The 5th annual California Roots Music and Arts Festival will take place at the historic Monterey County Fairgrounds from May 23-25, 2014. This year’s impressive lineup combines the best talent from the progressive US Reggae scene with SOJA, Rebelution, 311, and Pepper with Jamaican favorites including Steel Pulse, Ziggy Marley, Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley, and many more.
This annual festival has come a long way in just four short years. Festival Director Dan Sheehan enthusiastically states, “We have worked so hard over the last few years to really put this festival on the map not only in California but nationwide. The event started off as a one day event back in 2010 with about 1200 people in attendance to a festival that is now 3 days with over 10K people coming through the gates each day. We work year round on this event and our North Carolina event and we wouldn’t have it any other way!” The art side of the festival is equally important. Dan adds, “Live painters on stage has become part of the California Roots Festival since year one and it just keeps getting stronger. We look at it as part of the overall experience of the event and the fans and bands really get into it.”
For more than a decade, U.S. Reggae artists have been organically building a solid foundation from the Hawaiian Islands to the west and east coasts. This new generation of Reggae artists like Rebelution, SOJA, and The Green continue to reach new heights of success through prolific music releases, relentless touring, and collaboration. The budding American scene will make you sit up and take note with impressive album sales (charting in the Billboard 200), sold out shows in top tier venues (The Catalyst, The Warfield, Fox Theater, The Greek in Berkley, Fillmore, Club Nokia) and savvy social media skills (SOJA has over 3 million followers). The California Roots Music and Arts Festival was the first major event to take these likeminded artists and showcase them in a festival setting.
California Roots Festival uses social media year-round, engaging fans, bands, artists, and brands. They showcase a variety of content, mixed media, and contests through networks like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Curtis Bergesen of Rootfire, co-manages Hawaii-based band The Green and leverages social media in strategic ways. He says, "Digitally connecting with people through a shared passion for music is an incredible thing. Social media has allowed The Green to grow their fan base across continents, in real time. Whether it's sharing a new photo, or replying to a fan's question, being active online has been vital to the band's success. The Green recently won a Hawaii Five-0 fan built episode contest, beating out much larger artists The Black Keys and Switchfoot. They achieved this by engaging their audience through social media, and motivating passionate fans to vote for them."
Jamaican Reggae artists have also recognized the potential in the flourishing US scene and have embraced collaboration with stateside artists and co-billing on tours and festivals like Cali Roots. Well-respected reggae label VP Records, who has been at the forefront of Jamaican reggae and Caribbean releases, have recently been releasing compilations highlighting more stateside artists like their Dub Rockers, Vol 1. “VP Records is excited to be a part of the California Roots Festival and help to create a unified global Reggae scene through the Dub Rockers label,” says Zack Reed.
The festival sold out last year so the organizers had to expand into a bigger area of the Monterey County Fairgrounds, home to the famous 1967 Monterey International Pop Festival, where Jimi Hendrix lit his guitar on fire and Janis Joplin rose to prominence. The 5th annual California Roots Music and Arts Festival looks to be on its way to selling out again, due to its strong brand and reputation as a top tier national festival.