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MONTEREY, CA* — It’s hard to believe it’s already been a week since the beginning of The 5th Annual Cali Roots Festival, which packed a punch for fans and artists alike. Many returning artists noted how much the festival has grown in just five years, from a modest 1200 in ticket sales the first year to this past sold-out weekend, when about 10,000 people a day roamed the festival grounds for live sounds and good eats.

In addition to the growth, festival headliners Dan Sheehan and Jeff Monser added the historic Bowl stage to the lineup. Having the larger stage available allowed acts like Steel Pulse to rock out with their extensive eight-member line up, and bands like SOJA to give their homage to Jimi Hendrix (who’d once graced the very same stage) by setting a guitar on fire mid-song.

The festival featured over 40 acts from all different genres of rock and reggae performing on three very different stages to varying crowd dynamics. The Cali Roots stage was a perfect mid-size stage for people to catch bands that they may not have heard of before while grabbing a Sierra Nevada (the festival’s beer sponsor). Between the larger Bowl Stage and the Cali Roots stage was the Original stage. Due to its smaller, mini-amphitheater style setup, festival-goers could easily catch a set and relax in the grass of the scenic Monterey Fairgrounds.

Day 1 was front-loaded with major acts such as Cisco Adler, Passafire, Steel Pulse, and SOJA.

We sat down with The Simpkin Project at the beginning of the day. They discussed the direction of their newest studio album, recorded in their home studio in Orange County and potentially named Beam of Light. Recording in their home studio allowed them to follow through with a “new creative outlet,” they said.

Later in the day, Passafire entertained press in the conference room after wowing the audience with their performance on the Cali Roots stage. Hailing from the South, they had the most unique sound that weekend. Ted Bowne (vocals) and Will Kubley (bass) explained how they were more influenced by the local Georgia scene than the roots reggae many bands here attributed their style. The four-piece let on that they were starting work on new material over the summer before heading out on tour with 311, who would play the final day of California Roots (stay tuned for part three of our Roots Review).

Cisco Adler was the last to stop by the conference room and gave one of the most fruitful interviews of the weekend (other artists were more sedated). He mostly spoke about his upcoming record, Coastin’ (June 10th, Bananabeat), calling it “the newest me” and “me right now on a record.” Cisco raved about Roots: it is a “genre-ational experience… everyone here vibes to the same shit.”

Live painters also added to the performances; sometimes performers would contribute to the paintings, like David Omelas of Stranger did while onstage with Reeform. Scott Woodruff’s dog made an appearance during Stick Figure‘s set; if you missed Roots, you can catch them rocking the crowd like this again when they come to Berkeley’s Greek Theatre in August. Browse photos from an outstanding Day 1 below, and be sure to check back for Days 2 and 3 of the Festival.

*This summer, The B-Side reports from locations worldwide including Berlin, London, Los Angeles, and Toronto.

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