California Roots throws party over Memorial Day weekend

Rebecca Olmos,
Staff Writer

The Memorial Day weekend at the Monterey County Fairgrounds was filled with music, art, food, drinks, camping, cannabis and lots of good vibes.

The ninth annual California Roots Music and Arts Festival started Friday and lasted through Sunday evening.

Festival-goers could catch musicians on two main stages, The Bowl and Cali Roots stage, from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. There was also a smaller stage where artists like For Peace Band performed unexpected pop-up performances in front of a lawn full of bean bags chairs.

Tropidelic was the first band on stage Friday morning. The band’s 2017 album, “Heavy Is The Head,” debuted at number one on the iTunes Reggae Charts and hit number three on the Billboard Reggae Charts. It was their first time performing in the Northern California area and their first time performing at Cali Roots.

“We’re rubbing shoulders making a lot of good connections,” Matt Roads, lead singer of Tropidelic told The Pioneer. “We’re from Cleveland, Ohio. So, for somebody like us, here still trying to get our feet wet in the West Coast, playing is only half the battle. So we’ve been out here promoting. We’re out there just hustling, passing out promo cards. That’s most of the battle for us. But the shows have been great.”

Making connections as well as sharing music and art with people makes up a majority of what goes on at the festival. The two main stages are on opposite sides of the fairgrounds and as you walk from performance to performance, you see a slew of non-profit vendors and one-of-a-kind art, some of which is made right in front of you.

Brother Ali, Chronixx and Hirie were some of the more notable performances in the afternoon and evening, but the performance I was most excited for was by Vallejo icon E-40. The Bay Area rapper was fun to watch because he introduced each song with a background story on how they were created. He got the audience hyped with songs like “Function” and “Tell Me When To Go.” The night ended with performances from Atmosphere and Iration.

Saturday’s performances started off with The Ries Brothers, Charlie and Kevin, from Tampa Bay. They’ve watched the live stream performances of Cali Roots for the past few years and this year marked their first time attending and performing.

“To be here at all is amazing,” Charlie told The Pioneer. “Being able to play live is what we take the most pride in. That’s really what’s most important to us and making that connection with the crowd. We’ve noticed people who’ve heard our music versus coming seeing us live, it’s a different reaction for sure. That’s why we’ve been playing so much.”

The live performances continued throughout the day and were live-streamed for those unable to attend. This included performances from The Holdup, Dispatch, Stephen Marley, JBoog and Rebelution.

It’s hard to ignore the smoke clouds that rise above the audience throughout each performance. Fortunate Youth’s set featured one pound joints they smoked on stage and passed around to audience members. There were cannabis vendors throughout the fairgrounds offering delivery services outside the gates that included items like cannabidiol (CBD) beverages.

On Sunday, festival-goers watched performances from The Green, Slightly Stoopid, Tribal Seeds and 311. However, Australian singer-songwriter Tash Sultana was the highlight of the day. She told the audience that acceptance and tolerance were a large part of her music and anyone who was homophobic or transphobic could “Fuck off.”

After-parties at Planet Gemini and the campgrounds wrapped up the 2018 festival.