As the summer season began to wane in Southern California, reggae punk rock veterans Gorgeous hosted a one-day music festival at Ventura Fairgrounds, courtesy of CBF productions. The same company that kept live music going during the pandemic by producing two seasons of the Concerts In Your Car series has now returned to its original mission of creating music and food festivals. Following in the footsteps of the two-day sold-out Tequila festival which had been a great success a month earlier, the September Reggae Festival drew nearly 10,000 people to the one-day celebration.
Sublime made a stopover on her very successful summer tour with their tour partner’s Dirty Heads and Hirie. But the event at Ventura on Surfers Point Beach was special, adding local bands of the genre including The Free Love Project and Rey Fresco. The result was a one-day festival saturated with summer sunshine, locally brewed beer and wine, and beach-style snack food.
The Free Love Project opened the show with a fiery hour-long set. The group was founded by longtime maestro Ventura Reggae and Ska Darren “Zorba” Cruz. Cruz has performed in successful regional bands, including Irie Ites, SkaDaddyZ, and Strand Quentin, since the 1980s. The musician formed FLP during the pandemic to collaborate with local musicians sharing a love for the Reggae genre. Cruz wrote a few songs and advertised them on local social media. The response has been overwhelming with musicians keen to take part in records and live performances including members of bands like Stalag 13, I Decline, Ill Repute, Raging Arb, Night Demon, The Question, members of Rising Son. , All A Blur, Bobby Campbell and his brothers Brandon Cruz and Dalton Cruz. The Cruz group gathered for the concert at the Ventura exhibition center presented an enormous talent with no less than ten seasoned artists on stage. Three generations of local residents, many of them from the surfing community, danced to the hypnotic beat.
An exceptional set then came from another local group, Rey Fresco, which recently reformed after a long hiatus. Rey Fresco is an American band from Ventura, California with an eclectic mix of rock, reggae, world, soul and Latin music. It uniquely presents a Veracruz harp as one of their main instruments. Lead vocalist Roger Keiaho led the group with his energetic trance-dancing style while local surfboard shaper and drummer Andrew Jones set a steady pace. He was backed in the rhythm section by funk-inspired bassist Shawn Echevarria. Xocoyotzin “Xoco” Moraza brought a unique touch to the mix with his harp playing. The people of Southern California have known how special this group has been for a long time, and their performance at Surfer Point did not disappoint.
As the long summer sun began to wane and the fairground almost filled to capacity, the nationwide tour portion of the festival took over with a sensational performance from the Philippines-born Hawaiian reggae singer HIRIE, and his soul accompaniment group. The radiant singer wowed the crowd with her hits like “Sensi Boy”, “She Go”, “Don’t Take My Ganja” and “Sun And Shine”. The sometimes shy singer also added a mix of covers with Matisyahu’s “One Day”. His phenomenal backing band had no problem merging many genres into their funk-laden Reggae style.
As the cool twilight air began to set in and the massive stage lit up in a co-star of a multimedia extravaganza, Dirty Heads took the stage amid a colossal roar from their overwhelming crowd. in addition tight. The band were ready to play, beaming with smiles and emanating energy from the moment they took the stage. One of the highlights of Twilight was when Rome joined Dirty Heads on stage for “Lay Me Down,” a song they recorded in 2008 with Rome Ramirez. The euphoric crowd sang to the band’s best-known party anthems, such as “Oxygen”, “Believe” and “Sweet Summer”.
Sublime triumphed on stage for the title as the stars began to fill the clear summer night sky. The large crowd crowded closer and closer to the stage. The band looked tight and disciplined, delving into their catalog of well-known tracks. Ironically, the band’s current iteration is more popular than the original band that wrote the band’s biggest hits when Bradley Nowell was still alive and leading the band. Since then, original bassist Eric Wilson has kept the band alive with drummer Carlos Verdugo and new vocalist / guitarist Rome Ramirez. The group’s latest release produced three well-received albums. Sublime with the leader of Rome, Rome Ramirez, dazzled the crowd with a sound full of bass that breaks the ears. The band as a whole, including the touring musicians, fitted in perfectly. Eric Wilson, the only remaining member of the original group, remained pretty much stoic throughout his performance.
On the other hand, other members of the group provide the young and courageous energy associated with the first Sublime music. The band performed a 90-minute set, closing the 10-hour marathon festival with two of Sublime’s iconic songs, “What I Got” and “Santaria”. Many in the crowd were still singing on the way back to the parking lot.
Discover more photos: Sublime | Dirty heads | HIRIE | Rey Fresco