50 years of 'Rockas'

Observer senior writer

Thursday, September 20, 2018

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Breaking new ground has long been an Inner Circle mantra in terms of touring.

It was no different when management booked dates for the band's Rockas 50th Anniversary World Tour which ended early this month.

The six-piece unit did 46 shows (including 36 festivals) in Europe, Lebanon and Morocco, starting June 13 in Amberg, Germany. The tour closed September 3 in Rotterdam, The Netherlands.

They also performed in the United Kingdom, Cyprus, Slovenia, Macedonia, Morocco, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Czech Republic, Belgium, Italy, France, Austria, Portugal, Estonia, Latvia, Romania, Greece, Ukraine, Lebanon, Croatia, Poland and Ireland.

It was Inner Circle's first time playing in Cyprus, Macedonia, Morocco, Serbia and Ukraine.

Drummer Lancelot Hall told the Jamaica Observer that after 50 years, conquering virgin territory is one of the band's priorities.

“We have been adding new territories every year. Inner Circle have always been reggae road warriors, there was a period of four years when we toured 300 days a year,” he said.

Montego Bay-born Hall, who joined the band over 25 years ago, said for the rest of 2018, they have spot dates tentatively scheduled for Brazil and the United States.

Inner Circle are led by brothers Roger (rhythm guitar) and Ian Lewis (bass) who formed it as a seven-piece unit in 1968, shortly after leaving Jamaica College.

Stalwart member and keyboardist Bernard “Touter” Harvey, guitarist Ronnie Gutierrez and singer Trevor “Skatta” Bonnick are also members of the current line-up.

Like many acts who thrived during the 1970s roots-reggae/Rockers period, Inner Circle are among the best touring acts in reggae.

Jimmy Cliff, Third World, Toots and The Maytals, The Mighty Diamonds, Lee “Scratch” Perry, Israel Vibration, are as busy, or busier, than many of their younger counterparts.

Even with classic 1970s songs like Tenement Yard, Standing Firm and Peace Treaty, and 1990s pop standards Bad Boys and Sweat, Hall stressed the importance of road work.

“It's been a building process as I mentioned before. Each year with the constant touring the market builds,” he said.

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