California Roots is what some people may have termed “musical heaven on earth”, well maybe that’s what I told California Roots I described it as in a survey I recently took for them. That might be a slight exaggeration, but I have to say it is my favorite music festival hands down.
Maybe it’s because I tend to know and be familiar with a lot of the artists in the bands that perform there and it feels like a tighter knit community than your typical festival. Maybe it’s just simply because of the great music with good vibes all around and the fact that it’s located in beautiful Monterey Fairgrounds and going up there is an exciting road trip and fun getaway for a long weekend.
However to sum it up, California Roots is my favorite music festival because of the friends I have made there, the experiences I have had there, and the fact that I kind of feel like I’ve been there from its beginning when it just started, even though the first year I went was the 3rd year out of its 5th year that I just came back from.
The first year that I went, I remember dancing with a bunch of friends right beside the stage that Iration (my fave band) was on while they were singing a cover to Weezer’s Say it Ain’t So and it was just an epic moment. After Iration played I was able to just go pat Micah (the lead singer) and Kai (former singer) on the back and say great job! It’s not very often that you get to experience something like that on a stage of that size with a band of their stature! People were also climbing trees to get a great view of my fave female reggae artist Anuhea perform on stage!
The 2nd year I went, the festival expanded to 3 days so it was one more day of amazing music and great times and another favorite band of mine was playing, Ballyhoo!, who I discovered on Jango.com and the Wheeland Brothers were playing (who I had also recently discovered on a different web radio station, Surfroots.com). That year was also special as I remember a group of us just right up front by the stage, me wearing my Ballyhoo shirt, and the great Kodak moment we all got from that. I also had a couple fun run ins with some band members who weren’t playing that year but just there as a fan, it was cool to just hang with them as co-fans! There were a lot of San Diego bands representing as well and I remember great times listening to Stranger Band and Mike Pinto play.
The 3rd year I went the festival grew even larger, expanding onto the Bowl stage where legends like Jimmy Hendrix played. There were just so many great acts to see, and the 3 day weekend just flew by! San Diego bands were representing again this year and The Stir Crazies, a great reggae/punk band got a prime slot opening the weekend on the big main “Bowl” stage. I was sporting my Stir Crazies shirt along with two other friends of mine – we were total Stir Crazies kateers!! They did an amazing job and I’m sure captured a ton of new fans that weekend! Iration was back along with so many other top notch acts like Pepper, Rebelution, and Ziggy Marley, you just couldn’t ask for a better lineup for the festival!
I can’t wait to go again next year and am already planning. The festival will continue to get bigger which is great for the reggae/rock scene, but I will always cherish the days I got here when it was in its early years and a bit smaller and intimate!