Cali Vibes, quickly becoming known as one of the largest reggae-focused events in America, allowed cannabis consumption on-site over the past weekend—one of the latest large events to do so, with an estimated 75,000 in attendance.
Presented by Goldenvoice, AEG and sponsor Weedmaps, Cali Vibes features the top names in reggae including some unexpected surprises. The bill included the Marley brothers featuring siblings Ziggy, Stephen, Damian, Ky-Mani and Julian, as well as Rebelution, Slightly Stoopid, Dirty Heads, Sublime with Rome, Stick Figure, Sean Paul, Shaggy and a special performance by Wu-Tang Clan. They were joined by Pepper, Atmosphere, Artikal Sound System, Iration, DENM, Tropidelic, The Elovators, Don Carlos and so on.
Cali Vibes was held at Marina Green Park in Long Beach, California February 4-6. It was also livestreamed live via emusiclive.com. It’s a first-year brand new festival, allowing cannabis inside.
“As the official cannabis partner for Cali Vibes this year, Weedmaps had the opportunity to bring awareness to some beloved SoCal brands in the space throughout Cannabis Village”, Juanjo Feijoo, CMO and COO at Weedmaps, told High Times. “We are always looking for creative ways to engage with the cannabis community, and were delighted to be able to work with AEG and the Cali Vibes team to create a destination for consumers to learn about cannabis and cannabis brands safely while having fun. We can’t wait to continue to evolve this concept and bring it to more and more venues and festivals across the U.S.”
Less alcohol and more cannabis appeared to have an overall positive impact on the crowd. Weedmaps unveiled a cannabis-themed Weedmaps Village, a dedicated space featuring California’s top cannabis and accessory brands such as The Medicine Woman, Select, ZIG ZAG, Dripp Extracts, Wafers, Papa’s Herb, Buddies, Clone Guy and DIME.
Guests were entranced with live urban art and interactive games, such as the “Flowers Are Not A Crime” art installation, created by Los Angeles-based artist, Laurie Shapiro, in collaboration with Weedmaps. The title of the installation was chosen to bring awareness to the fact that while cannabis markets continue to emerge and people profit, there are still over 40,000 people—disproportionately minorities—behind bars for nonviolent cannabis-related charges. People who downloaded the Weedmaps app could order from The Medicine Woman directly from the app and collect it from an off-site location.
Humboldt Seed Co. was busy at work, informing festival goers about the importance of terpenes and genetic transparency. Meanwhile, Clone Guy offered living clones, with their roots sheltered in plastic globes, providing for a surreal experience in legality. Living plants were practically everywhere in the vendor area.
The Koi CBD stage featured some of the largest acts, and The Greens presented by Koi CBD was located near Weedmaps Village. The Beach Club and VIP Lounge provided additional packages. Goldenvoice and Delicious Vinyl Island collaborated to present the BoomYard stage at Cali Vibes, which will showcase a slew of talent from Jamaica, including Mr. Vegas, Yaadcore, Walshy Fire, Teejay, Naomi Cowan and more. This is the place you went if you wanted to hear the cuts of dub, dancehall, raggamuffin, toasting and other sounds of Jamaica.
We were impressed at Method Man’s control over the audience during Wu-Tang’s performance, which was both the most rowdy and energetic. Stick Figure, on the other hand, wowed the crowd with pyrotechnics.
High Times caught up with several bands that performed at Cali Vibes.
“Kalea Wassman of Pepper and from the Big Island of Hawaii here—more importantly from the Big Island of Hawaii,” Wassman told High Times. “It’s so wonderful to know that with these kinds of events, opening up and being successful like it is now, gives us so much momentum to go into the next festivals that we get to do. This is just a beautiful situation after what we’ve gone through over the past few years. This is a festival filled with hope, because honestly, a lot of people have not been able to gather in this kind of sense with the community that this genre has.”
Wassman, who is vocalist, said to expect a lot of presence from LAW Records—the band’s own record label. “It’s fantastic where we get to envelope these younger acts and help them succeed in the world of music,” he said. “They’re going to be sprinkled all through the [upcoming new material].”
“This is a festival filled with hope, because honestly, a lot of people have not been able to gather in this kind of sense with the community that this genre has.” – Kaleo Wassman
Wassman reflected on Pepper’s work ethic, in combination with cannabis. “Honestly, I find it so much more rewarding at this point in my life to do the healthy approach to it, Wassman said. “What I mean by that is allowing myself to fall into the now, and not skipping over any moment that I get to be onstage, because it has been awhile since we have been onstage. That is a beautiful lesson to learn, because when you go town to town, day after day, night after night, you’re very susceptible to losing that connection with each show. What this has taught us now is that everything.” Pepper is set to release new material in 2023 after a giant summer tour that is yet-to-be-announced.
Sublime with Rome drew a large crowd, per usual, especially considering that the festival took place in Long Beach. “We have a freestyle that we’re jamming that’s kind of inspired by some new stuff,” Ramirez told High Times. “And we’re playing stuff we’ve never played, like we have Hirie coming up for a song, and we’re doing some stuff we haven’t played out here. It will be different shit tonight for sure.”
“We’ve been working on some new music,” – Rome Ramirez.
“We’ve been working on some new music,” Ramirez said. “We’re going into the studio, I think in June, to start to put together some of the tracks we’ve been working on. And hopefully we’ll be putting out a record by next year. We are just kind of focusing on the songs and trying to get all of the writing done.”
Ramirez admitted that Long Beach may not be the most popular destination in Southern California, “but it’s one of the most important in my eyes, because it’s transcended itself into sound in some of the other artists and other genres and artists,” he said.
Ramirez revealed that he’s been collaborating with Duddy from the Dirty Heads, both on music and CBD/THCa projects with small-batch companies. A lot of people they know only smoke weed, so they’re not getting any CBD. Both artists have experienced problems due to skating and/or baseball, Ramirez said. “So I said, lets put together some topicals and type of CBD that we can fuck with ourselves.”
Ramirez said details are scarce, but that it’s called Good Times Wellness, but done differently than the over-marketing of typical brands, “because everything now is so sleek and modern.”
The Ries Brothers—hailing from Clearwater, Florida—blend rock, blues, funk and reggae for a highly sophisticated sound with an emphasis on the craft of songwriting. “We played a brand new song called ‘Cornerstone’ and we’re about to go into the studio to record a new album,” Kevin told High Times. “That will be on it.”
The Ries Brothers performed a few live sets for Sugarshack Sessions—a popular, highly intimate digital music series filmed and recorded beneath palm trees in Bonita Springs, Florida.
“We’re really big on the Last Prisoner Project. If you’re in jail for a nonviolent cannabis charge, people get arrested with three grams and they’re put into jail—sometimes for years.” – The Ries Brothers
“Sugarshack is fantastic, from our home state of Florida, and the work they do is fantastic,” Charlie, who is the older brother, told High Times. “It’s such a great relationship that the bands have with them. Because they don’t charge the bands to shoot them. It’s a mutual project. We’ve gone down to their compound to do two sessions, and we just released one that we did from Reggae Rise Up that we did a three-song set. We had members of Stick Figure, Iration, Passafire and Tropidelic during the set. It was awesome.”
Kevin mentioned that he produces a lot of his own material. “I do a solo project called Echoing Dream,” he said. “And it’s kind of more reggae-dub. And I had the idea of taking back the song. It started with a bass line and drum beat. It was kind of a reggae idea for my solo project. I took out the skanks and everything—just keeping the drum and bass—and that turned into Charlie freestyling over it. And I always had the idea of making a remix like that. We had the idea of getting a bunch of artists in the scene together. Hitting up the DMs.”
Last year, the brothers released a reggae remix of their single “Take It Back,” featuring Julian Marley, as well as E.N Young, Kash’d Out, Gary Dread of The Movement, Bumpin Uglies, Little Stranger and Jaime Hinckson.
“The cool thing about it was, it worked out with the verses they sent us in the order that it ended up being,” Charlie explained. “Gary Dread was the first to say he was in, then it kind of steamrolled from there. Then eventually getting up to Julian. Mad props to our manager David [Parnes] here.”
“The track was almost done, we didn’t think Julian was going to be on it,” Kevin said. “The night before we had to submit it to mixing, Julian sent us his parts. I quickly mixed it, and am so stoked about having him on track.”
The Ries Brothers are not only interested in cannabis consumption, but cannabis reform that begins with undoing the wrongs from the War on Drugs—as evident in their continual support for organizations such as the Last Prisoner Project.
“We’re really big on the Last Prisoner Project,” Kevin said. “If you’re in jail for a nonviolent cannabis charge, people get arrested with three grams and they’re put into jail—sometimes for years. So the Last Prisoner Project helps people get out of jail for [inhumane prison sentences] for small amounts of weed. They’re doing a lot for the community, so that’s important to us.”
“I couldn’t be more excited to be on this festival bill.” – DENM
DENM’s debut full-length Slum Beach Denny was frequently included in top 10 reggae lists of 2021 as one of the hottest new albums of the year. It played like the soundtrack of summer. DENM also co-wrote “Rage” with Jared Watson of the Dirty Heads, featuring Travis Barker and Aimee Interrupter from the Interrupters.
“I couldn’t be more excited to be on this festival bill…” DENM told High Times just before his pivotal performance. “I’m just trippin’ that I get to play AND see the Marley brothers and Wu-Tang and all these legends—I’m just trippin’.”
In regular fashion, Dirty Heads showed up as one of the festival’s most popular bands. Coming from neighboring Huntington Beach, they weren’t very far from home in the first place. “The vibes are high,” vocalist Jared Watson from the Dirty Heads told High Times. “Wu-Tang Clan is playing right now. It’s a home show. I live 20 minutes from here.”
Duddy, who is also a vocalist along with Watson, told High Times that fans won’t hear any unheard new music, “but we will be performing ‘Rage’ tonight, which is one of our newest singles, which we put out not too long ago. Working with a lot of new music right now. We’ve got a new album in the works, but not playing anything new tonight.”
For some, “Rage” seemed like a flashback to the days of punk and ska, such as Operation Ivy.
“We wrote it with DENM,” Watson said. “Me and DENM were in the studio, just writing for Dirty Heads, and we wrote it with him, and when I heard it come together, I said—we’ve got to get Aimee [Allen]. I got the same vibes—this is kind of old school like Operation Ivy. I immediately thought of Aimee from The Interrupters, and they were working with Barker at the time. So that whole song came together in like one night. I texted Aimee, and she said she was in. I asked her, ‘Can you text Travis?’ ‘Sure.’ And an hour later, it was like ‘Travis is in and we’ll do it like tomorrow.’”
“I don’t know if we can release the names of the bands [on our new material] yet, but it’s going to be awesome.” – Duddy
Duddy confirmed the new cannabis and CBD project in the works with Ramirez. “It’s called Good Times Wellness. It’s a collab we’re doing with Consequence. It’s a CBD line and we are going to to small batch with actual marijuana as well. Not just CBD. It’s going to be a cool boutique, small batch CBD and marijuana line.”
Watson explained that if you dig around online, you can probably find some new Dirty Heads tracks. “I leaked a new song on a livestream I did,” he said. “There’s a song called ‘Visions’ and a song called ‘Oxygen’ that we have. The guy that produced those two records is producing the whole entire record. So we’re only working with one producer, and his name is Ryan Ogren. You’ll love him; he’s a close friend of ours. If you like ‘Oxygen’ and ‘Visions,’ you’re going to be stoked because we have songs like that on there. We have a few really, really broken down acoustic songs like that you’d hear on the acoustic album that we did. And then we have the majority of it is that kind of straight-down-the-pipe Dirty Heads. Some songs are more leaning hip-hop, and some are more highly reggae-influenced.”
“As of now, I think it’s going to be the most solid album that we’ve ever put out,” he said.
Watson added that the band just saw the soft dates for the summer tour and lineup for who they’re going out with on the tour. “It’s stacked.”
Duddy added, “I don’t know if we can release the names of the bands yet, but it’s going to be awesome.”
“The bands were going on tour with, that are at this show,” he said. “They’re the bigger names that played this weekend that we’re going to be on tour with.”
Duddy explained that performing in Long Beach, which is just minutes away from home, is like having a home show.