By: Brendan Clemente

Photo: Thomas Persichilli at Socal Reggae

The first time someone asked me to go to California Roots, I said, “I really want to – that lineup is insane. But I can’t afford a trip up to Monterey right now.”

“C’mon”, my friend said, “Since when do you choose money over an experience you’ll remember the rest of your life?”

He had a point. I’ve always tended to choose experiences over things. I like thinking about it like this – when I’m looking back on my life at 90 years old, will I be happy with the decisions I made?

In case you didn’t already guess, I ended up going to the festival. That was in 2012. Here I am five years later, writing a blog post for California Roots, and I can’t even begin to tell you how many beautiful things have happened in my life as a result of that one choice.

Photo: Ashley Kidwell with Dan Kelly of Fortunate Youth

The first year I went to Cali Roots I hung out with the girl of my dreams all weekend – she’s now my fiance. The next year I met Marley D Williams there, the bass player from Rebelution, and ended up working for his clothing line Hill Kid – Hill Kid is now like family to me. Another year, I was able to get my old band The StirCrazies on the festival lineup, and Cali Roots gave us the chance to play on the same stage as 311, Slightly Stoopid, Rebelution, Stick Figure, Damian Marley, and more.

I still have to pinch myself to remind me that all really happened.

Every single one of these experiences is one that I will remember and cherish for the rest of my life. So many incredible things happened because I decided to take a chance and go to the festival that one weekend in 2012.

To Go Or Not To Go?

Sometimes it’s a really tough choice. What about work? What about your savings account? I won’t even try and pretend that it’s always an easy, “HELL YES!”

Photo: Angie Ortiz

But you should give it some serious thought. Too often we find ourselves drenched in the same patterns, routines, jobs, relationships, etc. For example, I wake up every morning and write for two hours, and every night before bed, I record for two hours. Don’t get me wrong, I love what I do. But sometimes I need something different.

Once-in-a-while you need to break the mold. We all do. We need to do things that surprise us, take us out of the norm, and let us remember how fun it is to listen to our favorite music, smile with friends, and not take life too seriously for a little while.

California Roots is one of these places for me. It’s a place I can disconnect from routine, and plug-in to the things I love most. This is my sixth year going to the festival, and I’m more excited than ever.

Every single year is a fresh experience, and a chance to create new memories with my favorite people. So now that the festival is drawing near, it’s time to make a choice – it’s time that you ask yourself the ultimate question…

“When I’m 90 years old and looking back at this moment, will I be happy with the choice I made?”

Obviously we can’t always make the fun choices in life – there has to be balance. But to me, driving up the gorgeous California coast each year, listening to some of my favorite music in the world, and spending time with good friends at the historic venue that hosted the Monterey Pop Festival back in the sixties – there’s no other experience more worth my time, and every year it’s an exciting and different experience.

So what choice are you going to make? Will you stay home and wonder, or will I see you dancing underneath the vibrant Monterey stars this May? You never know, your decision just may change the rest of your life 🙂

Let us know what choice you’re going to make in the comments! Hope to see you there!