COURTESY GOOD VIBEZ ENTERTAINMENT
"It's always good to know that the reggae family group just keeps growing. It's also good to know that I'm here to give whatever of me that I can give in this constant growth of reggae music. I'm proud that I'm still here and that I'm strong enough to deliver the message that people would expect from the surviving Wailer." --Bunny Wailer,
The last Wailer
Reggae artist Bunny Wailer will headline the 2007 Kolohe Festival
IT TOOK Bunny Wailer more than three decades to make his Hawaii debut. This weekend, the surviving member of the Wailers returns to Oahu, just 2 1/2 years after performing at the Waikiki Shell. He'll headline the 2007 Kolohe Festival with Steel Pulse and Midnite on Friday and Saturday at Hawaiian Waters Adventure Park.
2007 Kolohe Festival
On stage: 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday
Place: Hawaiian Waters Adventure Park
Tickets: $30; $45 for both nights
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The Star-Bulletin caught up with Wailer last week in Southern California, where he was on tour.
Question: You were just here in 2004. Do you have any thoughts on that experience?
Answer: It was the first time there, and it was good. The people of Hawaii seem to be very turned on to reggae music. It was really interesting.
Q: Did you have a chance to listen to any local reggae bands? What do you think of Hawaii artists using fake Jamaican accents when they perform?
A: I listen briefly, but not a lot because I was on the move. (The accent) all depends on how the individual feels about it.
Somehow, Jamaica's language is a little different. ... All we have to do is realize that with reggae, everyone is going to be interested in what comes out of Jamaica. That's why Americans are trying to imitate Jamaicans talking.
Q: Last year, you performed in Las Vegas alongside Ziggy and Stephen Marley. Then earlier this year, you played at Smile Jamaica with Julian, Ky-Mani, Damian and Stephen Marley. What was it like sharing the stage with the offspring of one of your oldest friends?
A: Well, you know, Bob isn't here. Someone has to be here for these youths to give them the direction that is necessary as they mature into this music.
It's good to know that I'm still here, as their uncle, to be here for them and make sure they're going in the right direction ... and also to be supportive in the areas of their development, musically and otherwise.
It's a duty and a responsibility as it's a privilege, so I gotta make sure I do the right thing about it.
Q: Does it ever bother you that Bob Marley continues to be a driving force in reggae music, while your own work might not receive all the attention it rightfully deserves?
A: See, it's not my music. It's Rastafari's music. And Rastafari inspire whoever is in his power and his will to do so. So if I'm here, it's because of the will of the most high.
It's like watering a tree that's already been planted. If it's been planted where it can mature into bearing fruit, then it's good to know you're watering such a tree. ...
We know that it's an appreciated thing when we see trees grow. ... That's where we get the seeds to grow the next generation.
Q: When you started your career in the 70's, a lot of musical influence came from America. Now it seems as if America is looking toward Jamaica for influence.
A: Back then, we had to be taking in the music that came from the U.K. and the United States. They made a difference in our time, when we didn't have a music of our own. It enhanced us in putting together our own music.
The reggae music is related to so many other musics of the world. It's attracted the other cultures and the artists where we see a lot of people are turned on to reggae. It's going further than we ever expected.
From Peter (Tosh), we see Andrew Tosh. From Bob Marley, we see all his sons coming from his genes. And from Bunny Wailer, I've got my daughter coming soon, Cen-C Wailer.
Q: Your daughter is planning to release an album?
A: Yes, called "Contagious."
Q: Don't you have a new album, "Cross Culture," due out soon?
A: That's one of three albums, actually. "Cross Culture" is dealing with trying to go over into the other music cultures, to let it be seen and be known that we're familiar with (them).
And then there's one called "Unite." I want to see if I can bring especially the Jamaican people together in a unified fashion based on the problems that we have in the political sense of things.
And then there's one called "Rub-A-Dub," which is the dancehall situation. I want to try to make sure I give some direction to the dancehall, as now the dancehall has been somewhat revolutionized into where people are not dancing with partners anymore.
They're all finished. But I've not actually been dealing with the distributors as such. I'm trying to see if I can re-establish my catalog in a way that I'm in control.
Q: Do you still have issues with others making money off your earlier recordings?
A: Yeah, well ... somewhat. We've been on top of it, so it's becoming less and less of a problem. ... If (my album) is going to be distributed by any organization, then it's gotta be something that's totally in control by Solomonic Productions.
Q: Any last words for your fans in Hawaii?
A: It's always good to know that the reggae family group just keeps growing. It's also good to know that I'm here to give whatever of me that I can give in this constant growth of reggae music.
I'm proud that I'm still here and that I'm strong enough to deliver the message that people would expect from the surviving Wailer.