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SoFla Flow: Local Reggae Bands Join Inner Circle's New "Reggae Wave" Movement

SoFla Flow pays tribute to South Florida's wonderful jam-band, reggae, and related activity -- both the homegrown, heady, local stuff and national acts passing through.

​One year ago, the legendary reggae group Inner Circle, alongside local promoter and scene elder Lance-O of Kulcha Shok, called on the area's most energized reggae bands to gather at Circle Village in Miami. That's Inner Circle's headquarters and recording studio (Circle House Studios), and the plan was to share with the bands their recent inspiration and invite them to join together to begin work on a project called Reggae Wave.

Tomorrow night, Reggae Wave makes its global debut in front of an international crowd in Orlando as a handful of the bands represent at Lance-O's annual Surf Expo satellite party.

Reggae Wave could be described as a movement to facilitate the heartfelt, creative endeavors of contemporary reggae bands so that their collective work may have the greatest possible influence on our world. Inner Circle's role is to provide the infrastructure necessary to create high-quality content, the funding and connections needed to push it out into the world, and the myriad intangibles gained from decades on the reggae path needed to make this all happen effectively.

Phase one of the project is a compilation CD that will feature two tracks each from eight local bands: Fourth Dimension, JahFe, Mixed Culture, Resolvers, Roots Shakedown, Skafyah, Spred the Dub, and Stampede Movement, as well as a group rendition of "This Is Reggae Music," the Zap Pow hit from the mid-'70s. Between 5,000 and 10,000 copies of the album will be released this spring for free distribution. Beyond that, the collective envisions a tour as soon as this coming summer.

The movement's internet presence is already well-established. On the Reggae Wave's official site, on Facebook and Twitter, and in more than a dozen episodes of Reggae Wave TV on YouTube, the bands and the group concept are presented in a highly palatable and sharable way.

The impetus behind this movement, says Lance-O, is the desire to "cultivate reggae music of today in the form of bands." For the past 25 years, he said, bands have been struggling as the genre has been dominated by industry-manufactured arrangements involving a featured vocalist backed by studio musicians. "Now it's back to the band thing, and Inner Circle got behind it to help cultivate the next generation," he says.

And some very exciting and cutting-edge members of the new generation are right here in South Florida. The past couple of years have seen the steady growth of a supportive, compassionate, highly energized reggae community made up of the aforementioned bands as well as other bands and a healthy and steadily increasing number of fans and contributors of various sorts all sharing in the organic process.

"This is not a band competition," said Inner Circle's Ian Lewis one year ago. "This is not American Idol." What this is, it seems, is a highly inspired and well-equipped group of reggae lovers set to make waves in South Florida and well beyond. More attention will certainly be given to this bunch in coming weeks -- certainly ahead of the South Florida premiere of Reggae Wave at the Adrienne Arsht Center in Miami on February 24. For now, let's wish them the best as the Wave rolls toward the Surf Expo.

Here is a video clip of that fateful gathering at Circle Village one year ago:

Inner Circle presents Reggae Wave hosted by Lance-O. With Mixed Culture, Spred the Dub, and Fourth Dimension. 7 p.m. Friday, January 13, at Backstage, 9700 International Drive, Orlando. Admission is free. Click here.

Reggae Jam: Third World and Inner Circle. With Fourth Dimension, JahFe, Mixed Culture, Resolvers, Roots Shakedown, Skafyah, Spred the Dub, and Stampede Movement. 8 p.m. Friday, February 24, at Adrienne Arsht Center, 1300 N Biscayne Blvd., Miami. Tickets cost $25 to $40. Click here.

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Travis Newbill