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Dan Sheehan, Cali Roots Promoter
By Terry Lanthier
Five years ago, the California Roots Music & Arts Festival was a one-day event headlined by Dirty Heads and Tribal Seeds. It has quickly grown into one of America’s largest reggae festivals, boasting audiences of over 13,000 each day of the three-day event. Cali Roots, as it’s known to fans, is organized and produced by founder Jeff Monser and his partner, veteran promoter and talent buyer Dan Sheehan. “I had only dreamed that we’d have a sold-out festival with such a strong lineup. It’s crazy – dreams really do come true.” said Monser to the Berkley B-Side.
Set in the scenic and historic Monterey County Fairgrounds, fans will see some of today’s top reggae acts on the same stage that was graced by Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin and The Who. Monser and Sheehan’s vision, known as ‘Cali Roots Culture’, seeks to make their festival an inclusive experience for all, presenting some of the biggest names in Reggae on the same stage as some of the newest. The arts aspect of the festival includes a variety of art forms, crafts, fashion and other endeavors, some created as festival goers watch, all presented against a backdrop of community and environmental consciousness. “It’s important that we live up to the art side of the festival.” says Dan Sheehan. The event also features an amazing array of wares offered by the 40 plus vendors selling works of art, body painting, food, jewelry, clothing and much more. The carnival-like atmosphere of fun, wonder and amazement is intentional; “Festivals are like adult Disneylands.” mused Dan Sheehan to the Berkley B-Side. Jeff and Dan may be right because for fans of great music, arts and culture the Cali Roots Festival is a dream come true and maybe, like your first visit to Disneyland, a memory for life!
The California Roots Music & Arts Festival will be held at the Monterey County Fairgrounds, Monterey, California on Friday, May 22 through Sunday, May 24, 2015.
IRIE. California Roots is considered one of the most important reggae festivals around, but it’s more than that. Can you tell me about the vibe, what goes on behind the music?
Dan Sheehan. One thing a lot of people get from the festival, it’s almost like being at a New Year’s party. They come through our gates and are reunited with family and friends and are also meeting new family and friends; it’s got a really good tribal, communal ohana vibe.
IRIE. Nice. Are there a lot of children there Dan?
Dan Sheehan. We don’t have a tremendous amount, but there’s definitely a lot of kids there. This year we’re doing a special thing at our info booth. When parents bring their kids in, they check in at our info booth and we give them a wrist band that has the parents’ information on it, so if the child gets lost we can reunite them with their parents. Again, it’s a tribal thing and we’re hoping that keeps resonating.