The Original Wailers play classic and new songs

Graham C Wheat, Reporter

The roots reggae sounds of The Original Wailers took over the small stage at local eatery and bar Narducci’s on Nov. 20, belting out the message of One Love to approximately 75 fans of the Jamaican born music.

Legendary guitar player Al Anderson, who has been a part of many seminal reggae albums and tours, fronts The Original Wailers.  His list of reggae credentials reads like a laundry list, including creative time spent with Black Uhuru, Peter Tosh and UB40. Not to mention the live guitar player for Bob Marley through five worldwide tours.

Since 2008 he has been the face of TOW, although he is the only “original wailer,” he and the group are committed to making positive music. Anderson feels that the message of TOW’s music is more important now than ever.

“That One Love. It is the same message that it has always been. I think that message is more relevant now than ever,” said Anderson. “The world has gotten more violent, we are interested in keeping peace in the world, and music is one of the only things that soothes that savage beast.”

That message was heard and well received by the grooving crowd. “The man is a legend. His guitar playing was awesome,” said David Cruz, a house painter from Arvin. “I love that they are continuing to play the jams we know from Marley, keeping that message alive. But TOW’s new stuff has that same feeling.”

“There is a lot of love for the fans,” said Anderson. “They are keeping us alive. We have to pay attention to them, that’s the most important thing. Paying attention to the people that are keeping us going.” Those fans got the attention Anderson spoke of, with many CDs being signed and hugs exchanged with grinning reggae lovers after the show concluded.

Anderson and some serious reggae pedigrees create the music that soothes that beast. Among the band mates, bass player Stephen “Big Yard” Samuels and keyboard player and vocalist Desi Hyson have as much background as the bandleader.  Samuels and Hyson both played with Joseph Hill of Culture for numerous years and now lend their expertise for TOW’s new album “Miracle.” Hyson wrote a majority of the tracks while Anderson produced them.

Hyson elaborated on the track “Blackbird,” saying it was a tribute to his friend Joseph Hill.

“I am glad to see people receptive to our new music,” said Hyson.

Samuels was pleased to see the crowd that gathered on Nov. 20.

“I have seen more smiles than screw faces since we have been here,” said Samuels on coming to California and Bakersfield. “When we were driving here, seeing the cows and trees reminded me of Jamaica. We might be long way from home, but it is nice see something familiar.”