California Roots 2024: Day Two

Day Two at California Roots Music and Arts Festival 2024 resumed on Saturday, May 25th, at the Monterey County Fairgrounds. The sun was shining and folks were smiling as they lined up early for another fun-filled day, kicking off with The Wide Eyed Kids on the Bowl Stage who played songs off their album Beautiful Disaster, as well as some newer songs like their latest release, “A Good One”. Next, across the festival on the Cali Roots Stage, was the beautiful Claire Wright. The California native made her Cali Roots debut with her longtime friends/bandmates.

Her golden retriever, Captain, even made an onstage appearance from time to time.

Seeing Claire Wright perform with her pup and infectious smile stole my heart — it was the highlight set of the day for me! The Wide Eyed Kids felt like the perfect summer roadtrip soundtrack, while Wright felt like a summer sunset on the beach, with man’s (well, actually, woman’s) best friend by your side. 

Souls Of Mischief were next, throwing things back to the year ’93. The East Oakland rappers passed the mic back and forth, spitting bars to chill beats and playing their classics like “Step To My Girl” and “93’ Till Infinity”. Rawayana, a Latin American band from Venezuela, followed next on the Cali Roots Stage to a very energetic crowd. 

By this time, it was midday and — being the second day — I had been able to visit some of the great vendors at this point. Shoutout to Dad’s Elixirs for a great way to discretely consume/medicate with their tasty cannabis syrups! For food, I was hooked on What’s Popp’n Popcorn’s yummy popcorn; their Sweet White Cheddar was my favorite. And last, shoutout to official beer sponsor, Alvarado Street Brewery’s delicious Tropical Mai Tai IPA. (Almost forgot to include the official Cali Roots “Weird Water”, which I was sure to have plenty of in between. Always stay hydrated folks!!) 

Back at the Bowl Stage, it was time for one of the most anticipated bands of the weekend — L.A.B. from New Zealand.

I was instantly hooked on first listen to L.A.B. and their live set did not disappoint. They seamlessly blend genres reggae, rock, funk, blues, and electronic. I don’t know if they were having technical difficulties and the set was cut short or if it just flew by, because it was over before I knew it. Either way, I would love to see this band again — and as soon as possible. They have a little bit of something for everyone to enjoy. Thank you Cali Roots for introducing me to them~

Next, over on the Cali Roots Stage, was a band I am no stranger to — The Expendables. Growing up just 30 minutes from Santa Cruz, these local legends have been a staple of my teen years… and ever since. Fast forward and they still don’t disappoint. Noticeably, they were missing their beloved frontman Geoff Weers. We wish him well, sending nothing but love and good vibes, and hope he gets better soon. Hope to see you back onstage with your brothers soon, buddy. 

Tribal Seeds then brought a rootsy party to the packed Bowl Stage. 

Things got irie, which only continued with Rastafari royalty next in the form of 2x GRAMMY-winner, Burning Spear. Fun fact, back in 1969, Burning Spear founder Winston Rodney asked his friend Bob Marley for some advice about his music and was advised to seek out Coxsone Dodd and Studio One. The rest is history. Seeing Burning Spear was such a special treat, I was in awe wondering what kind of stories this man must have! The guitarist often kept trying to get the crowd to get loud, but I think we were all just in awe and speechless, taking it all in. 

Closing out Day Two was a double-whammy of reggae royalty — Stephen Marley and Damian Marley’s ‘Traffic Jam’. Cali Roots really spoiled us this year with back-to-back nights of Marley greatness! I’m sure Bob Marley was smiling down on his sons as they connected in Monterey, providing all with such an exciting set. Just like Ziggy Marley the night prior, their energy was unmatched. With still one more day to go, it’s going to be hard to top this next year, Cali Roots!

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

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