Now that the 7th Annual California Roots Music and Arts Festival has came and went, most are reflecting back on the magical weekend they have just experienced. Some festival-goers traveled home with photos and autographs, others went home with band merchandise and priceless art, but all went home with lasting memories of love, friends and family. Because that's what the festy is all about: finding love in all the right places. It's not just the artists onstage who are supposed to inspire peace and unity, it's the people – all coming together as one in an effort to be good to one another, help one another, connect with one another. And there's no better place to do so than the meta, quintessential reggae festival that California Roots has grown to be. For those who have never had the opportunity to attend the festival, imagine the reggae Coachella with the best line-up you could ask for, still holding strong to a rootsy feel, yet without all the frat boy douchebag types wearing trendy Native American headdresses. THAT. Now, add in an unimaginable amount of human kindness and generosity, the friendliest staff and security, artists walking freely amongst the crowd, then multiply that by three days. It's pointless to try to put the weekend into words, for the experience is beyond indescribable, but that skims the surface of a base definition. You get the idea…
One man that has attended five of the seven Monterey celebrations is Brendan Clemente, a solo artist and journalist based out of Ocean Beach, California. Every year since the 3rd Annual Cali Roots, Brendan journeys north to cover the festival as part of the Cali Roots writing staff and as a blogger for Hill Kid, but these two gigs didn't just happen overnight. It happened over three nights, to be exact. The 3rd Annual California Roots was a turning point for Brendan, and he's proud to admit that; that weekend, he was introduced to Rebelution and, consequently, bassist Marley D who quickly roped him into writing for his Hill Kid blog. Brendan met many of the California Roots media staff, and those connections blossomed into an annual writing gig – check your 7th Annual programs, Brendan wrote the centerfold story! With all this networking success, it's no wonder that Brendan felt the urge to write a love letter to the festival… but that's not the main reason he did so.
the festival needed a song – one that really captures the festival's essence from a festival-goer's perspective
Four years ago, I was there when Brendan attended the 3rd Annual California Roots Festival. I was there when he met a girl that changed his life forever. I was there trying to get the two of them out of a tent in the camping section because they preferred to be there together than catch the bands performing a short distance away. And I was there this year when I saw them once again, sitting together like they had just met, reminiscing on old memories and making new ones right before my eyes. Brendan found more than an experience at Cali Roots, he found a life. He found a girl. He quite literally left his heart in Monterey, and lives through the festival every day when he wakes up next to the girl of his dreams.
It's breathtaking to see true love, true passion. California Roots is much more than live music, it's a literal movement. In just one weekend, you feel awakened again – revitalized. The festival has been covered, year after year, by photographers, videographers, and journalists. HIRIE wrote a Cali Roots song in Year 6, complete with an improvised video that was made on the spot! But, the festival needed a song – one that really captures the festival's essence from a festival-goer's perspective. Brendan was up for the challenge.
The “Cali Roots Love Song” is Brendan's first release as a solo artist, being the former bassist of the punk/reggae band The StirCrazies out of San Diego. The track was recorded at The Grey Brick Recording Studio, and it features guest performers Jack Taylor of Jet West and Mister Midnight Music on horn and keys. With so much love to put into the song, Brendan delivers with lyrics like he's “learning what it's like to be alive”. Cali Roots is a magical time, and finding love at the festival may feel too surreal to be true, yet Brendan proclaims his love will last beyond the weekend. The song is sweet, soothing, and instills not only nostalgia, but complacency simultaneously. If there's one thing to take away from the festival, it's that “roots are family” – California Roots creates family.
The “Cali Roots Love Song” is now available for live streaming on SoundCloud and can be found on both California Roots and Hill Kid blog sites. Brendan Clemente is looking forward to releasing more solo tracks soon, and can be found guest performing from time to time down in San Diego, where he happily lives with his Cali Roots goddess.