Cali Roots Presents: J Boog & The Green in Monterey

On the evening of August 28th, Top Shelf Music I descended upon Monterey County Fairgrounds to photograph a magical night of reggae music. The lineup included GRAMMY-nominated J Boog, The Green, Josh Heinrichs and special guest Saritah. It is nights like this that remind us of simpler times spent dancing in ‘The Bowl’ with friends at our beloved Cali Roots!

And, what an experience that was! I have always loved reggae music and, as a native of Monterey, I was elated at the opportunity to photograph a California Roots event. As a primarily nature and lifestyle photographer, I was thrilled at the opportunity to combine two things I love — reggae music and photography. This experience of being able to combine the two was a humbling and gratifying experience for me, as someone who has not had much experience with performance photography. Running back and forth in the photo pit, capturing the exciting quick movements of the performers definitely kept me on my toes!

When I arrived at the fairgrounds, there was an overpowering feeling of delight from the crowd.

After a year-plus of lockdowns and mandates, for many attendees, this was their first concert back at it. With vaccinations increasing and COVID numbers going down, people finally seemed to be comfortable to be themselves again. I made my way through the crowd. As I waded through a sea of dancing bodies, I inhaled the smokey crisp ocean air, I realized I would soon be at the famed, ‘photo pit’. All of a sudden there I was, behind the fence that separated the electrified crowd and the performers. As the performers began to take to the stage, I thought to myself, “How nerve racking!” Every fiber of my being wanted to scream and shout! Such excitement rushed through me, the kind of excitement you feel just behind the glass at the zoo when the lion is coming right for you. I had never been so close to a performance that I could touch the performers and feel the heat from the stage. I knew instantly that this was a night and an experience I would cherish for my entire life. 

Out of all of the performances, the thing that stood out to me was the artists’ consistent expression of appreciation for their fans. When COVID-19 came along, the performing arts world was one of the hardest hit markets; they were the first ones to go out of work and the last to return. I had never felt appreciation like that before and the fans surely noticed. The people in the crowd were such friendly and happy souls, too. Each group I interacted with were enthusiastic to be outside, surrounded by others with the same joy for the beautiful music that we all love. 

I loved and appreciated every second of this endeavor. I’d gratefully do it again in a heartbeat! Thank you so much Top Shelf Media for the wonderful experience and opportunity!


Top Shelf Music is currently looking for interns! We are looking for Admin, Media and Photo assistants. If you want to be an intern for us and have awesome experiences like Briana, shoot us an email.

Photography by Briana Sears

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