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In the world of reggae music, there seems to be a persistent cred check that induces every aspiring or established musician to detail his or her connection to Jamaica and the founding fathers of reggae: Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, Bunny Wailer, Burning Spear, Lee “Scratch” Perry, and the lot.

It makes sense, in a way – that’s where reggae music came from. Still, it can sometimes get tiresome, at least from the perspective of a newspaper reporter. Whenever I get a press release with page upon page of text in multiple fonts and sizes, bolds and italics, with biographical profiles that read more like a phone book, I don’t even have to read it to know: It’s a reggae band.

So it’s a testament to the name recognition enjoyed by the Wailers that their press release arrived in plain old Arial 12 point, and comprised a mere four paragraphs. These guys don’t need to trace the six degrees of separation between themselves and the roots of reggae: They are the roots of reggae.

But are they?

Anybody with a whiff of knowledge about reggae knows the legend of the Wailers, the early-’60s band that included Tosh, Marley, and Wailer. Those three would ultimately become the holy trinity of the Rastafarian music world, albeit known mostly for their later, solo work.

In the early ’70s, Marley split off from the band and formed Bob Marley and the Wailers. These new Wailers consisted of Junior Marvin and Al Anderson on guitars, Tyrone Downie and Earl Lindo on keyboards, Alvin Patterson on percussion, and brothers Carlton and Aston “Familyman” Barrett on drums and bass, respectively.

Marley eventually died, in 1981; Tosh died in 1987. Bunny Wailer – the man for whom the Wailers were named – is still living in Jamaica.

And the Wailers who are coming to the Wilma this week? Only one of the above is in the lineup: Familyman. (Ironically, a different band calling itself The Original Wailers has also been touring in recent years, featuring Marvin, Anderson, and Lindo.)

Does it really matter that this is essentially a tribute act? Not really, I suppose. With nary a new original recording released since 1995, there’s no worry that this band will veer off into unfamiliar territory.

It’s all good, bro. The Wailers will appear at the Wilma Theatre this Saturday, March 6, along with opening act Passafire. Tickets are $29.50, available at Griz Tix Outlets, Rockin Rudy’s Records, by phone at 888-MONTANA and online at


Jim Stoltz is still walking.

Way back in 1991, the Missoulian previewed a visit by Stoltz, noting that the Big Sky performer “is called ‘Walkin’ Jim’ because of the more than 17,000 miles he has walked through the wild country of North America. He’s written many of his songs along the way, and his lyrics express his love for the Earth and wild place. Known for his powerful baritone, his ‘Forever Wild’ slide show combines live music and poetry with multi-image slides to celebrate wilderness.”

Since then, Stoltz has added about 10,000 miles to the trails that have passed under his feet. He still calls his show “Forever Wild.” He’s still “known for his powerful baritone” and his lyrics still “express a great love and respect for the Earth,” according to his current press release.

Hey, if the shoes fit, wear ’em.

To be sure, there’s plenty to dazzle the senses in his program, which features images and songs from the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, his Yellowstone-to-Yukon walk, the Utah canyon country, the Northern Rockies, and elsewhere. He’ll bring all that to a program this Saturday, March 6, at the Stensrud Building, 314 N. First St. A social hour begins at 6 p.m.; the program starts at 7 p.m. The concert is free and open to the public. However, it’s a benefit for the Last Best Place Wildlands Campaign, so donations will be accepted.

Reporter Joe Nickell can be reached at 523-5358, or on

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