If the sun seems to be shining brighter and the wind seems to be freely flowing, it’s because it’s time for the second annual Cali Roots: The Carolina Sessions. The California Roots Music and Art Festival began five years ago in Monterey, California. Since, the entrancing celebration has branched out to the East Coast.
With nearly 20 bands performing in only two days, music will permeate Battleship Park this weekend. Besides a select few, these bands do not have big record labels. Their fans have come to them organically, rather than having been spoon-fed their music through radio and television.
Hailing from Santa Barbara, California, Rebelution will be among the weekend’s headliners. Rebelution began jamming together after meeting a decade ago. Eric Rachmany (guitarist and lead-vocalist), Marley D. Williams (bass), Rory Cary (keys), and Wesley Finlet (drums) seamlessly meld rock and reggae.
“When our band started, none of us really knew what we were doing,” Rachmany admits. “We all loved music and obviously loved reggae, but we had no idea about sound, what to use, or how to feel comfortable while singing. But everyday we played together, [and] we
Their unique sound comes with a signature blend of Bob Marley’s soulful reggae mixed with laid back rock. For three years Rebelution played intimate venues along the West Coast and drew fans in with their raw, vivacious live performances. Though they previously had released a self-titled EP, it wasn’t until 2007 they entered the recording studio and began laying down their tracks for a full-length album. Melodies poured out and resulted in their breakthrough album,”Courage to Grow.” The album soldified their cult following and was chosen as the iTunes Editor’s Choice for Best Reggae Album of 2007.
Now, the band boasts three additional records—“Bright Side of Life,” “Peace of Mind,” and “Count Me In.” Beginning with “Peace of Mind” in 2009, they released their records on their own label, 87 Music.
“For the most part, the reggae from this country has to be independent,” Rachmany describes. “Here in the U.S. [it] isn’t a mainstream type of music, so it is cool to see that it is still growing organically by word of mouth and friends and family that are spreading it across the country.”
Rebelution is set on telling stories about real life: the ups, the downs and the power of unity. All their tracks bring in mellow rhythms that drip from their sound, and bold lyrics that reveal a hefty helping of socially conscious content.
“If you look at a lot of mainstream music, it has a lot of terrible lyrical content,” Rachmany comments. “But all of the bands [at Cali Roots] are using their words and stories in a positive manner.
Their song “Wake-Up Call” (“Bright Side of Life”) proclaims: “This goes out to the wealthy homes/That under the moonlight there’s a road/To a place for the struggling/Where people treat you like a human being/Free of racism and other things/Free from money and the imagery/Why oh why has it come to be?”
Though they jump at the chance to express their politcal views, Rebelution also have a softer side, which comes laden in the serene, picturesque ideas of Southern California. They channel positive energy with “Sky is the Limit,” from their 2012 album, “Peace of Mind.” It enlightens on the power of thought:
“There’s nothing like a clear peace of mind/To overcome the hardships in life/To sort out the wrong from the right/Someone’s in line, but they can’t get me down.”
They’ve showcased their songwriting skills at big-name music events, such as Bonnaroo, Outside Lands Music and Arts Festival, Glastonbury Festival, Lollapalooza, Hangout Music Festival, and Austin City Limits. Though Rebelution is high-octane onstage, they bring that same energy to recording sessions. Thier latest album, “Count Me In,” features contributions by legendary reggae artists Don Carlos and Collie Buddz. It constituted the band’s third consecutive No. 1 album on the Billboard Reggae chart.
“For all our albums we have tried to be comfortable and have fun,” Rachmany tells. “I think on our last album [‘Count Me In’] we really felt comfortable, and a lot of it had to do with experience.”
With a slew of records and an indepndent label under their belt, Rebelution still shows no signs of stopping. “Honestly, I still feel like our best is yet to come,” Rachmany says.
Currently, the band is touring in support of “Count Me In,” alongside Iration and Stick Figure—each of whom will play this weekend. Among other top-billed acts are Bootz Underground and reggae rapping legend Matisyahu. A full list of performances and times can be found at www.calirootscarolina.com.
Aside from its sonic splendor, Cali Roots: The Carolina Sessions will feature food for all diets, including vegan and vegetarian. Beer, wine and other beverages will be available for purchase. Attendees will recieve $1 off their pints by purchasing a reusable, eco-friendly Klean Kanteen glass at the merchandise station. Live painters will be scattered throughout all weekend long.
“[Cali Roots] is a bunch of great friends coming together, so it feels like some huge family-run operation,” Rachmany says. “We are going to be there Saturday for our show, but we are definitely going to stick around and enjoy all the music and events going on the rest of the weekend.”
California Roots: The Carolina Sessions
Battleship Park, 1 Battleship Rd NE
Saturday, September 13th and Sunday, September 14th, 10 a.m.