California Roots Music and Arts Festival
Day two of California Roots Music and Arts Festival 2019 was when it started to become increasingly undeniable that the festival was growing closer and closer to the level of popularity akin to a traditional mainstream festival, as opposed to its usual niche. Much of the festival’s merchandise sold out before the end of day one, a clear sign that this year’s festival grew faster than even optimistically expected.
Cali Roots Veterans Pepper has been known to call the California Roots Music & Arts Festival the “Super Bowl” of the genre, and over the last decade, it has proven time and time again that it represents the apex of what reggae can be in America. It has passed every festival that inspired it inspired it by countless lengths in virtually every way.
California grown, Island inspired, The Late Ones have been bringing their take on reggae music to the stage for quite some time. Comprised of the Avei brothers and their close friend Josh Brunson, their harmonies show through their chemistry onstage and their conscious and edgy lyrics in the studio.
No conversation about the modern resurgence of Jamaican roots reggae would be complete without mentioning the influence of Jesse Royal. A man who is nothing short of the embodiment of why Jamaicans and lions so often go hand in hand, he has let his heart lead his career and brought his message of love and unity to all corners of the world. Over the past few years, his career has taken off in spectacular fashion. Performing to crowds so far away from his home town of St. James Parish and growing his fan base with every performance. After his set at this year’s Cali Roots festival, we spoke with Jesse about a wide range of topics from his family ties, stereotypes that affect him, and his relationship with something very near and dear to our hearts, The Grateful Dead.
Over the course of many years of working in this profession, we in this field are lucky enough to be given the opportunity to meet countless musicians who have influenced us in so many ways. As fans, we create Paul Bunion like images in our minds of these people based off small snippets of themselves that they send out into the world, and can’t help but feel a bond with the version of themselves that they want to highlight, and sometimes even fabricate.
After an illustrious career that speaks for itself, David Hinds and Steel Pulse have forever shaped the history of music. The first non-Jamaican artist to win a Grammy for reggae, he has had a presence in the community since its grassroots days, and his influence is undeniable. We got a chance to sit down for quite a while with Hinds at this year’s Cali Roots festival. In this time, we got quite glimpse into his mind and his thoughts on modern reggae.
One of London, England’s premier reggae acts The Skints electrified the Cali Roots stage for the third time in their career this summer in Monterey. Blending reggae with every genre under the sun while still living up to their image as upbeat and energetic musicians from the UK, they have built a dedicated and worldwide following through their quality music and relentless touring.
Champion of modern Jamaican reggae, Protoje, has proven that even in modern times, traditional reggae is as relevant as ever. A staple of Easy Star Records, he has been one of the faces of the roots reggae revival, and since the release of his newest album “A Matter of Time” his influence is now more prolific than ever. Fresh off his Grammy nomination for best reggae album of 2019, we sat down with Protoje at this year’s Cali Roots to speak with him about his recent success, his favorite milestones, and above all how he continues to stay humble through it all.
Xiuhtezcatl Martinez is truly a person who lives beyond boundaries. An activist as much as he is an artist, his mission has brought him everywhere from the stage, to the courtroom, to late night television appearances, and there seems to be no audience he cannot reach with his message as he continues to use his platform for more than just a means to further his own growth. His lyrics and his everyday vernacular are blunt and at times transcendent in unexpected ways, but his passion for everything he does is ultimately undeniable.
Nashville Tennessee might not be where you would think to look for an original reggae sound, but for Roots of a Rebellion, that proved to be just the place to develop their own unique style of music. The six-piece band has been performing together for almost a decade. From college dorm rooms to cross-country tours, they have grown into themselves as musicians over the years and are enjoying the “blessing” as they put it to now finally be given the opportunity to spend more time performing on the West Coast.