Thursday, April 25

Cali Roots reggae fest to feature top performers

On the same stage that Jimi Hendrix famously blazed his guitar into an inferno in 1967, the 5th annual California Roots Music and Arts Festival will feature top performers, young and old, of the reggae genre on Memorial Day weekend.

The springtime climate of California’s Central Coast sets the backdrop for this year’s festival, hosted at the Monterey County Fair and Event Center in Monterey.

Grammy Award-winning artists Damian and Ziggy Marley, chart-topping reggae band Rebelution and triple-platinum artists 311 and Steel Pulse contribute to a lineup of 48 bands set to perform across three stages from May 23-25.

Over the course of the three-day weekend, attendees will encounter an eco-friendly, outdoor festival experience of music, live painters and a plethora of food vendors with a zero-waste policy.

Festival producers said that it has been a dream to expand the experience to the historic main arena in Monterrey, where Hendrix, Janis Joplin and The Who performed years ago for the Monterey Pop Festival. Given the sold-out nature of the festival last year, it is suspected that the arena will be packed and the event will sell out again this year.

Roots reggae band Steel Pulse from Birmingham, England, will perform on the first night of the festival along with Washington, D.C.-based SOJA, which has been touring the East Coast extensively after several international performances in Salvador and Argentina in 2013.

“We think of this more as a three-day safe haven,” said festival co-producer Dan Sheehan. “Families and music lovers can come, relax, throw some blankets down and simply be themselves, without judgment, while embracing unity and friendship – both new and old.”

Coming off its latest release, “Hawai’i ’13,” Hawaiian roots reggae band The Green will perform on Sunday at The Bowl stage, followed by Kona-based reggae rock group Pepper.

Worthy of further mention is the festival’s adherence to environmentally friendly practices.

“We’ve partnered with The Offset Project (TOP) for a couple of years now, a local nonprofit that helps to reduce waste in the landfills and educate vendors, concessions and festivalgoers as to the proper way to separate compostable materials and recyclables. It’s all done by volunteers,” Sheehan said.

Bicycle activists and event sponsor Green Pedal Couriers are encouraging attendees to bring their bicycles, skateboards, longboards, rollerblades and even strollers to its green valet area, where they will be secured by on-site staff.

This year, the festival will provide a “California Roots ride” shuttle service for those coming from the campsites.

“We now have all of the elements for an all-inclusive festival experience with the recent partnership of Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca campgrounds for both tent and RV campers,” Sheehan said.

Arts, crafts and clothing will be on display around the fairgrounds throughout the festival, along with food vendors and nonprofits Conscious Immaturity and Unify to Thrive. Free water will also be provided inside of festival grounds.

Santa Cruz-based Haven Art Studio will be present along with a series of live painters that will be working on art pieces throughout the festival. The artist team has performed in front of audiences at venues including UC Berkeley’s Greek Theatre, the Santa Barbara Bowl and the legendary Red Rocks Amphitheatre near Denver, Colo.

The California Roots Music and Arts Festival provides opportunities for attendees to get involved in areas outside of just the music. The Yoga Paradigm will host classes on Saturday and Sunday to reenergize festivalgoers and to add a physical aspect to the experience.

Many artists within the genre come together for the “Cali Roots” fest, as it has seen successful turnout in recent years. Last year, one highlight of the weekend involved a collaboration between members of Rebelution, Iration and Slightly Stoopid contributing vocals during a performance of “Vampire” by Tribal Seeds, a roots reggae band.

The festival coincides with several upcoming releases, including Rebelution’s new album, “Count Me In,” to be released June 10. Tribal Seeds will release its new album “Representing” on May 13 and is not scheduled to perform, but it has told fans that it will be in attendance.

The addition of the main arena adds a new stage dynamic to the festival for the first time in its five-year history. Tickets are selling out fast and are available online along with additional information about the festival.

“Last year was an endearing experience to see thousands upon thousands of fans holding hands, swaying to the music and singing the lyrics of these artists in harmony,” said artist-media liaison Tanya Moore. “To know that this year we’ll see that on even a larger scale, with the strung white lights in the main arena, is beyond words.”

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