Who would have ever thought that a conversation one
afternoon in an internet music discussion room would lead to a performance with
the Original Wailers?
Not I, that's for sure. Yet that's exactly how it happened.
One Thursday afternoon, I was enjoying some good vibes
blasting through the UK Reggae Guide internet radio station. You can check them
out here. I usually spend Thursday afternoons listening to DJ
Idread, who also hosts a discussion chat using MSN Messenger at the same time.
This chat room usually consists of musical artists, producers, promoters, and
others who may have some affiliation with UK Reggae Guide.
This afternoon, I saw a new person come through that others in the group seemed to recognize. Someone asked if this person was still doing work with the Wailers. Just so
happens, the Original Wailers were scheduled to perform at one of my favorite
local venues the very next week. So I felt this was something good to contribute to
Come to find out, the new person I was
talking to was the current keyboard/organ player for the Original Wailers and
current tour manager of this particular US run, Christian.
Of course, the internet is full of chatty mouth people, so I
didn't believe him at first, but a confirmation on his MySpace page was enough
to convince me. In a highly gracious gesture, he invited me out to the local
show as his guest, and arranged to have me and my Empress Desiree' attend
the sound check as well.
We ditched work early that day and headed out to the venue.
After some quick route assistance (guiding them in via cell phone), the Wailers pulled up to the venue at last.
Here I was able to meet everyone individually which was simply an honor in
itself. The Wailers, obviously known for their work with the great Bob Marley,
are an inspiration to reggae musicians worldwide. I am one of those musicians.
We were blessed with the chance to spend some time with
Christian and a few others before the show. Of course, the show was great.
Performing a varied array of Wailers tracks, old and brand new, the crowd never
stopped moving the entire night. From backstage, I could see the faces of the kids in the front
row looking up at The Wailers on stage, and this was an inspiring vision to
behold. It's something that I strive to achieve at every stage show myself.
After the show, I had the great opportunity to spend time with Junior
Marvin, Al Anderson, Erica Newell, and the remaining Wailers. Everyone
was very inviting and kind with us, which is a little more than I expected,
because I'm sure they have people like me come around all the time. We talked
about music, I listened to some stories from the past, and I was also able to
provide a few copies of my debut album, Grass Roots, and the new GRASS DUBS album to Junior Marvin. He
then distributed them to the other band members. It was a humbling experience;
to see people you look up to, getting excited about your works.
Through our discussions, we found out that I would be
performing on the same night as one of their upcoming shows, but over 200 miles away. I was currently
booked at a Cocoa Beach venue on Sundays, and the Wailers were performing in
Miami on Sunday March 22nd as well. In looking back on it all, Cocoa
Beach is really nowhere near Miami. But
when Junior asked if I would be interested in linking up with them in Miami and
possibly performing a tune with them
on stage, no distance was too far to travel. I was committed to being there.
We left Cocoa Beach a little late, so we were now in a race against time
to get from Cocoa to Miami by 9:30 pm. That was the start of the Wailers' set, and I
was sure that if I wasn’t able to link them before they started playing, I
would surely miss my chance to perform. We thankfully own a “spaceship” so we made
it to the venue, parked, and checked in about 5 minutes till 9:30.
Most of the band was already on stage, setting things up and
making sure all was well tuned. I was able to flag Christian down and he met me
on the side of the stage. “So what tune would you like to get up for?” he asks.
I reply, “Perhaps one of the more up-beat tracks?” “Like Jammin’, or Exodus?”
“PERFECT,” I say… I had actually thought to myself, If I could perform on any
two tracks, it would be those two. He said he’d talk to Junior, but to hang
close to the stage in case I do get called up.
As advised, I stayed pretty close to the stage. About 10
steps from the stage stairs to be exact. This was one of the biggest moments of
my life, and if it was going to go down, I wanted to make sure I was ready to
go at first call.
The set seemed to last longer than usual. Songs were
stretched in my head and it seemed like I had been standing in the same spot
forever. Again looking back, I was probably on adrenaline overload thus
throwing the space time continuum out of whack and… sorry. Yeah, I was pretty
excited. And then Jammin’ started.
It still wasn’t “officially” confirmed whether or not I
would be performing. It was up to Junior Marvin to call me up, but I was still
just happy to be at the show. Then, it happened. The first couple verses had
been completed, and Al Anderson had just performed an amazing guitar solo. Junior
Marvin then stepped back up to the mic, and the rest I will never forget.
“We’d like to bring up on stage, a good friend of ours.
Badda Skat!! Where are yah Badda! Badda!”
Like the start of the hundred meter dash, I was up on that
stage QUICK! (Keep in mind, I’m only able to recall these next parts because
they have been documented on video. It’s really a blur in my head, but visual
confirmation that it all really did happen is what I use as my affirmation of
these events. Check the video for yourself HERE.) I
stepped through the pedal board of Al Anderson, next to the keyboard of “Jawge”
the current keys man, and up to Junior Marvin’s microphone. I’m glad I didn’t
This position was once held by the great Bob Marley. I felt
like I was watching a movie experience of what it would be like to perform with
the legendary Wailers. It was far more surreal than I can describe with words,
and everything seemed to be back in slow motion mode. I laid down a couple
verses over the Jammin’ riddim and graciously stepped back from the mic. Junior
then called to the crowd, asking if they wanted more. Fueled by their reaction,
Junior grabs me and pushes me back up to the microphone again. A few verses
later, I again stepped away from the mic, looked out onto the crowd before me,
the faces of the people, the Miami skyline. I took a deep breath, and exited
After the set, I again was able to link up with the rest of
the Wailers and chat for a bit. This was the last show of this current US run,
so everyone was pretty tired. There were also flights to catch by some of the
members, so a few people had to take off rather quickly after the show. Junior
and I were able to discuss some things for the future, and really only Jah
knows, but the future holds the possibility for more Badda Skat and
This is definitely an experience I will never forget. It’s
really amazing how things work out sometimes, and I can only thank Jah for the
way they do. Rastafari.