much Stout”, a trance-like blur of reggae that talks about a bad night at the bar. Ali introduced it by saying that sometimes when you’re partying it gets a little bit too crazy, and the refrain of “no fighting!” echoed throughout the song.

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Jake Jones I–Resolution (Photo Will Ogburn RSEN 2016)

The Takeaway: It was a strong showing for I-Resolution, a band that Orlando Weekly named the best reggae band of 2013. They played well in front of the home crowd, and surely endeared themselves to some international fans that were here on vacation. If you need an upbeat, reggae vibe to dance crazily while cleaning your house to, this is the band for you.

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Ali Rebel I–Resolution (Photo Will Ogburn RSEN 2016)

The Wailers

To appreciate the modern Wailers, you must first understand what they are. When Bob Marley was coming up in Jamaica he joined a band called The Wailers, which consisted of himself, Peter Tosh, and Bunny Wailer. This group would eventually disband, and each member would go on to have a successful solo career. Marley then started the second incarnation of the Wailers as a backing band for his personal work.

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Dwayne “Danglin” Anglin The Wailers (Photo Will Ogburn RSEN 2016)

The original lineup featured a pair of brothers, each of which would become famous for his contribution to reggae. Carlton “Carly” Barrett on the drums and Ashton “Family Man” Barrett on bass would help to shape Bob Marley and the Wailers into an iconic sound that has survived generations.

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Family Man The Wailers (Photo Will Ogburn RSEN 2016)

After Bob’s death in ’81, the Barretts would continue touring under The Wailers name. Only six years later, Carly was shot and killed outside of his home in Kingston, leaving Family Man as the sole carrier of the Wailers’ torch. The current lineup certainly includes some new faces, and a ton of new music – that tends to happen when you’ve been at it for half a century.

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Melvin Glover The Wailers (Photo Will Ogburn RSEN 2016)

With a band as diverse-looking as the crowd, The Wailers took the stage. Led by the stoic faces of Family Man and guitarist Melvin Glover, the group opened with an instrumental jam. Fans cheered with anticipation as the rock steady groove ambled on.

After several minutes of this, the team of vocalists walked out and began to liven up the beat. The two dread-headed frontmen Dwayne “Danglin” Anglin and Joshua Barrett (no relation to Family Man) began to rock back and forth while singing “Natural Mystic”

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Josh Barrett The Wailers (Photo Will Ogburn RSEN 2016)

The band would hit a groove for several minutes until Barrett broke it with a bit of morbid humor. “It has been ballistically proven that the sheriff shot Michael Brown,” said Josh Barrett, “So now let’s do a little ‘I Shot the Sheriff’!” The crowd cheered, laughed, and was otherwise confused by this dose of realness.

The Wailers have never strayed from controversy, and between songs they often talked about police brutality, racism, and war. Despite these heavy themes, they were able to keep the concert light and mellow by bookending it with positivity.

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Cegee Victory The Wailers (Photo Will Ogburn RSEN 2016)

One such euphoric moment was when the familiar organ notes of “No Woman No Cry” echoed through the building. Just like that famous live recording from 1975, the crowd’s cheers almost blocked out the soft music. They swayed back and forth with their arms extended, singing every word back to Anglin and Barrett.

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Josh Barrett The Wailers (Photo Will Ogburn RSEN 2016)

Next they took a minute to honor Family Man, who they announced had been on tour with The Wailers for 46 years. It’s amazing seeing someone that has literally brought happiness to millions of people…and probably smoked several cubic tons of ganja along the way.

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The Wailers (Photo Will Ogburn RSEN 2016)

They ended the first set with “One Love”, and it was a thing of beauty. Strangers locked hands and sang together in one language, bonded by the music. Moments like this are why I love reggae – because the music radiates togetherness and family.

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Chizzy Chisholm The Wailers (Photo Will Ogburn RSEN 2016)

The Wailers used the encore as more of an intermission than anything, as half of the show was still to come when they left the stage. When the group returned, it was Danglin Anglin that took the reins instead of Barrett.

Clad in a dread cap, Anglin began leading the crowd in “Redemption Song”. This was another powerful moment as the crowd connected with the original work of Bob Marley. It’s impossible to duplicate the raspy pain in his voice, but Anglin did a solid job capturing the emotion.

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Dwayne “Danglin” Anglin The Wailers (Photo Will Ogburn RSEN 2016)

This is where the hits began to flow – “Buffalo Soldier”, “Jammin”, “Could You Be Loved” – the crowd ate it up. The second act flew by, as it seemed like every song was a classic.

After the barrage of powerful vibes Anglin looked up with a smirk and said, “Now…as many of you know Rastafari not just here to entertain. We here to educate. And part of that is to smoke the herb. We smoke the herb to meditate and free our minds – let it be known that we are not potheads!”

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Dwayne “Danglin” Anglin The Wailers (Photo Will Ogburn RSEN 2016)

They closed out the night with another classic, “Get Up, Stand Up”. After hours of drinking and parading about inside the giant smoke cloud that had eaten up the floor, this song was a great choice as a finale.

The Takeaway: If you see a Wailers show, you will not be disappointed. Because of their long history, the group could probably entertain thousands in their sleep. The best part of the performance was their genuine nature, and the songs flowed out of them as naturally as breath. This is the type of show that makes you forget the time, as well as all of your problems for hours on end.

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