Dan Sheehan, the Co-Owner, Producer & Talent Buyer of the largest reggae festival in the United States, California Roots Music & Arts Festival, participated in a Ask Me Anything session on Reddit. We found some interesting questions, replies & insight, most of which we spotlight in our recap.
Cali-Roots was started by Jeff Monser in 2010 when he put on a 1 day music festival that included Dirty Heads as the headliner. The Dirty Heads were riding the wave of their newly released hit single “Lay Me Down,” featuring Rome Ramirez of Sublime with Rome. The following year, Dan Sheehan came on as a talent buyer where we have only seen the trajectory of the festival take flight with their impact, influence and movement.
The 10th Cali Roots Festival, referred to as Cali Roots X, will take place May 24th-26th, 2019.
Click HERE for ticket & Line-Up information.
Dan Sheehan’s AMA Reddit Recap:
A lot of questions came pouring in on whether or not certain artists would be playing at this years Cali Roots to which Dan was quite revealing. On the question of Kabaka Pyramid and Jesse Royal, Dan revealed: “Huge fan of both artists. Chances are pretty good they will be at Cali Roots X.”
Another question came up regarding when the next Artist Announcement for Cali Roots X will be to which Dan said “Early December.” Asked if Dirty Heads, Pepper, SOJA, Rebelution, and Slightly Stoopid would be playing at Cali Roots X, Dan teased: “Our next announcement will make you happy.”
Dan mentioned that he wanted to “book more Latin artists this year. Its slightly challenging with some of the artist and getting them up from Mexico and South America.”
One of our favorite exchanges was if he has had to blacklist any band, to which Dan revealed: “Not really blacklist…more of a time out. We once caught a band selling their guest list tickets on Craigslist.”
Q. What is your process in putting together a line up you and your team are proud of?
Dan: “It’s a year-round process for us. After every festival, we take a survey from the ticket buyers and ask them who they want to see. We process those request and create a master line up sheet that we then work off of. I then go through and start building out our “dream line up” taking into consideration on what artist have played the festival and what artist are putting out new music leading into the festival. I then vibe on the layout of the days for a couple weeks and then I start submitting offers. I usually do 3 rounds of offers to start…starting with the top of the line up, first. Most times everything starts falling into place.”
Q. What do you do as a talent buyer to prevent the festival lineup from getting too repetitive and stale?
Dan: “Yes, we only have a small headline pool to pull from for Cali Roots which is why we have done what we can do create new headliners. like Iration last year and Stick Figure this year. It’s very important for the health of this scene that more artists step up to headlining Cali Roots. Building the line up below the headliners is the funnest part of the line up process for Cali Roots. We look at artists that are making waves outside of our scene like a Tash Sultana and being able to throw in some classic hip hop like Cypress Hill. The thought on the line up getting stale is in my head every day…its what keeps me up at night sometimes, well most times. I feel its the way the days are laid out that keeps the line up fresh. Its part of the experience seeing certain acts play on the same day.”
Avoiding a repetitive line-up has to be difficult as so many factors come into play with the timing, budget & back door politics that accompany a now high demanding festival towed with higher expectations.
— Sublime with Rome Will Not Be At Cali Roots X —
One question came up in asking if Sublime With Rome would be playing at this year’s Cali-Roots to which Dan replies: “Huge fan of Sublime but Sublime with Rome will not be at Cali Roots X.”
Sublime with Rome has never played at any Cali Roots events. Cali Roots has hosted every major headlining reggae-rock band in the US with risings artists from all around the world, most of which have played most if not multiple times during the last 9 festivals. None of those bands include Sublime with Rome.
Dan admits to being a fan of Sublime, but he did not say he was a fan of Sublime with Rome. He doesn’t have to be and a lot of reggae-rock fans aren’t. SWR’s numbers, however, would show a lot of fans do like and follow SWR. When we reached out to Sublime with Rome, they said that they’ve never been offered to play at Cali Roots, but have never submitted a request either. If you’re trying to avoid a stale line-up and have never booked Sublime with Rome by now, then I’m guessing it’s because you don’t want to. Anythings possible, but Dan’s answer seemed telling.
Q. What differentiates your festival from all the other ones out there? Why does it feel like your festival is often imitated but never replicated?
Dan: “When you build and create something special like Cali Roots and others see the success of it they will want to try and imitate it. What I feel others that are imitating what we are doing are missing, is the ‘soul’ of the festival. You can put all the bands on a poster and have a line up like ours, but it does not have the Cali Roots energy and vibes that make Cali Roots what it is.”
Awesome exchange. When fans see the same line-up at other festivals, they have a certain expectation set by Cali Roots for those same similar line-ups to carry the same energy and sense of community that may have been first introduced to them over a Cali Roots weekend. That’s not always the case and reaffirms that Cali Roots has been able to build something quite special with its feeling of community around art and music.
You can read Dan Sheehan’s AMA exchange in full at Reddit by clicking HERE!
Watch: California Roots – “Its a Movement” (Music by Trevor Hall)