Don’t ever tell Adwela Dawes, frontman for the seven-piece reggae outfit Adwela & the Uprising, that Virginia, where he and his band are based, is an unlikely home for a reggae band.
“Virginia is actually one of the biggest hubs for reggae on the East Coast,” says Dawes, 33, on the phone from his Fredericksburg home base. Dawes is also quick to tell you that Virginia is home to the Chesapeake Bay Reggae Fest. “We put on, I think, the biggest reggae festival on the East Coast, outside of (the 9 Mile Music Festival in Miami). It’s a pretty big deal. We bring in local acts and international acts as well. So, the scene is bigger than what people think it is. There are a lot of bands – like maybe 20, 30 bands – around here.”
It does help that Dawes spent his younger years in Jamaica, becoming well-versed in all the island rhythms.
“My father is born and raised there, so I’ve been going back-and-forth there my whole life,” he says. “My father’s whole side of the family is from there.” Dawes also has been surrounded himself with people who have Jamaican roots. “Most of our band is from Jamaica, so it was pretty easy to get the sound once we got together.”
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While this current lineup of the Uprising has been performing for a little over a year, Dawes has been keeping the group up and running for three-and-a-half years.
“We were born in a local talent show and I was just kind of there to be in it,” he says. The band got a good reaction from the crowd, prompting Dawes to see if he could turn the Uprising into a full-fledged thing. “I knew some people around and threw some hodgepodge groups together and we went and performed. I thought that was gonna be the end of it, and people kept calling. So, I kept playing.”
Adwela and the Uprising does play reggae that sounds like a throwback to the roots-reggae such icons as Bob Marley and Peter Tosh made popular back in the ’70s.
“Like with any music, I think roots are the foundation of music and it’s important and it needs to be kept alive and there needs to be a new wave in innovators, of those who keep roots alive,” he says. “There’s nothing we’re reinventing. There’s nothing we’re really doing. We have a unique sound, just because we’re unique people. … We’re just writing our chapter in the book, if that makes sense.”
The band is currently making sure they have a lot of good stuff to fill in their chapter: they’ve been touring all over the country (they’ll make a stop at the Pour House in Raleigh on Wednesday) and are preparing to release their debut album, “Road Less Traveled,” in February. At the moment, you can get two of the band’s singles, “Irie” and “Warrior,” on iTunes.
“We’re excited to release our first project,” Dawes says. “The people have evolved and the work has evolved and we got big enough to where the (distributors) have come around now and we can adequately represent ourselves with the product.”
It looks like Adwela & the Uprising is ready to show everyone that Virginia is also for reggae lovers.
Who: Adwela & the Uprising
When: 9 p.m. Wednesday
Where: The Pour House Music Hall, 224 S. Blount St., Raleigh
Info: 919-821-1120 or thepourhousemusichall.com