There are few more authentic links to Bob Marley & the Wailers than Aston “Family Man” Barrett. The former bass guitarist on some of Marley’s legendary albums, he was also a members of the Upsetters, Lee “Scratch” Perry’s studio band. Suffice it to say that Barrett is a legend, and any chance that you get to hear a legend perform is probably worth the time and money. In this case, the money is somewhere between thrifty and pricey, and the venue the Chance – itself a legend in Poughkeepsie.
It’s worth noting here that this isn’t the only version of the Wailers; the Original Wailers, another offshoot of Marley’s band, have also recently played the Chance. For lack of a family tree to show who played on what and when, suffice it to say that the Wailers headlining at the Chance on Friday, December 30 are the band led by Barrett, with a vocalist named Koolant Brown.
Outside of their groundbreaking work with Marley, the Wailers have also played with Sting, the Fugees, Stevie Wonder, Carlos Santana and Albpha Blondy, as well as reggae legends Peter Tosh, Bunny Wailer and Burning Spear. At the risk of criticizing something positive, the Wailers’ website features a video of a new song, “A Step for Mankind,” which is doing a noble thing by association with the World Food Programme, the humanitarian food aid branch of the United Nations. It’s a worthy cause, and it’s clear that it means a lot to the Wailers. The song also bears little in common with what you might imagine if you spent most of college in a contemplative haze while wearing out your copy of Legend. It sounds more like “We Are the World”: another song for a good cause that will also cause you to be labeled a heartless cynic if you mention how much you don’t ever want to hear it again.
Also potentially a cause for concern are the names of the other bands on the bill at the Chance: Royal Khaoz; Stinking Gringos; Yanks; Outernational. The monikers are something of a mixed bag, to be sure. But Royal Khaoz is actually a terrific reggae band, and there’s good reason to turn up early and hear everyone else, too. Call it an appetizer before New Year’s Eve, if you will.
Tickets to the Wailers at the Chance on Friday, December 30 are $25 in advance, $30 the day of the show. For more information, call Upstate Reggae in Woodstock, responsible for bringing many great acts to the Hudson Valley, at (845) 679-3382 or The Chance at (845) 471-1966.