It’s always a cathartic experience, gracing the Monterey Fairgrounds gates for yet another Memorial Day Weekend at California Roots Music & Arts Festival. Unlike any other year, expectations were peaking for the 10th Annual to get underway (the milestone dubbed ‘Cali Roots X’ for good measure). Also unlike any other is the feeling of togetherness, not just for festivalgoers, but also for the performers themselves! Only Cali Roots brings the whole reggae rock family to the same place at the same time. Of course, you never know what could happen.
The weekend was kicked off with one of the bands that flew the furthest to be there — For Peace Band from Guam. Fiji followed on the Bowl Stage as Ocean Beach band Sensi Trails busted out a pop-up performance over in the Artist Retreat area. Infectious smiles were spreading across the grounds like wildfire, for everyone knew the magic of Cali Roots was finally happening again after a whole year away. Ballyhoo! upped the ante by making people mosh just as it was hitting midday, right before Don Carlos and his fun-loving demeanor stole the hearts of the Bowl Stage crowd. Ballyhoo! double downed by crashing the Kash’d Out pop-up on what used to be the main stage a long, long time ago. Kash’d Out wasn’t over after that, promoting a bike raffle and riding it around the grounds the rest of the weekend.
Only Cali Roots brings the whole reggae rock family to the same place at the same time.
GRAMMY-nominees Common Kings, with their reggae meets hip hop vibes, continued the Bowl Stage party; Eli Mac took it down a notch with an acoustic pop-up performance alongside all star players from Tribal Seeds, HIRIE and more. Newcomer and highly anticipated Citizen Cope was up next, letting the drummer kick back, before the playful antics of Steel Pulse had everyone rallying around the red, black, gold and green flag. The Expendables, with a full set the next day, surprised all with an early pop-up. You gotta love those unplanned Cali Roots moments…
The Green took people into the evening as hip hop triad Atmosphere entertained all with goofy grins and quirky mannerisms between raw lyrics. Ben Harper and his slide guitar brought a bit of bluesy rock ‘n’ roll to the event next before headliner number one closed down Friday for all. Well, until the afterparties started, naturally. What was exceptional about this was the fact that Stick Figure, a band that started from the bottom, has finally risen to a Cali Roots headlining slot. Spectators were anything but passive about this, beaming with adoration and pride as they witnessed the Stick boys tear up the stage at a place they’ve rightfully earned.
With one night down, people adjourned to afterparties in all directions, whether that be in the campgrounds, across the street at the Jade Lounge or their respective hotels. One thing was for sure, Cali Roots X was bringing the business already. Stay tuned for more CRX coverage coming soon!
Photography by Gia Krietzberg, Sean McCracken & Kristy Rose