TVD Live: The Wailers at the 9:30 Club, 5/29

PHOTOS: ERIKA HORN | On a clear night in late May, the vibe within DC’s 9:30 Club motioned like a Caribbean cruise. The Wailers channelled the spirits of late originators Bob Marley and Peter Tosh with selections from Confrontation, Catch a Fire, Natty Dread and Exodus.

The group, officially led by bassist Aston “Family Man” Barrett, shepherded timeless roots reggae to a crowd that undulated in perpetuity. The lead vocalist Dwayne Anglin channeled the playful energy of Marley with a slightly accelerated version of “Stir it Up.”

Cegee Victory, the backing-vocalist, lent her powerful mezzo-soprano to the dreamy echos of the classic single. Meanwhile, Barrett and Audley Chisholm kept the flow with tightrope bass lines and a galloping skank rhythm.

The Wailers played to a racially mixed crowd of hippies, hipsters, transients, transplants, and DMV natives. The spirit of Jah converged all colors into one, not unlike at a festival such as Reggae on the River. The 9:30 club-goers were spellbound by the music.

They got the crowd a-movin’ in a consistent upbeat-downbeat motion with a playlist that included standards “Buffalo Soldier” and “Waiting in Vain,” respectively.

The reggae band spread more love with even more words calling for solidarity of human love; it was an apropos intro to “One Love.” Then they galvanized the crowd once again with the thoughtful ballad “Redemption Song.” The latter song is as beaming, hopeful, socio-political tune as you’ll ever find – upbeat and jaunty, the entire crowd sang along.

A very special moment occurred when Junior Marvin made a guest appearance to lead the band to “Exodus.” Even from the most remote zone inside the house, you could see Marvin display his trademark finger-work on his guitar.

It goes without saying the Wailers created a movement to go along with their three-decade-long body of work. They were the opening act for Rusted Root. The Pittsburgh-bred roots band changed the gears some with some elements of hard and folk rock, plus a little bit of calypso (as to carry on with the musical theme of the previous act).

Both the Wailer and Rusted Root together made it an evening to remember: no digital sounds, just homespun music of the proverbial old country. The night ultimately belonged to the Wailers. But the spirit of Jah was there from beginning to end.

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