By: Martin Salzmann

I have a buddy from Middle School that I don’t get to see very often.  We used to play tag in the forest, ride bikes along the beach, and skateboard at the grocery store parking lot.  In High School we moved to different cities and we only got to hang out during holidays.  Every time I see him, our conversation continues as if it never left off, almost as if we were family.  Our common bond was friendship and our love for music, art, and surfing.

Walking into the Monterey Fairgrounds for California Roots, I pass through the camp area and am reminded that people, not always blood, make up your family.  Strangers are lounging in hammocks or beach chairs, laughing, eating, and playing games.  There are kids playing disc golf and adults tossing bean bags.  When Chef  “Papa” needs a can opener, immediately someone offers a hand.  Kids and adults have tables, BBQ, and their make-shift dining room setup for a birthday party.  Everyone is excited about the fact that Marley D. Williams from Rebelution just walked by and said “Hello!”

Some of the campers were star-struck.  Other’s have met him a few times before.  I have seen him handing out water bottles to fans and security in the front row at other concerts.  He shows up in the audience for other acts.  He is a big guy with a big heart, always lending a hug or photo-op.  I also ran into the guys form Iya Terra, walking over to a friend’s site.  These strangers meet every few months, but they treat each other like family.  These campgrounds are a fantastic representation of the Festival.

Everyone here comes from different backgrounds and has a different reason to travel to Monterey.  It’s both an escape and a way to congregate.  I used to listen to the Beastie Boys and rewind the tapes over and over until I had the lyrics memorized.  I was hooked when the Dirty Heads referenced doing this too.  When I meet strangers on the festival grounds, I always want to hear who they are excited to see first and what got them hooked on that band.  There is usually a good story and as we share that, we become part of the tribe of the Cali Roots movement.

It might be just for the weekend, but it’s good to see people bonding and coming together regardless of creed, ethnicity, or religion.  We are all misfits of a sort that may not fit into the standard cliques but much like the temporary campsites, we are family.  My hope is that we extend that sense of community and friendship to everyone we meet during and after the festival.