By: Brendan Clemente

Stepping into the California Roots Music and Arts Festival each year is a tradition my wife and I cherish. For the past seven years on Memorial Day weekend, we’ve traveled to Monterey together to witness and take part in the magic that is Cali Roots; spectacular live music, a peaceful, fun environment, and the beautiful experience of sharing in boundless happiness with tens of thousands of people from all over the world (not to mention, it’s the place we started falling in love).

The festival has grown tremendously since its inception ten years ago, and is widely acknowledged as an epicenter of the reggae rock scene. Each year concert-goers and bands alike are always thoroughly impressed, not just by the incredibly fun event itself, but by the remarkable attention to detail, and how smoothly every aspect of the festival flows. There’s a very special, uplifting energy here, and that doesn’t happen by accident.

It’s no secret that the festival comes together so exquisitely each year because of the dedicated, talented staff, as they combine forces with with some of the best musicians and artists in the world. However, one of the most important and often overlooked characteristics of the festival is how many of the extraordinary people involved in making it happen are women.

Women are such an incredibly fundamental part of the vibe we all feel at Cali Roots, and while California Roots has always been proud to act as an example of a place where talented people of all genders, races, and backgrounds are involved in the success of the festival, we wanted to take the opportunity to honor and highlight the women of the festival. I had the pleasure of chatting with some of the wonderful women who make this festival such a huge success each year, and it was nothing short of inspiring hearing what they had to say about Cali Roots.

Beebs – Musician, Artist, and MC

Beebs first played the festival with her band Beebs and Her Money Makers to finish out a big 2-month tour in 2015. She’s since been deeply involved with the festival on multiple levels, and has taken active roles as a performer, MC, and interviewer. This year she’ll be playing a special acoustic set at the festival.

“I remember our first time arriving at the festival – every staff member we encountered was mind-blowingly sweet and helpful, every security guard had a smile, and all of the festival attendees had a family vibe. I’d never experienced such a well-rounded, effortless vibration at a festival, and it really left an impact on me.

I feel very blessed to be a part of the Cali Roots family. I have witnessed firsthand the amount of care and attention to detail that goes into everything, and it’s those little things that make all the difference in the world. Cali Roots will forever be a movement because it truly moves with its people.”

Ana Elizabeth – Artist Relations Manager

Ana is the Artist Relations Manager for the festival, meaning she coordinates and covers all aspects of the services delivered to artists throughout the weekend. She works closely for months with Dan Sheehan (festival co-founder), Amy Sheehan (the festival’s operations manager), and David Claytor, to ensure that all goes as smoothly as possible for the artists, from the moment they reach Monterey until they leave the festival.

Her team is the biggest in production, and includes hospitality, transportation, artist liaisons, and artist check-ins. Any need that an artist has throughout their weekend at the festival ultimately goes through Ana.

“I love providing a seamless experience for the artists and tour managers – there’s nothing like hearing one of them say it’s the best festival experience they’ve ever had. The mutual feeling of respect, and honoring what each of us does no matter what, makes this one of the best festivals to work for. I love being able to bring my A game, and being seen and appreciated for that.”

The Haven Art Sisters – Live Painters and Interactive Artists at California Roots

The Haven Art Sisters have been an integral part of Cali Roots since the very beginning. When you see the live painters on stage painting incredible masterpieces next to the bands performing, you can thank the Haven Sisters for their important contribution to the festival. They believed in showcasing the power and inspiration of combined art forms, and saw to it that live painting became a beautiful part of almost every show.

“Cali Roots has been an incredible platform – the festival catapulted our live painting world to a level we couldn’t have imagined before. Being able to see it grow from the first festival ever, to now celebrating ten years, has been a huge blessing in our lives, and we are so honored to be a part of this movement.

It’s amazing how it feels each year to have the opportunity to inspire so many people, and see and hear all the people whose lives have been positively impacted by music and art. It’s special to us to take the time to have conversations with people at the festival, and hear about their experiences. Our favorite conversation is when people tell us, “When you walk through that gate you’re home; it doesn’t matter where you grew up – we’re all family here.”

Kathryn Hovis – Production Office Manager

Kathryn Hovis is the Production Office Manager, meaning she’s pretty much the first person everyone on the team sees when they arrive at the festival. She refers to herself as the “friendly funnel” of the festival – constantly funneling people, problems, and situations to the correct person or team who will be able to take care of them.

“Hands down, my favorite thing about Cali Roots is the people I get to work beside. Jeff, Dan, and Amy have done an amazing job building such a strong crew of humans, that not only all work well together, but genuinely love being around each other.

It’s definitely challenging to create a family atmosphere in any work environment, but that’s the beautiful thing about Cali roots – it’s not synthetically created – it’s all organic. The relationships that have been built through the festival travel far beyond the perimeters of the fairgrounds, and extend well past the event itself; these are genuine friendships that last year-round.”

These extraordinary women only represent a fraction of the many women who come together to make California Roots one of the most successful and well-produced festivals in the world. They’re an inspiring, hard-working, incredible team of individuals, and seeing them lift each other and everyone else up is a beautiful thing to witness.

California Roots will forever be a special place to my wife and I, as well as so many others, and I sincerely hope this article will remind everyone who reads it to think about the strong, brilliant women that help bring it all together. A huge thank you to the women who make Cali Roots the special experience it is – from the bands, to the artists, to the staff, to the vendors, to the fans. We appreciate you!