California Roots 2024: Day One

California Roots Music and Arts Festival took over beautiful Monterey County Fairgrounds for its 13th year, spanning Friday through Sunday on Memorial Day Weekend 2024. I arrived an hour before gates opened (at noon) to witness a sea of happy concertgoers eagerly awaiting to be let into the festival. Once those gates opened, everyone dressed in their best Rasta and tie-dye gear poured into the fairgrounds, dispersing between all the wonderful food and merch booths or rushing to get the best front row spot for one of the many Day One bands projected to play. 

The first band on the bill was Arise Roots at the main Bowl Stage.

They got the Cali Roots party going strong, with songs like “Come and Get It” and “Rootsman Town”. Arise Roots was the perfect band to start the day. Next up, down at the other Cali Roots Stage, GRAMMY Award-winner Kabaka Pyramid kept the good vibes up with modern reggae straight out of Jamaica. Following that, it was time to take a trip down memory lane with hip hop’s Living Legends back at the Bowl Stage. The rap supergroup from the mid 90s — consisting of Luckyiam, Sunspot Jonz, The Grouch, Eligh, Aesop The Black Wolf, Bicaso, and Murs — brought so much energy, passing the mic back and forth while performing all their hits, including “Never Fallin’”, “Wise Is the Way”, and “Moving At The Speed of Life”.

Tropidelic played the Cali Roots Stage next, followed by The Elovaters at the Bowl Stage. 

By this point, we’ve only just about hit the halfway mark of Day One when Australia’s Xavier Rudd performed on the Cali Roots Stage. One can’t help but be in awe when watching Xavier perform; from guitar to percussion, to slide guitar to his iconic didgeridoo, Xavier Rudd does it all and makes it look so effortless. His music is medicine for the soul and his set was absolutely beautiful. It was such a treat to have him on the lineup. 

Hawaiian reggae star J Boog brought the aloha spirit next, singing to a packed audience at the Bowl Stage all the hits. The crowd went absolutely crazy during “Sunshine Girl”. The good vibes rolled on with Fortunate Youth next on the Cali Roots Stage at 5:30pm before Bay Area rap legends Too $hort and E-40 played got hyphy at the Bowl Stage, with bangers including “Blow the Whistle” and “Tell Me When To Go”.

By 7:40pm, the fog was starting to roll in as Stick Figure began their fiery, bass-heavy set alongside their unofficial band mascot Cocoa the Tour Dog. Closing out the night was reggae royalty Ziggy Marley — eldest son of the reggae messiah himself, Bob Marley. The energy was unreal in the Bowl for this grand finale to close out Friday. Thank you Cali Roots for making this amazing day of music from all over the world possible. It was hard to believe that this was only Day One! Stay tuned for more from this stellar music festival, one filled with love, good vibes, and good music.

Photography by Sean McCracken & Katey Schoenberger; recap by Katey Schoenberger

Share this article


Become a Patron

Get music updates in your inbox

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments