A last-minute development at work left us free a little early on a Friday afternoon, and that was all the time and motivation needed for a two-hour drive to Austin for that city’s venerable Reggae Festival. (Note: Our home base is Houston, about 165 miles away, but a drive from our house in the burbs to the Texas capital city is exactly two hours.)
That jaunt was solely to see The Wailers, the backing band that performed behind the great Bob Marley back in the day. Now this is not the original Wailers, who included Bunny Livingston (Wailer) and Peter Tosh, but a representation of the lineup that performed as Bob Marley and the Wailers from 1974 until Marley’s death in 1981.
I say a “representation” because The Wailers are now led by Aston “Family Man” Barrett, the sole original member remaining, on bass. Duane Anglin has been the band’s lead singer since the beginning of this year. This was one funky jammin’ reggae party, with classic Marley tunes like “Jammin’,” “One Love/People Get Ready,” “Rastaman Vibration” and of course, “Three Little Birds,” which is one of the best-known reggae songs of all time.
Singer Anglin (“Danglin”) is more than up to the task of carrying Marley’s torch, he offered some nice vocals on “Ride Natty Ride” and a nicely stoned version of Marley’s “I Shot The Sheriff.” At one point in the show Anglin announced from the stage that the second suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings had been apprehended, adding “Send Jah praises,” in relief that no more lives were taken.
This was one of the friendliest, most mellow gatherings I’ve ever attended at Austin’s Auditorium Shores. Sure, there was a lot of smoke wafting in the air, and it was a beautifully cool and clear evening for live music. We headed for the parking garage as the set wound down with an encore of “Redemption Song” and “Exodus.”
The festival continued for two more days, but we opted for only the Wailers experience. The Wailers themselves turned up in Houston two nights later to play at our excellent International Festival, and we chose not to go to that either.
Instead, we enjoyed the buzz from Friday’s sparkling set by riding around sunny Austin on Saturday with the car windows down, and Maestro Marley himself in the CD player. Beautiful.
YouTube: “Three Little Birds” at the Austin Reggae Fest (thanks to Obed Gonzalez)