Reggae superstars from the island nation of Jamaica are not only helping Kauai recover from recent floods by sharing their uplifting message but also by donating a portion of concert proceeds to support flood relief.
Three-time Grammy Award nominees The Wailing Souls perform at the Kauai Veterans Center in Lihue today as part of their Skankin’ on da’ Rock Reggae Dance Party 2018. Coming from a small island community, the musicians are familiar with residents supporting each other during hard times.
“You just have to think positive at all times and know that pretty soon everything will get back to normal,” said founding band member and vocalist Lloyd “Bread” McDonald. “Just do the best you can, you know what I mean, help each other as much as possible.”
“I know there are some people who’s gonna be needing more help than the others,” he added. “Just come together and think positively.”
The legendary group will be performing with seven band members, including original vocalists Winston “Pipe” Matthews and McDonald, who started singing when they were in high school growing up in Trench Town.
“There was a lot of music going on,” McDonald said. “It was just a natural thing for life when we finished playing sports during the day, which was cricket or soccer. We’d just congregate into some old kitchens that nobody uses. So we guys just kinda took it as a rehearsal room. Everybody would just jam like a great big choir.”
Vocally trained by Bob Marley and the Wailers’ teacher, Joe Higgs, they worked with legendary reggae producers including Coxson Dodd of Studio One, Henry “Junjo” Lawes, Channel One Studios, Delroy Wright, Lloyd “King” Jammys, as well as recording several early tunes at Marley’s Tuff Gong Studio.
“Most of our songs are a message of hope, a message of peace and love and unity, cause that’s what we are, and our songs reflect that,” McDonald said. “We send a positive message at all time to people who are oppressed especially, to let them know hope is always there as long as you have life.”
Fusing their positive lyrics with harmonies of Motown roots and dancehall reggae, The Wailing Souls were featured in the Disney film “Cool Runnings” in 1993, and the soundtrack album was an international hit with sales worldwide.
When asked how he got his nickname “Bread” while growing up in Trench Town, McDonald said: “Somebody would dare you to do so and so…. I used to just love to say ‘Oh, that’s a piece of bread. The name just stuck from that.’”
The Wailing Souls have been part of the Trench Town reggae scene for decades, recording in Jamaica since the ’60s. They have recorded with Grammy-winning reggae legend Toots Hibbert (of Toots &the Maytals fame), five-time Grammy-winner Ziggy Marley, reggae’s most prolific and long-lasting production team Sly &Robbie, multiple Grammy-winner Cedella Marley, Grammy-winner Burning Spear, legendary British band UB40 and Hasidic rapper Matisyahu.
“I would just like to let the people of Kauai know we are coming and bringing a really meaningful brand of music and positive energetic vibes, especially with the flood,” McDonald said. “People need a lot of hope and uplifting of the spirit.”
The all-ages Blues Bear Hawaii Production takes place at Kauai Veterans Center with special guest Royal Lineage Sound with DJ Scott Benjamin and Willy Judah Burning Bush Reggae Band.
Doors open at KVC at 6 p.m., and the show begins at 7:30 p.m. General admission is $45, VIP-section table seating is $65. Ticket outlets include Kapaa’s Kauai Music &Sound, Hanalei Music &Strings, Lihue’s Scotty’s Music, Koloa’s Progressive Expressions, and Hanapepe’s Bad Hats and Jacqueline On Kauai.
Info: (808) 896-4845, www.bluesbearhawaii.com