Wednesday, September 19

9th Annual California Roots Festival Lights Up the Monterey Fairgrounds

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California Roots Festival
Monterey Fairgrounds
May 25-27, 2018

Photos by Pollen Heath.

Justin Dahl wrote this review with contributions from Pollen Heath.

The Monterey Fairgrounds played host to the 9th Annual California Roots Festival over Memorial Day weekend, featuring a wide variety of incredible music, art, specialty apparel vendors, healthy global cuisine, a few carnival fair type food choices, free water refill stations, traditional band merchandise, and craft beers.

Chronixx

Chronixx

2018’s festival was indicative of the recent recreational legalization of cannabis, as major cannabis sponsors were front and center. Patrons and artists at this year’s festival alike celebrated the repeal of cannabis prohibition, NorCal style!

Dispatch

Dispatch

 

Music, however, is always center stage to the Cali Roots production. This year’s lineup was a phenomenal mix of roots, alternative rock, dancehall, and reggae rock.

E-40

E-40

The 9th annual festival featured music from 311, Rebelution, Iration, Stephen Marley, The Original Wailers, Hirie, Chronixx, Slightly Stoopid, Steel Pulse, Dispatch, and Tribal Seeds. Rapper E-40 charmed the audience with his OG hip-hop, adding a bit of spice to an already stellar line up. In the past nine years, acts such as Damian Marley, Cypress Hill, Fishbone, Protoje, Dirty Heads, Matisyahu, Nas, Pepper, Soja, and Ziggy Marley have carried the ‘roots’ torch as well.

Hirie

Hirie

This year’s journey began with campsite set up at Laguna Seca. The staff and neighboring Cali Roots campers were super considerate, and the whole weekend was off to an uplifting and incredibly positive experience. Complete with campfire coffee and cast-iron potatoes.

Iration

Iration

Weather on the first two days was overcast and festival-goers staying at Laguna Seca were treated to a refreshing and calming rain overnight. By Sunday morning, the sun was up, skies were clear and the true festival vibe was in full swing.

JBoog

JBoog

Friday’s lineup was exceptionally diverse and featured the likes of Hawaiian siren Hirie, Jamaican reggae revolutionary Chronixx, Steel Pulse, E-40, and Iration among many others. E-40 and Hirie stealing their respective stages early on.

Rebelution

Rebelution

E-40 put the hip in hop with a set full of old school tunes, taking it all the way to 1995. He had everyone jumping and singing along to a slew of his tunes in addition to Dre’s “Next Episode” and Luniz’ “Five On It.”

Steel Pulse

Steel Pulse

Hirie’s beautiful island voice reached out and grabbed her audience by the heart, filling each with genuine affection. At one point during her set, Hirie sat on the ledge of the Bowl stage and in response to a fan in the front row screaming “I love you,” she smiled and responded “I love you, too!”

Stephen Marley

Stephen Marley

The schedule for Saturday warmed things up a little with Fortunate Youth, Trevor Hall, Stephen Marley, Dispatch, JBoog, and Rebelution.  8-12 feet joints fashioned by RAW brand rolling papers were bounced around during Fortunate Youth’s set at the Bowl stage. Add several blown-up bananas and beach balls, and you have one of the biggest party vibes all weekend!

Trevor Hall

Trevor Hall

Over at the Cali Roots stage, Trevor Hall’s voice crooned in intentional folk-alternative style with roots flair, featuring hits like “Lime Tree” and “Green Mountain State.”

311

311

Without a doubt one of the best performances on Saturday was Stephen Marley, who brought the strikingly deep infectious voice of his father to the stage and sang with conviction about love and unity.

Slightly Stoopid

Slightly Stoopid

Indie band Dispatch was a great surprise. This band had strong song writing and an engaging stage performance.

The Green

The Green

JBoog and crew were terrific as always. Bringing beautiful love songs with a reggae, R&B tip to the Cali Roots stage.

The Original Wailers

The Original Wailers

Saturday’s headliner Rebelution brought a gorgeous laser light show to theBowl stage, and their dancehall tunes. Eric Rachman crooned his easy going, but infectious vocals to layers of impressive rock-reggae.

Tribal Seeds

Tribal Seeds

Swinging into the biggest day of the festival, Sunday’s agenda consisted of The Original Wailers, The Green, Tribal Seeds, and 311.

Young Fan

Young Fan

Although guitarist Al Anderson is the only remaining Wailer in this version of the band, it’s clear that only the most talented musicians will do to carry on the legacy. The Original Wailers brought original favorite “No Woman No Cry,” and played some of their new songs off of their more recent album, Miracle.

Giant Blunt

Giant Blunt

Oahu’s The Green gave an incredible and uplifting performance centered primarily on their newest album, Marching Orders. Upon release in 2017, this album debut on the Billboard Reggae chart at number 1, garnered praise from media globally.

A Green Exhibit

A Green Exhibit

Regularly scheduled at Cali Roots, and flying high off their latest release Gunsmoke (featuring Protoje), Tribal Roots swept onto the Cali Roots stage and played an incredible set to an audience waiting to dance.

Friends

Reunited: Father and Sons

Alternative rock icons 311 put on a fantastic headlining set for the weekend featuring their hits; “Beautiful Disaster,” “Amber,” “Come Original,” “Love Song,” and “Down.” 311 set the crowd afire with a phenomenal drum solo during their song “Applied Science.” Drummer Chad Sexton began a rather unusual drum solo which started on his electronic drum pad, progressed to a myriad of snare and bass drum action and ended with each member of 311 drumming on their own small snare set up. Complete with a flying stick exchange. What an incredible sonic experience that was!

Extracts and Art

Extracts and Art

Historically, the Monterey Fairgrounds is recognized as the host to the Monterey International Pop Festival. Artists such as Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, The Who, Grateful Dead, and Jefferson Airplane have graced its impressively large stage known as the Bowl. This stage is the site where Jimi Hendrix lit his Fender Stratocaster on fire.

The Festival

The Festival

Cali Roots 2019 will be this festival’s 10th Anniversary and fans are excited about the announcements of the next line up.

Here’s a slideshow of photos by Pollen Heath from Day One:

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Here’s a slideshow of photos by Pollen Heath from Day Two:

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Here’s a slideshow of photos by Pollen Heath from Day Three:

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About Author

Pollen grew up in the Bay Area music scene, with influences from her step father and uncle’s blues/ rock band, and her mother’s deep seeded love for all things artistic. Picking up a Polaroid at the age of 10, Pollen began her passion for photography. Her music photography career started while documenting Sonoma County punk bands in 1984, and with the exception of raising her two children, Pollen never looked back. Now a college graduate, and full time wine & spirits marketer, she also runs a freelance photography business in the East Bay, with a passion for music and the needs of the local rock scene. When not out shooting for bands and music publications, she also enjoys writing about music, watching horror films and spending time with her two adult children + grand daughter.

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