Coming into 2022, Oasis, the outdoor concert venue in Miami’s trendy and artistic Wynwood neighborhood, was certainly the place to be for reggae music lovers of all ages. Aptly named, Oasis is a picturesque archway decorated in florals that affords its patrons an outdoor setting offering a diverse blend of options, including a premium entertainment, cocktails, and dining experience. Fittingly, Oasis was the perfect setting for the 3rd staging of the Annual Reggae Jam Music Festival which, after a 2-year hiatus due to the pandemic, returned to Miami to much fanfare and excitement.
Presented by Dubwise Miami in tandem with Jason Panton—the multi-talented creative, designer, and culturalist hailing from Kingston, Jamaica—the January 2, 2022 episode of Reggae Jam was a top-echelon and much anticipated reggae music event that centered around Grammy winning and iconic juggernauts, Inner Circle and the Wailers’ Band. In fact, the festival was spearheaded by Inner Circle. Music Mogul, Abebe Lewis, the son of Inner Circle’s, Ian Lewis, was the event’s organizer and steward of its seemingly ubiquitous marketing campaign throughout the South Florida environs in the weeks leading up to the show.
The 3rd annual Reggae Jam Festival in Miami was nothing short of an epic day and night of festivities. Centered around Inner Circle’s now 53rd anniversary in reggae music, the iconic band was definitely in good company as they celebrated such a momentous occasion and impressive milestone in terms of longevity in the business alongside Bob Marley’s legendary Wailers band.
As it happened, the Reggae Jam concert itself got off to a lively start in the early evening courtesy of the newcomer roots rock reggae artist, Prince Judah, whose set included a lot of conscious vibes, lyrics and bass-heavy riddims. Reggae Jam attendees were certainly entertained by Prince Judah who interacted with them well.
Hopping onto the stage after Prince Judah, was Jemere Morgan, grandson of reggae legend, Denroy Morgan, and son of Morgan Heritage band member—Gramps Morgan. Indeed, music runs deep in the Morgan Heritage family. In 1981, Denroy Morgan found success with the release of his ‘I’ll Do Anything for You’ album and title track single by the same name when the title track became a big R&B and dance clubhit. Denroy’s ‘I’ll Do Anything for You’ track was a colossal song hit that seemingly permeated radio and club airwaves in both the United States and across the globe. Jemere Morgan’s music is definitely multi-dimesional in that it blends R&B, hip-hop, and pop influences into his own flavor of reggae music. In 2013, his ‘Neighborhood Girl’ song hit served as a breakthrough for him—which helped expand his fanbase and audience to international level. Jemere’s set at Reggae Jam 2022 was superb in many respects—especially in showing his stage command and artistic growth over the years.
Reggae Jam 2022’s headliner, Inner Circle, hit the stage next to a loud round of applause from the sea of attendees. Years back at Reggae Jam 2019, Inner Circle celebrated their 50th anniversary in reggae music. Not only that, it is noteworthy that Inner Circle were also awarded the Order of Distinction in the 2019 National Honors and Awards in Jamaica. Inner Circle are globally known for their infectious ‘Badboys’ anthem, ‘What You Gonna Do’, which served as the theme song to the American TV show, Cops. Reggae Jam Festival goers were surely stoked when Inner Circle performed yet another of one of their smash hits – ‘Sweat.’
The Wailers’ Band then closed the night in fine style, and got things started with the thumping basslines and rich sounds of reggae music. Founded in the early 1970’s by bassist Aston ‘Family man’ Barrett, and joined by guitarist, Donald Kinsey, the iconic Wailers band most notably recorded, performed, and toured the globe alongside the ‘King of Reggae’—Bob Marley. The unmistakable spiritual vibe of Bob was certainly palpable as Wailers’ lead singer, Mitchell Brunings, and a pair of harmony singers, smoothly served up to the captivated audience their rendition of many of Bob Marley and the Wailers’ most unforgettable songs. The canopy of a clear Miami night sky was the perfect setting for the delivery of the Bob’s endearing message of love for Jah Rastafari, Rastafarianism, and peace and unity throughout the world.
All photos by Nick Ford, who lives and works in South Florida.