Summer To-Do’s: Rock Out with the Wailers at Asheville Music Hall

Tim Burkhardt

On Thursday, July 19, a diverse crowd gathered at Asheville Music Hall to celebrate the music and message of Bob Marley with a concert by The Original Wailers.

While the Wailers did not take the stage until 10:30, the late start had no effect on the  audience’s enthusiasm: as the band opened with a lively version of "Natty Dread," the dance floor erupted with people shaking various appendages, anteriors, and posteriors.Genuine-looking Rastas decked out in green, yellow, and red danced among hippie girls with dreads and jewels glued to their foreheads, soul-sisters wearing bright cotton dresses and head-wraps, and even a few middle-class, khaki-clad socialites.

Al Anderson, former guitarist for Bob Marley and Peter Tosh, coolly delivered slick electric guitar licks as the rhythm section filled the club with the drums of Paapa Nyarkoh and the shaking bass of Steve Samuels. The band followed up their rendition of “Natty Dread” with “Rastaman Vibration” and a laid-back version of “Stir It Up” that had couples passionately groping each other all over the venue.

The Wailers then launched into a set of original tunes from their recent album, Miracles Particularly impressive was the bass-heavy jam “We Are the Children,” during which keyboardist and vocalist Desi Hyson lead the audience in a call-and-response chorus.

After four or five originals, the band then returned to Bob Marley hits with the iconic “Three Little Birds.”

And the fans went wild.

Before the show, Reverb was given the opportunity to do a short interview with Al Anderson. Here’s what Anderson had to say.

Reverb: What does Bob Marley’s music mean to you?

Anderson: It was a tremendous opportunity to be a part of one of the greatest bands in the history of music. Through playing with Bob, I met some great musicians and wonderful people and we were able to bring a universal message to the world.

R: Aside from Bob Marley, who was your favorite artist to work with?

A: Playing with Peter Tosh was a great thrill and being a part of Lauryn Hill’s rise to superstardom was very satisfying.

R: What was the biggest musical event of your life?

A: Towards the end of Bob Marley and the Wailers, we played some extremely big shows in Africa with well over 130,000 fans at Milan arena, and meeting Paul and George (Beatles) backstage sharing musical views at Madison Square Garden.

R: What do you think it is about Bob Marley’s music that speaks to such a diverse audience?

A: We were able to cross many musical boundaries with the creative abilities from all the members of the Wailers, from rock, to roots and to reggae.

R: Are things still difficult between Anderson, and Family Man Barrett, and Bunny Wailer? Are they any closer to reconciliation, or is the dispute ongoing?

A: We are all Original Wailers and we share that experience together. I believe some day we will all be playing on the same stage together because of the music we all helped to create is something we all share with the rest of the world.

As for now, a Wailer reunion of that magnitude is something fans can only hope. Nonetheless, the legend of Bob Marley’s music grows. Around the world, people are still moved by the songs of Jamaica and, as expressed by the looks on the faces in last night’s crowd, reggae is here to stay.

Be on the lookout for photos from Thursday’s show to appear on Reverb soon.