Members of the Wailers at Hawks & Reed - photo by Kelly D

The Wailers Hawks and Reed Performing Arts Center, Greenfield, MA May 11, 2018
Story, photos, and video by Kelly D

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The Wailers performed to a packed crowd at Hawks and Reed in the middle of May, kicking off a weekend of celebration in the music venue located in the heart of Greenfield. (Some might say H&R has become THE heart of Greenfield, it being so prolific and consistently bringing top-notch entertainment to Franklin County.) It’s hard to believe but at that point in time H&R had only been known as its current incarnation for less than a year. I was pleased to see a legitimate line forming on the perimeter of the building on Court Square, adjacent to the Wailers’ tour bus- with a rope! So fancy. People filtered into the venue, grooving to the sounds of Camilo I-Ganic Sound System. I delighted in running into about a dozen friends of mine, something I always can count on when going to H&R. Around 9:30, the Wailers took the stage.

From the YouTube channel of Nathaniel Arai

Not to be confused with the Original Wailers, the Wailers are headed by bassist Aston “Familyman” Barrett. Along with some members of his family (hence the name), Barrett joins other longtime members Donald Kinsey (lead guitar) and Junior Marvin (lead guitar and vox). Though he wasn’t there that night, Dreadie Reid took up the bass (and, occasionally, rhythm guitar) at his behest. The other pieces of the troupe are:

    • Shema McGregor – Vocals-Harmony

The group fit snugly up on the H&R stage and gave us a night of beautiful reggae with much love and appreciation for the spirit of Bob Marley and the legacy of the Wailers. The setlist included many, many highlights from Bob Marley and the Wailers’ catalog, namely from the albums Exodus and Kaya. The first part of the set included such favorites as “Buffalo Soldier” and “Is This Love”. . . And then the fire alarm went off.

Thankfully, all was handled with professionalism and decorum- the Wailers took a quick intermission and came back strong for an unintentional second set, with Dreadie Reid quipping that “Our good energy set the fire alarm off!” From then on it was jam after jam, with classics like “I Shot the Sheriff,” “One Love,” “Three Little Birds,” as well as an expected cover of “Johnny B. Goode.” Then came “Lively Up Yourself,” “Could You Be Loved,” and “Get Up, Stand Up.” The crowd couldn’t get enough.

Personally I loved the inclusion of Shema McGregor, whose soulful voice added feminine energy to the otherwise male group. The camaraderie between the band members was also on full display- you can’t miss that kind of love. It’s lovely to witness.

I had a great conversation with Cheli Mennella and her husband Dave Noonan (of Dave Noonan’s Green Island, who opened for the Skatalites at H&R back in April at Green Fest 2018) about the night and the wild events leading up to the unplanned intermission. Cheli, who also wrote a great review of Lee “Scratch” Perry’s appearance at the Hawks & Reed rebranding party last May) mentioned the energy in the room and how it almost had to break as it did. Maybe so, but I’m just glad the show didn’t have to end and was able to reignite and soothe our souls.

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Check out the Live Music News and Facebook page for updates and announcements.