So, The Original Wailers aren’t really the “original” Wailers. This version of “The Wailers” features Al Anderson (more about that below). You may recall that we went to see “The Wailers” a few weeks ago at The Ardmore Music Hall. That version of “The Wailers” features Junior Marvin and Aston “Family Man” Barrett. You can read more about that show here:
Even though this version wasn’t the “original”, it’s always a good time to go out and see some live reggae music. Keep reading to find out more!
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THE VENUE – TLA PHILADELPHIA
The Theater of the Living Arts (aka the TLA), is located on South Street in Philadelphia. The venue as it is today opened in 1988, but the building dates back to the 1900’s as a nickelodeon.
The first incarnation of the location was 1908, when it was known as The Crystal Palace, which was a 700-seat nickelodeon. It went through several iterations between theater, movie theater and concert hall over the years. In March of 1981, Stephen Starr purchased the building with the intention of moving his nightclub to a larger location. However, the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board and the neighborhood put a stop to that, and he utilized the space as a cinema instead.
In 1981, a group of former employees (later becoming the TLA Entertainment Group) purchased the building. Again, the venue had several different uses until 1988, when it was converted to a concert venue. Live Nation purchased the venue in 2007, and has operated it ever since.
The venue is all general admission and has a capacity of 1,000 people. There is a main floor location, as well as an upstairs balcony.
For those of you familiar with Philadelphia, you know that South Street is home to an eclectic group of restaurants, bars and patrons. As such, the TLA tends to host up and coming bands that are not as main stream. It’s also a great place to see more famous acts in a small setting.
The building is old and has its issues. The lobby is small, as well as the bathrooms. The entire venue could probably use an update, although that is what contributes a bit to its charm.
Tip #1: The bathrooms are small and old! Plan bathroom breaks accordingly during the show.
Tip #2: We’ve been to a couple of shows where the venue has been a bit off about entry. Their social media and tickets will state a time that doors open, and they end up opening much later, leaving people lined up outside down South Street. They do have a “fast pass” ticket upgrade you can pay for and avoid the line to get in.
Tip #3: If I don’t care about being upfront for the show, I find that a good place to stand is on the ramp leading onto the main floor. You are right next to the sound board (which is a great spot if you are looking to snag a set list). It’s accessible to the bathrooms, lobby, and bar. It’s also typically less crowded.
On this particular night, the show was not sold out. In fact, the place was mostly empty when the opening act started. It was only about half full by the time The Original Wailers took the stage. So, we were able to stand further down on the floor and not have to fight for position.
Tip #4: There are lots of food choices on South Street to grab a bite before the show. My favorite is Brauhaus Schmitz, which not only has a great selection of German beer, but amazing food as well.
Tip #5: Try and grab parking in the street. However, be sure you follow the signs. You have to pay the meter until 12 a.m., so either be sure to time your meter right, or be willing to run out and feed the meter during the show.
Born Ian Allan Young, E.N Young was born in San Diego, CA. He began playing the piano at age 6, which started his love of music. At age 12, Young broke his arm. The doctor recommended physical activity to help with the recovery, so his father bought him a drum set, which led to a love and passion for the drums as well.
Young started his professional career as a member of the band Stranger. They put out four studio albums. In 2010, Young started pursuing a solo career and released his debut album “Luck & Chance No More”.
In 2011, Young went into the studio with Tribal Seeds to produce their EP. He went on tour with the band as the opening act. A year later, he officially joined the band as their keyboard player and vocalist.
Today, Young is not only a performer, but a writer and producer of reggae music. In 2013, he opened his own recording studio – Imperial Sound Recording Studio – in San Diego.
Young took the stage at 8:30 p.m. Unfortunately, the room was pretty empty. However, that didn’t bother Young. He still put on a full energy show. With a small projector screen showing video to accompany the music, Young alternated between his keyboards, a melodica, and even bongos.
When introducing the song Eye of the DuB, he spoke about finding the peace inside of you. He spoke about how he and his band had traveled over 4,000 miles across the U.S. touring in support of The Original Wailers, and what a great time it had been.
Young wrapped up his set at 9:17 p.m. He thanked the crowd for their support. Young is currently on tour in support of The Original Wailers. You can follow him on Facebook to stay up to date on future shows.
THE ORIGINAL WAILERS
As I mentioned above, The Original Wailers don’t actually have any members of the “original” Wailers in the band. I know, it’s confusing! In fact, there are more “original” Wailers (as in Bob Marley & The Wailers) in the version of the band that was saw a few weeks ago.
This version of The Original Wailers was formed by Al Anderson and Marvin Junior in 2008. Junior departed the group in 2011. Current members of the band include Chet Samuel (lead vocals/guitar), Al Anderson (guitar), Omar Lopez (bass guitar),Chris Crowder (drums) and Adrian “AK” Cisneros (keyboards/organ).
In 1974 when Bob Marley was on the brink of becoming an international star, he surprised the reggae community by bringing Anderson – who was American born – as his lead guitarist. Anderson went on to be an integral part of Bob Marley & The Wailers, including playing on the iconic album “Legend”.
The Original Wailers received a Grammy nomination in 2013 for their album “Miracle”.
While the band might not have consisted of any original Wailers, they cranked through all of the Bob Marley hits that you wanted to hear. Taking the stage at 9:45 pm, they opened with “I Shot The Sherriff” and “Stir It Up” to get the party going.
They continued to play through the biggest hits in the Bob Marley catalog. If I had to put my finger on two things that didn’t make this version of the Wailers as good as the version I saw a few weeks ago, it was the lead singer and the lack of back-up singers. The lead singer was talented, but he didn’t sound anything like Bob Marley. Having a lead singer that sounds like Marley really makes you feel like you are seeing the original band. This version didn’t have any female back-up singers either, which I think adds a lot to the music.
Towards the end of the set, Anderson announced that they would take requests. I’m not sure if it was really spontaneous, but after some shout outs of different songs from the crowd, the band went into “Jammin”. The song also featured bass player Omar Lopez, who had some fun with the crowd by getting them to clap and sing along.
After “Jammin”, the band just sort of walked off stage without any fan fare, which was a bit bizarre. After a minute or so, Al Anderson walked on stage by himself, and went into an amazing guitar solo. As the rest of the band returned to the stage, the solo turned into one of my personal favorites – “Redemption Song”. The show wrapped up with “Exodus” at 11:30 p.m.
The Original Wailers have a packed tour schedule, with lots of dates across the U.S. as well as dates in Australia and New Zealand planned. You can get more information on their website at https://www.theoriginalwailers.com/.
Here is The Original Wailers’ set list from the show. Click on any of the songs to download them digitally through Amazon as well, although note that these are links to the original Bob Marley versions of the songs.
Have questions about seeing a show at the TLA? Want to know more about E.N Young or The Original Wailers? Comment below or e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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