California Roots Still Strong in Reggae Scene

Dozens of bands rock festival at Monterey County Fairgrounds

Cali’s still got it when it comes to that reggae fusion first made popular by Sublime in the 90s. The first-ever California Roots Festival is proof of that. The concert organized by a Santa Cruz clothing company brought some of the most talented reggae and ska-style rockers in the country to the Monterey County Fairgrounds over the weekend. And, no shocker here, they’re all based in California.

Hundreds of fans came out to sway, skank and just plain rock out Saturday to dozens of bands.

Dirty Heads headlined the show. They recently made their mark on the late night circuit by appearing on Jimmy Kimmel Live. Their catchy song “Lay  Me Down” is sure to be a summer hit. Fremont’s own Rome Ramirez, who now performs with the surviving members of Sublime, even showed up at the festival to do the song. It was a real treat for fans.

Tribal Seeds got the crowd going. Their  sound was more authentically reggae than a lot of the other performers. Bob Marley’s influence is apparent especially in Beautiful, Mysterious.

I  also have to give it up to some bands closer to home.

Ukiah’s own Top Shelf  puts on a high energy show that ranges from light beachy riffs to some harder beats. The lead singer has a rich voice and maneuvers some fast, tongue-twisting lyrics. The whole band has a cool rock star presence.

San Jose-based The Holdup just makes me smile. The lead singer Mike Garmany reminds me of that kid from the movie Alpha Dog. The fresh-faced lead man raps/sings gangsta-style lyrics over island beats. He also wore his Ray Bans on stage even when the show moved indoors after city curfew. I can’t help but shake my booty to their fun sound. Anyone who watches feels invited to have a good time with them.

DOIN IT WELL: “Sublime with Rome” is headlining this year’s BFD show at the Shoreline Amphitheater Sunday. Tickets are on sale for $32.50. You can also check out Dirty Heads and the Holdup there for yourself.  Hopefully the California Roots festival comes around again next year. They make a donation to the Boys and Girls Club’s Music maker program, paving the way for more great music.

Marika Krause produces NBC Bay Area Mornings.  She works overnights, so she crams more fun and Bay Area adventures into the weekend than most people do in a week. You can catch her weekly blog right here on NBC Bay Area.

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