California Roots Music and Arts Festival

As the sun rose over Monterey, the final day of the festival we had all waited the last three years for felt bittersweet. The anticipation was more than lived up to as the artists we have all come to know and love played with the crowd of 10,000 singing every lyric to every song behind them. Day four was packed with reggae legends and royalty both new and old as the last day of the longest Cali Roots to date sent Monterey home in style.

Day three of Cali Roots drew possibly the biggest crowd in the festival’s history. The masses served as a reminder to all of the community that had been missed so dearly over the last several years. In so many ways, it felt almost like a family reunion with friends in the reggae community we haven’t seen in far too long. With half the festival having passed, the best was still yet to come as Day three held some of the best surprises of the weekend.

As fans came to the Monterey Fairgrounds for the second day of the California Roots Festival, it had a day-one energy to it. Some were still recovering from the extra day the festival had been given the day prior, and some filtered in throughout the day as they got off of work for the weekend, but all were excited for what the second day had in store for them.

Ladies and gentlemen, family and friends, brothers and sisters, we are finally back. After a two year-too long forced hiatus, the biggest festival in American reggae, Cali Roots, returned to the Monterey Fairgrounds for their eleventh and biggest year yet. To make up for lost time, a fourth day was added to the festivities as the long Memorial Day weekend extended to Thursday.

From humble beginnings growing up in Washington, D.C. to touring the world and spreading her inspirational message through her introspective Lyrics, Assata Perkins has built her career by looking deep into herself and turning her own vulnerability into art as Sa-Roc. Her recent album, The Sharecropper's Daughter, was no exception as it took listeners on a journey of the past influencing the present while reflecting her life experiences authentically and without obscuring her own truth.

There are so few bands in the reggae scene that are not only so well known, but universally beloved than the Kona Town heroes themselves, Pepper. Wherever the guys go, they are the most popular people in the room, and for good reason. Their charisma is inarguable and palpable, and their larger-than-life personalities live up to their fans’ hopes who might have only seen them from the stage.

Hopping into a tenured band as the newest member can be an intimidating task in any capacity, much less the frontman, but for Jamaica's Hector Roots Lewis, stepping up and filling in as lead vocals for Southern California reggae veterans Tribal Seeds came instinctually.

Frontman of the Midwest hip hop group Atmosphere, Sean Daley, or "Slug" as he goes by on stage, is a rare breed in the sense that seems to wear his heart on his sleeve and has the perspective to allow himself to be his own person rather than a manufactured image of an onstage persona. Sean carries himself with a sobering energy that reflects his sincerity in how he sees the world and communicates with a level of genuineness and empathy that is refreshing to see in an artist of his tenure.

Reggae has always been known as the genre of “one love” but from the earliest days of his Hawaiian origin, Mike Love has taken this to a new level. He wears many hats as a musician, a spiritual shaman, and even an ordained minister, but few who meet him could help but call him a friend as his welcoming and affectionate aura touches shines so brightly.

Hailing all the way from Saint-Étienne, France, Dub Inc has found a way to transcend the language barrier and garner a passionate fanbase more than 5,000 miles from home. Their onstage passion and chemistry are informed by decades of knowing each other as bandmates and friends, the energy in their live shows are impressive by any standards.

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