Editors Note: Rabbits Black is taking on the California Roots Music & Arts Festival in Monterey, California this year. You can read our Festival Preview here. You know us, we love our festivals! When there’s one like this in our backyard, we have to make it out and tell you what it’s all about. But before we get to the Monterey Fair Grounds this weekend, we put together this little guide to help you find some lesser known acts throughout the 3 days and 48 bands that will be playing the Cali Roots festival. Rabbits Black correspondent Misty has uncovered some gems for you.
Obviously the big name headliners; Damian Marley, Rebelution, Iration, 311, SOJA, Steel Pulse (just to name a few) are what initially sucks you in. This festival however, is one of the best destinations to tap into the real roots-tie roots underground groups that are solid within the Reggae Community.
With less than a week away I tapped into Custom Schedule feature on the Cali Roots website. This is the moment that I get to click onto each artist’s tab and get a little sneak peak into their sound and background. Side note, just today on my way to work I was listening to a song I had heard for the first time and bookmarked on Pandora. I was nothing short of ‘feelin it’ while listening to this song with my windows down, wind in my hair and all the while visualizing this weekends festivities to come and how badass it would be to dance around to this song live. Back to my band stalking session; HOLY S#*! To my surprise, as if the music Gods were listening to my mind today, there is the band from my moment in the car driving earlier in the day- Stick Figure; a multi-instrumentalist group from Massachusetts, playing The Bowl at 1:45 on Friday. Scott Woodruff, often referred to as a ‘one man band’ single-handedly created 4 full length albums from 2006-2012 by layering tracks on top of another. Now a foursome; Kevin Bong on keyboards, Kevin Offitzer (drums), Tommy Suliman (bass) and of course the man who started it all Scott. While we are at a this, I am sending my request for them to play this:
Check out videos and songs from every artist in this article in the Video Gallery above.
Another artist that is sure to make you skank it out, J Boog at 4:45 at The Bowl on Friday! From a young age this man was destined to make it “nice to nice to” see him (I couldn’t help myself, listen to the song below)! Straight outta Compton he turned to music as a child to keep himself out of trouble. J Boog first performed in front of a live audience at the young age of nine years old. Fun fact; J Boog got his name from his grannie who called him ‘Boogie’ because he loved to dance! J the initial of his first name. So sweet!
Now for some honorable mentions that were close to making our Top 5 Can’t Miss Acts. Another guilty pleasure of mine and soon to be yours, Aer will be bringing more of a pop indie reggae vibe to the Cali Roots Stage on Saturday from 12:30-1:30 on Saturday(get ready to dance yo)! These two youngsters David Von Mering and Carter Schultz, are just getting started at the ages of 19 + 20. A Rabbits Black favorite for years, Cisco Adler will be performing as a solo act at 7:20 PM on Friday at The Original Stage. Cisco was the lead singer of Malibu surf-rock band Whitestarr. We miss the days of seeing Cisco perform with his Malibu pack in Hollywood. While Cisco may have left those days behind, you can catch his new material at Cali Roots.
Alborosie!?! The first Italian reggae artist to be internationally recognized is no doubt an amazing performer! Born in Sicily now residing in Kingston Jamaica as a multi-instrumentalist. He started his career with a band called Reggae National Tickets at 15 years old but in 2001 decided to try a solo career moving to Kingston Jamaica where he had to rise above the ‘not so nice’ treatment from the locals for being a white reggae artist. “Borosie’ was an insult nickname that he acquired while living there and he decided to add ‘Al’ (beginning of his name Albert) in front of it and turn a bad thing into a good thing. He continued to prove himself becoming the first ever white artist to win M.O.B.O (Music Of Black Origin) Award in the Best Reggae Act category. He spits so much lyrical knowledge that will have you moving to his words as much as his riffs at the Cali Roots Stage at 3:15 on Saturday.
At 6:15 on the Cali Roots Stage on Saturday, get ready for a change of in a really good way with Nahko and The Medicine For The People. Playing the piano from the age of six and leading a life of spiritual healing. His vibrations will surely have you dancing, laughing, crying, or standing in awe… regardless his voice and words are just beautiful, powerful and moving!
If you have not seen Groundation live, this is your chance at the Cali Roots Stage at 3:15 on Sunday! Groundation comes from the Rasta term Groundation Day (April 21) which is an important holy day celebrating and honoring Haile Selassie’s visit to Jamaica. Harrison Stafford, the lead vocalist and guitarist is the founder of the nine piece band. Their sound is altogether a new reggae featuring jazz/funk inspired horns, Latin and African based polyrhythmics and soulful harmonies. The energy that these guys give off is infectious and will amp you up for the remaining artist to send you sailing into the second half of the Festival!
I could really go on and on about every one of the talented artists in the lineup this festival has managed to pack into three days, but I have to leave some gems for you all to discover for yourselves. Get your party pants on people, this festival is going to rock your world!