By: Allie Adams, Bulldog Media
The 9th annual California Roots Music and Arts Festival kicked off exactly two weeks ago to the day and I cannot believe how quickly the time has passed. It felt like those five days I spent at the Monterey County Fairgrounds happened in the blink of an eye. Time is funny that way. The things you never want to end slip throughyour fingers like the darkness at sunrise, while the things we wish would be over already seem to last a lifetime.
Maybe that’s why we love festivals so much. It’s energy, love, music, fun, vibes and anything else positive you can conjure up within your mind’s eye and LOTS of it in a very, very small window of time. We save, plan, anticipate for months, all for these three days where we overstimulate our senses, love on everyone and never get enough sleep. There is romance in that. There is a longing within a process you can never fully understand unless you live it.
This year I had the honor of documenting the entire festival and was able to capture my favorite moments with the people and artists I love most. And as I sat at my desk and edited those vlogs and photos, I relived every moment that brought me joy, warmth and comfort. I felt that tingling in the pit of my stomach and the goosebumps and the tears.
My hope is that by watching and reading you feel the same thing.
I don’t think you could have opened The Bowl that day with a better band than The Movement. Their vibe brought us to life and even though it was cloudy and dreary earlier that morning, the grey skies turned blue and the sun shone on mine and Bridgette’s glitter-encrusted faces as they played us their new track “Loud Enough” and an acoustic version of “Habit”. We looked at each other and did the eye-lock-giggle thing and I just knew it was going to be a weekend we’d never forget.
On the Cali Roots Stage was Brother Ali and I was beyond stoked because I’ve been a fan for a long time. The entire set everyone sang along and when he played favorites like “Forest Whitiker” we all smiled at the solace which comes from hearing familiar music that hold memories.
HIRIE’s set was aesthetically flawless and drenched in powerful womanly energy. Decked out in an ethereal green dress, curls and flower crown, Trish captivated the audience like she always seems to do with grace and ease. Her band, sporting white trousers with pastel button downs, embraced the most dapper of looks I can only dub “Rat Pack Resort Chic”. Nattali Rize made a surprise appearance to everyone’s delight, and as they joined voices on stage they radiated a power I could literally feel.
After her set I adventured around a bit, said hello to The Random Artist, then walked through the art retreat where I tried on jewelry, lusted after paintings of the galaxy and drank kava (which I had never tried, but promptly fell in love with) from the Ohana Kava booth.
Chronixx is one of those artists that you just know in your heart is going to be a legend one day. He makes mind-blowingly catchy music with purpose and conviction and when he steps on stage you just can’t seem to look away or stop dancing. When he played “Roots & Chalice” at dusk the entire Bowl bounced and chanted in unison and just… wow. It was truly something of the largest proportion. I have no words.
Next I made quick stops to E-40 (Bay Areaaaaaaaaaaaa!), Steel Pulse (had to make it for my favorite song “Steppin’ Out”), the media room, then back to The Bowl For Amp Live’s last DJ set (where I danced so much I didn’t even take any pictures).
Finally, closing out the night was Iration. The sweet sounds of their recently released self-titled album and a full horn section was actual, literal heaven. They played 90 blissful minutes of new jams like “Fly With Me” and “Danger” plus our tried-and-true standbys “Time Bomb” and “Reelin” among many others. I sang along, danced with people I didn’t even know when they covered UB-40 and more than once met eyes with someone who gave me the “I can’t believe this is happening!” nod and smile combo.
If you want to know the truth, I was a little upset when it ended. Like, how dare they stop playing. But, alas, all good things must come to an end and with that we all retreated back to camp to settle in for the night–happy, exhausted, and surrounded by the glow of friendship through music.