Smokin Js & Cali Roots Music Festival 2014
California Roots 2014 still feels like a dream. An unbelievable three day line-up, the first camping trip of the year, road tripping through California, and to top it off, it was my birthday weekend! I had more Smokin Js freebiesthan I knew what to do with, and I was ready for an adventure.
Twenty hours, some sight seeing, a flat tire, and a couple of wrong turns later, we finally made it to the Laguna Seca Raceway campground where the majority of the festival goers stayed. The campground sold out months in advance, even using double overflow areas. There were campers everywhere! We had just enough time to set up camp, make some new acquaintances and get a little pre-partying under our belts before it was time to hit the sack.
Friday kicked off the first day of the 5th annual Cali Roots fest, the largest reggae music and arts festival in the United States. We would wake up to the sound of race cars whizzing around the track every morning. My dad would have been jealous. The excitement of getting things underway was eminent on the shuttle bus ride and throughout the lines that wrapped around the fairgrounds entrance. The fairgrounds were packed with over 30,000 like-minded people, live art, vendor booths selling festival gear, smoking apparatuses, clothing, and the sweet sweet smell of food truck cuisine filled the air. Three stages, three days, 45+ performances…It was impossible to see everyone.
I survived the shuttle bus!
Stick Figure, Passafire, and J Boog put on some great shows. Steel Pulse, a true roots group who have been performing for over 35 years, were one of the groups I was most excited to see and judging by the packed Bowl Arena, I wasn’t the only one. The first night would commence with a three and a half hour set by Soja. They played fan favorites like “I don’t wanna wait”, “Sorry”, and “She still loves me” and finished with guitarist, Jacob Hemphill, burning a guitar on-stage in tribute to the great Jimi Hendrix where he had burned his guitar in the same spot back in 1967. The crowd loved it!
Saturday’s line-up was another one for the record books, but the most notable performances of the day were, without a doubt, Alborosie and Ziggy Marley. If you have not had a chance to see Alborosie perform live, put it on your to-do list. His voice is unlike any I’ve ever heard and you can feel the energy coming off of those crazy swinging dreads. Ziggy Marley was so fantastic to watch. You can really feel the power of his music. He opened with “Love is my religion” and the crowd never stopped dancing from that point on.
Alborosie Was Amazing
Sunday was bittersweet. It was a weekend you just didn’t want to end. Luckily, they saved some of the best performances for last: Groundation, Clear Conscious, Micah Brown, Pepper, The Green, 311, and Damian Marley to name a few. Skunk records co-founder, Michael “Miguel” Happoldt took the stage for a special performance and did a rendition of early Sublime and Long Beach Dub All-stars to celebrate their 25th anniversary.
In addition to the music, there were pieces of art of all varieties: 3-D, blacklight, oil, acryllic, and spray paint. By the end of the weekend, most of the paintings had ‘sold’ signs attached to them. There were so many incredibly talented artists, but one of the most wonderous sites to see was the amazing Kirk O’Hara, who paints using only his mouth.
The best part of the trip, and what I’ll remember forever, was the nightly fire jam circles back at camp. We had a variety of drums, guitars, a harmonica, some weird maracca type instrument, and after that we got creative. I was privilaged to have met some of the most kind and generous souls on this trip, and came out of it with some amazing new friends.
Like all good things though, the trip had to come to an end. And while I was sad to leave our barbaric camping lifestyle behind, my back was excited for a bed and my belly for some real food. I finally earned the credentials of being a respectable traveler with my sunglasses burnt to my face. I would say that all in all this trip was a success and I hope next year can top this one. One Love:)
I Couldn’t Resist!
Megan is the Smokin Js web manager, Olympia store goddess, and Jay’s right hand girl. Whenever and wherever you see her out and about she always has plenty of Smokin Js free swag to hand out. Thanks for coming back Megan.