By: Brendan Clemente

It’s around this time every year that I start thinking about the gorgeous drive up the coast, the stunning ocean views, the majestic golden hills surrounding me on all sides, and breathing in that first breath of crisp, refreshing, Monterey Bay air. In other words, California Roots weekend is almost upon us.

It’s so fun and exciting seeing how big the reggae-rock scene has grown in recent years. I mean, it seems like every time I blink there’s another awesome festival popping up somewhere, filled with a mix of the most popular bands on the scene, legends of the genre, and fresh, newer bands hungry to get their music out to the world.

It truly warms my heart seeing the scene spread ever-further, touching more lives, and bringing people together through positive music and peaceful intentions. I only wish I had the time and money to hop around and enjoy the unique scenery and vibes of every single one of these festivals.

California Roots will forever hold a special place in my heart though. Am I biased? Of course I’m biased… aren’t we all? We gravitate to the people and places that bring us the most fun and best memories. And Cali Roots happens to be a place that I’ve experienced unlimited happiness, joy, fun, beautiful music, kind-hearted people, and so much more over the years.

I’ve attended this festival every year since 2012, and watched it grow from a cool little festival, to an enormous 10,000+ person event that’s known all over the world. It wasn’t just the festival that grew either, it was the bands that helped make it what it is – Rebelution, Slightly Stoopid, Stick Figure, the Marleys, Fortunate Youth, Passafire, Iration, Tribal Seeds, and so many more.

It’s beautiful seeing what it’s become, and there are far too many amazing memories to count…

I started falling in love with my future wife for the first time at California Roots;
I tasted and felt kava for the first time with Ohana Kava, while listening to KBong jam an acoustic set;
I built my old punk reggae band from nothing, to where we had the opportunity to open the main stage at California Roots, the same stage that Jimi Hendrix once burned his guitar on at the Monterey Pop Festival;
I met Braelyn, Marley, DJ Mackle, and the Hill Kid guys that I now blog for through Cali Roots;
I met the founders of the festival, and experienced their kindness and generosity… seeing their big smiles every time they bring all these people together to bond and experience the power of live music is truly special.

This list could stretch on forever…

It’s safe to say my life would be a lot different if California Roots wasn’t a part of it. As someone who grew up in the northeast, California has always been an enchanting place for me. I used to only be able to imagine what it would feel like seeing the mountain-lined coast, the palm-tree lined streets, and the beautiful and historic places that hold so much rich, musical history.

California Roots is the place that sums up my entire California experience. It embodies so many of my favorite parts about life, and rolls them up into one stunning weekend, filled with beautiful music, best friends, and memories that will live forever.

Counting down the final days before we make our seventh trip to Monterey for the festival, I’m most excited to see the friends who have become family over the years, and to meet the new friends who are bound to become future family.

I truly can’t tell you how much I’m looking forward to celebrating the cosmic beauty of this place with all of you again. Get ready for an epic weekend!