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» GUEST RUNDOWNS » “I THINK BOB IS THERE ON STAGE GUIDING ME” SAYS NEW LEAD SINGER OF THE WAILERS!

“I THINK BOB IS THERE ON STAGE GUIDING ME” SAYS NEW LEAD SINGER OF THE WAILERS!

By Erik Ofgang 
  • The Wailers are headed to the Ridgefield Playhouse for a Thursday night show. The May 24 performance starts at 8 p.m. Photo: Contributed Photo / CT
    The Wailers are headed to the Ridgefield Playhouse for a Thursday night show. The May 24 performance starts at 8 p.m. Photo: Contributed Photo / CT—-

 

When Koolant Brown sings the music of Bob Marley with The Wailers, he said he doesn’t try to imitate the legendary reggae star.

“I’m not Bob and I just approach it as Koolant Brown. As me myself I get into it and deliver it in my own way to the people,” he said during a recent phone interview.

Brown added that he feels Marley’s spirit on stage with him when he performs.

“I think Bob is there with me, he’s there guiding, he’s always there,” Brown said.

An iconic reggae group, The Wailers were formed by the remaining original members of Bob Marley and the Wailers following the death of Marley in 1981. The Wailers, who have sold more than 250 million albums worldwide, will perform on Thursday, May 24, at the Ridgefield Playhouse. Opening will be Yellow Dubmarine, a Beatles reggae tribute band playing Beatles classics with reggae rhythms.

In addition to new members like Brown, The Wailers are anchored by Aston “Family Man” Barrett. Barrett was Marley’s bass player and is credited with creating most of the classic bass lines for Marley’s songs.

Brown has a thick Jamaican accent and speaks slowly with a soft baritone voice that tends to make his words linger. There’s clearly a spiritual aspect to The Wailers’ music for him and as he speaks he often quotes Marley’s lyrics as though quoting a line of scripture. In our interview, Brown spoke about the upcoming show, his favorite Wailers’ songs to play, and the mystic nature of Marley’s music.

Q: What can people expect to see at The Wailers show?

A: They can expect the teachings of Rastafari; you know, righteousness. They can expect the good vibes of this reggae music and happiness. Solely righteousness shall exalt the nation. They can expect positive vibrations.

Q: How did you originally start performing with The Wailers?

A: One day I was at home and got a call from The Wailers. They wanted a lead singer and I didn’t refuse. I was doing my solo tour; before that I had a song called “Rat Race” on the airwaves. The Wailers called me and asked me. I just went on the journey because Jah leads you on a journey, so wherever Jah tells me to go I will go.

Q: Do you have a favorite song to sing or perform?

A: My favorite songs from Bob Marley, “Could You be Loved,” “One Love,” you know happy songs, “Kinky Reggae,” “Exodus,” “Natural Mystic” and many more. If I started to count all of my favorite songs it would never end.

Q: What was the biggest challenge when you first started singing with the group?

A: To be singing in front of thousands of people. I was singing before (for large crowds), but this crowd was bigger than what I was doing. To see the love, to see all the people who had gravitated to this music of righteousness, I was overwhelmed.

Q: This music has obviously spread all over the world and you have fans who don’t even speak English. Can you talk about that?

A: When music hits, you feel no pain. The music is so wonderful, some people do not understand the words, but the message of Jah bursts out and they enjoy it. Many people, even in my country, they don’t understand; we speak patwah (a combination of English and West African languages) in Jamaica, so they don’t understand the words, but they love the music, they feel the power, you know — the vibe.

Q: So the vibe transcends the words and the meaning comes across?

A: Yes. It’s mystic. Sometimes I wonder how myself, but it’s mystic.

 

The Ridgefield Playhouse, 80 E. Ridge Ridgefield. Thursday, May 24, 8 p.m. $50. 203-438-5795, www.ridgefieldplayhouse.org.

 

Erik Ofgang is a freelance writer in Connecticut; erikofgang@gmail.com

 

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