Concert Spotlight: The Original Wailers

Kicking Off Summer with One Love

Reggae group The Original Wailers were formed in 2008 by guitarists Al Anderson and Junior Marvin who also played earlier in their careers with Bob Marley & The Wailers and head to Stephen Talkhouse on May 31. Though Marvin has moved on, The Original Wailers‘ show is in the spirit of Bob Marley’s music, a staple for international beach life, especially the Hamptons. The Original Wailers have had a tumultuous run over the years with band member changes and different iterations of the group (The Wailers, Bob Marley & The Wailers), legal disputes and of course the loss of the legend himself Bob Marley who passed away at the age of 36 in 1981. When you are the icon Bob Marley, everyone wants a piece of you and not everyone’s intentions are necessarily the best. But one thing is for sure and that is how the music unites people, from “One Love” to “Get Up, Stand Up” to “I Shot the Sheriff,” this timeless songbook stands for peace, change and rebellion. Al Anderson spoke with Hamptons Monthly about growing up just outside of New York City in Montclair, NJ, attending Berklee and playing with an early version of what is now Aerosmith before making his way to life on the road with Bob Marley and his family in England, Jamaica and Miami.

On May 31 The Original Wailers take over at Stephen Talkhouse and you are kicking off our summer season of music in Hamptons Monthly. What’s been your experience over the years in the Hamptons and do you have any memories over the years with the band?
I’m from New York and I basically spent a lot of times in the Hamptons with many, many reggae bands for the last 30-40 years touring all over that area. Martha’s Vineyard, Rhode Island, Southampton, all of it. Stephen Talkhouse brings out a really hot crowd. I think one-and-a-half years ago Jimmy Fallon came on down for a number, it was really cool.
The Original Wailers have newer songs like “Our Day Will Come” and “We Are The Children,” and you of course have an iconic songbook from Bob Marley & The Wailers. From the classic and newer material, what do you find creates the greatest crowd response?
The new stuff, we put out that album and we got a Grammy nomination and we lost to Jimmy Cliff and Tim Armstrong. We put the album out and got some really nice reviews and now we have a singer from Puerto Rico, Chet Samuel. He’s got a great album called Say My Name and it’s just been a joy working with him. We play some of his songs and some of our catalog. “Three Little Birds,” “Buffalo Soldier,” “No Woman No Cry”. Those are the goodies in the catalog but we sing and produce our own music as well, if not a tribute to Bob Marley.
Speaking of Marley, what was it like recording and touring with him?
I was a slave to Marley and Peter Tosh’s music. We would stay up for months overdubbing, expanding, overdubbing, mixing, producing. We would spend months preparing for Bob’s music. I really felt great knowing if I put everything into this guy’s music maybe it would benefit everyone. I lived with him for nearly 10 years, I knew his family and his mother and how his business was conducted. He pretty much lived up to everything that he delivered.
Unfortunately, he was just so young and he didn’t have the lawyers and the people checking for him. There were so many spies and record company people friending us up. People knew he was a great songwriter, Clive Davis owned some of his publishing. He was just 36 years old, he was just ripe. The last songs he did were an image of the next album to come. Everything was amazing. John Lennon, McCartney, there’s really only few guys who could keep up this level of poetry. This is so meaningful and it could make my mother cry; some songs were political, he was the complete package, he had really god-like energy. We played for like 160,000 at Milan Arena, in Australia, Africa. It was an amazing journey. The most difficult thing is to represent it where you don’t get scrutinized by the public. And what’s the future of him? I don’t know. Michael & Quincy came to Hope Road, they were interested in doing some serious advance for his publishing, they were going to buy a studio for him, it was way huge what they were going to offer.
What about The Original Wailers music do you think makes for the perfect night out in the summer in the Hamptons and how are the new guys Chet Samuel (lead vocals/guitar), Omar Lopez (bass), Paapa Nyarkoh (drums) and Adrian AK Cisneros (keyboards/organs) carrying on the legacy of Bob Marley & The Wailers‘ music?
Well, they’re younger and they did their homework and it’s not a half-ass thing. It’s really to get people to sing along with us and the catalog material. It’s basically a sing-a-long and everyone is connected to one another. We cut and we let them be the vocalists. And the guys in the group understand what that music represented and it’s not a tribute or a wannabe, it’s real musicians who spent nearly ten years with Bob Marley with his family. I played with Peter Tosh also, I left the Wailers to play his music. Respectfully. People want entertainment to feel good, it’s not about how long your hair is and how long your guitar solo is – it’s about getting people dancing and singing along to you and I respect that. I respect Peter, Bob and Bunny and I will carry that to my grave.
Do you have a favorite song off the album Legend which you recorded on? What did you play on this album?
I picked the bassline or played lead. All of them are my favorites, “Smile Jamaica” is my favorite song and I’m not on that. I was really disappointed cause I went to get something to eat and they did one take and it was fuckin’ perfect.