The Wailers return to Martha’s Vineyard for concert

The Wailers, pictured recording at Tuff Gong Studios in Jamaica. — Photo by William Richards

The Wailers are coming to Martha’s Vineyard, and they bring with them the easy-going yet impassioned Jamaican approach that keeps finding success on the world stage.

“Jamaica is all about fun,” Usain Bolt said, in his first interview with NBC after repeating as the world’s fastest man in the 100 meters at the London Olympics. That fun has long been best embodied by the distinctive sound of Jamaican reggae music, and no one group has found more acclaim than The Wailers.

The Wailers will play at The Lampost, on Circuit Avenue in Oak Bluffs, on Tuesday, August 14. Junior Toots, Mike Martin y Los Rootsticks, and Selectah Niko of One Drop Sound System will also perform. The Wailers are a legendary group, and they stop by the Island as part of their Revolution Tour, which brings them around the United States.

The Wailers are an evolving mix of new and old — both staying true to the music of Bob Marley’s original backing band and demonstrating their ability to bring in talent to match changing times. Genre-defining bassist Aston “Family Man” Barrett, one of Bob Marley’s trusted lieutenants, a founding member of the band, and a staple on countless classic reggae songs, solidifies the old school reputation and acts as the band’s anchor.

Koolant, an uncannily talented reggae singer, has been tapped for the band’s vocals after he had found solo acclaim. As a youth, Koolant was dedicated to the music of classic greats such as Jacob Miller, Barrington Levy, and Bob Marley.

“I just naturally gravitate towards vintage music. I like how it’s the backbone of what’s happening now too, because those old classics never die,” said Koolant in a press release.

The Wailers are still one of the most renowned reggae acts in the world, but they keep their focus on the wholesomeness of the music. “Reggae is for all people, all ages, and all times – past, present, and future,” Mr. Barrett said in a press release. “It is the language of the people, and we were chosen for the mission of spreading the message of reggae music to the world.”

Mike Martin y Los Rootsticks will also perform. They have become a local favorite, having stayed on the Island for half the year since first arriving in 2004. They spend the rest of the year touring and back on Vieques, an island off the east coast of Puerto Rico. The band was a part of the successful civil disobedience movement that ended the U.S. Navy’s use of a large part of Vieques as a bombing range that had been in practice since 1941. They have headlined the Vieques Carnival for the last 10 years. Mr. Martin always seems to have a guitar in hand, in gigs or outside of them, and his passion for music is evident in his talented play.

Junior Toots, son of Toots Hibbert (of Toots and The Maytals) will also perform. He attended the daylong rehearsals of his father’s music, and developed a thirst to perform and a music talent all his own. His latest album, “A Little Bit of Love,” is an upful mix of positive, high tempo, conscious reggae. In Junior Toots’s music, the classics are reincarnated in a new package.

The Wailers in concert, Tuesday, Aug. 14, 8:30 pm, The Lampost, Oak Bluffs. Doors open at 8 pm. 21+. Tickets are $32 in advance; $40 day of show, available online at or in person at CornerFive on Circuit Avenue in Oak Bluffs.