One Love Reggae Festival Day 1: Tale from the Photo Pit

slightly stoopid

Slightly Stoopid at One Love Cali Reggae Fest Day 1; photo Andy Ortega

It was quite the adventure getting into the One Love Cali Reggae Fest at the Queen Mary in Long Beach on opening night. It was raining the entire evening, which is pretty special for Southern California, and I’m guessing it wasn’t expected by the promoters – or anybody else. Either way, it didn’t stop attendees from having an experience that had everyone feeling “irie”.

Once I made my way through the line at the entrance, I breathed a deep sigh of relief and immediately had the sensation of pure relaxation. Then I realized that along with the deep sigh of relief, there were massive clouds of smoke that also may have helped me relax a bit as I walked past a group of concert goers with dreadlocks. The ganja was flowing freely everywhere I looked.

There were two stages at this massive event. There was the main stage, which was labeled the “One Love” stage on the One Love Cali Fest website and there was the second stage labeled the “Queen Mary” stage.

The Aggrolites were just starting at the second stage and to my surprise, it wasn’t very crowded. I say that because there were people everywhere else and later I saw that a majority of people were at the main stage. They sure missed out because there was some good dancing at The Aggrolites’ performance. People were singing along and cheering. It was more like a wild party.

The Aggrolites

The Aggrolites at One Love Cali Reggae Fest Day 1; photo Andy Ortega

After that, Fishbone played on the same stage. Yeah, Fishbone is playing at this reggae fest and they do have a reggae-esque sound but I kept thinking, “Wait, is this reggae?” Fishbone fans know that they have a unique style and they’ve changed over the years from ska to funk to rock. I guess you could say they do “skunk rock”?

Next, I got the munchies. The One Love Cali Reggae Fest was the best place to be for that. I was tempted to get something from the Pink Taco Food Truck or Chronic Tacos but instead went for a plain teriyaki bowl from some place that didn’t have such a creative name.

As I headed to the main stage, I came around the corner and saw a sea of people ahead of me. These crazy, fun-loving, hippies did not care one bit about the rain, the mud, or the stinky greenish haze.

SOJA was playing as I entered the photo pit in front of the main stage. They released their first album, Peace in a Time of War, in 2002 and have four more albums after that so they’ve been around the block a bit.

The headlining band that night on the main stage was Slightly Stoopid. I don’t mean that in a negative way, they’re actually

SOJA

SOJA at One Love Cali Reggae Fest Day 1; photo Andy Ortega

awesome and that’s their real band name. Maybe they were at a previous One Love concert in the middle of that thick haze

when they thought of the name, but they’re rad and the roar of the crowd as they walked out proves it. Slightly Stoopid offers a fusion of ska, metal, punk, hip-hop and funk. I’m not going to try to name their style like I did with Fishbone – you get the idea. I can tell you that anyone born and raised in California is familiar with this style.

At the end of the night, I found myself happy and feeling right at home here on this rainy SoCal evening, right next to the Queen Mary and with all my reggae brothas and sistas!

Temper Trap: A Tale From The Photo Pit

Temper Trap

Temper Trap at the Observatory; photo Andy Ortega

There have been times at The Observatory in Santa Ana where I could barely make it through the crowd of concert goers. This time, while it was still mostly full, I was able to move around fairly comfortably for the Temper Trap concert.

I got the sense that there were many fans of the opener, Coast Modern, in the audience, as well. During their last song, I could see and hear people singing along to their laid back tunes such as “Hollow Life”. Coast Modern was a great warm-up before the main show.

The lights were dimmed down a notch as Dougy Mandagi and the rest of the Temper Trap band walked onto the stage. They opened with “Thick As Thieves”, the title track from their latest album and closed with “Sweet Disposition” from their 2009 album, Conditions.

However, as the show progressed, the lights didn’t get much brighter. I think it’s safe to say that they didn’t want bright, or really any lights. My camera was a little sad about that because light is his friend but I was still able to get some decent shots.

Wyatt Blair: A Tale From The Photo Pit

Wyatt Blair

Wyatt Blair played The Wayfarer Jul 31; photo Andy Ortega

When Wyatt Blair jumped onto the stage at The Wayfarer in Costa Mesa, I admit, I had to pause for a minute in shock. Wyatt Blair was the real deal. My 80’s childhood began to flash before my eyes. Was he really wearing one of those long dangling silver earrings on his left ear? You know, the ones all the cool class of 1987 kids wore? Yes, it was really happening and it was totally awesome.

The Wayfarer was previously known as Detroit Bar until 2014 when it changed owners and its name. It was my first time at The Wayfarer since the change. As I walked in, I noticed that they removed some walls which made it feel more spacious. They definitely made some great improvements that turned this venue into a modern, trendy, live music bar.

Wyatt Blair

Wyatt Blair played The Wayfarer Jul 31; photo Andy Ortega

There isn’t a photo pit at this venue, which means that you’ll need to get there early if you want to get close-up photos or you’ll need to squeeze through the crowd as best as you can. The lighting here has been upgraded and it’s now top notch. I can name a few concert venues that don’t compare to The Wayfarer’s lights. For photography, this means I can lower my ISO settings and increase my shutter speed for more crisp, colorful shots.

Wyatt Blair’s music has been compared to the sound of the movie Top Guns’ soundtrack. That was the exact impression I had as they started their set. The band included a guitarist, a bass guitarist and of course, a keyboardist. Can’t leave out those synths, sound effects and electronic drums in an 80’s band, right? The entire band was clad in 80’s-style pastel colors and jean jackets, with the female bass guitarist donning a side ponytail.

The Griswold’s Energetic Show Viewed Through A Lens

Chris Whitehall The Griswolds

Chris Whitehall (The Griswolds) at The Observatory Jul 6 photo: Andy Ortega

By the time The Griswolds began their July 6 show, The Observatory in Santa Ana was almost completely full and pulsing with energy. The audience was singing along with the warm up music that was playing while the sound was getting checked. It was a Monday night but tonight, it was still the weekend.

As the show began, there was a deafening roar/scream as Daniel Duque-Perez stepped out onto the stage and in front of his synthesizer. That’s the reminder for us photographers to put in those earplugs.

Next came Christopher Whitehall with his trademark shaggy blonde hair. He steps up to the microphone, waves and smiles. Again, audience cheers and the show kicks off!

The Griswolds band members are great at moving around to different parts of the stage. When you’re in the audience, especially if you’re on the shorter side, it’s cool when you can see the band members without having to squeeze through a crowd. Whitehall stood on the edge of the stage many times and interacted with the audience very well too.

Katchafire: Pacific Coast Reggae Comes To House Of Blues Anaheim

katchafire

Katchafire plays the House of Blues Anaheim on Jan 8

Formed in 1997 as a covers band with a name inspired by The Wailers’ debut album Catch a Fire, to their current status as troubadours of Pacific spirit, Katchafire have refined their craft with their latest offering – a testament to organic Aotearoa reggae.

Katchafire are no strangers to success, they are truly ‘World Famous in New Zealand’ with a double platinum debut album Revival, a platinum follow up Slow Burning, 2003’s highest selling single ‘Giddy Up’ and the critically acclaimed 2007 release Say What You’re Thinking. They are also revered throughout the Pacific and are part of the staple diet in the Californian reggae scene.

Recorded at the familiar hunting grounds of Revolver Studios in Waiuku, Katchafire consists of father, Grenville Bell (guitar), Haani Totorewa (keyboards, vocals) Tere Ngarua (bass guitar), Logan Bell (guitar, lead vocals), Jordan Bell (drums), Jamey Ferguson (keyboards, sax, lead vocals) and Leon Davey (vocals, percussion). The album is a finely tuned result of brothers with a constant vibe and consciousness of their travels: both physical and spiritual. Logan Bell offers some insight to OC Concert Guide on how the process worked this time round.

OCCG: I understand that Katchafire consists of a father and two sons besides the other band members. How long have you been playing together as a family and before Katchafire?
LB: Dad played when we were kids – till I (Logan) was about 8 – then mum made him get a real job. Then when Jordan and I were about 18 we started studying music and we all started a reggae band – with dad, which was the start of Katchafire. That was 20 yrs. ago

OCCG: When writing new songs, is it usually one of you doing that or does the band contribute?
LB: We all write separately – one of us has a whole idea, but sometime combinations also – we have a lot of songwriters in the band, and singers:)

OCCG: What’s the story behind the name “Katchafire”?
LB: Pulled it out of a hat!!

OCCG: Your music is obviously influenced by reggae. are you ever influenced by other music genres?
LB: Yes!! Like Hip-Hop, R-n-B, Funk, Jazz, anything sexy.

OCCG: Got any crazy adventure stories about something that happened while on tour?
LB: Oh man, we got stranded in Saipan die to wrong advice from us consulate in NZ – so many things!!! It’s been years – anyway we ended up having the governor’s daughter help us via Facebook!! We had dinner with them

OCCG: Favorite city to play in the US?
LB: Favorite in the world? San Fran!!! Amsterdam :))

OCCG: When you’re on tour, what do you miss most about New Zealand, your home?
LB: My kids!!!

OCCG: What’s going on with Katchafire after this tour?
LB: Staying in New Zealand for a while and get this album finished finally. Then off to Europe in July, lots of new stuff on the horizon, collaborations and things:))

Alternative Dance Vibes From A Land Down Under

Gold Fields

Catch Gold Fields at the Constellation Room Sept. 9.

Australian band, Gold Fields, will be performing their “80s, new wave-influenced, dance-pop” music on Monday, Sept. 9 in the Constellation Room in Santa Ana. Formed in Ballarat, Victoria, Australia in 2010, Gold Fields feature vocalist, Mark Robert Fuller; guitarist, Vin Andanar; keyboardist, Rob Clifton; bassist, Luke Peldys and drummer, Ryan D’Sylva.

The band released their first self-titled EP in 2011. In 2013, Gold Fields delivered their debut full-length album; Black Sun. OC Concert Guide spoke with the band’s vocalist as they head back to the U.S. after successful tour with Capital Cities last spring.

OCCG: Can you introduce yourselves, your part in the band and where you were born?
MRF: Yeah it’s Mark (Fuller), I was born in Ballarat and I sing in Gold Fields.

OCCG: Which genre would you say your music is in?
MRF: We think about it as dance music, especially when it comes to the live show. We’re starting to write new music at the moment so it’s hard to say where it’s heading after Black Sun.

OCCG: Your music has very strong percussion. What or who influenced this?
MRF: Yeah Ryan writes all the drum parts. I think because he knows he’s got Rob to help him play the stuff live, he can write things as complex as he likes and they’ll always figure out a way to pull it off live. It’s good fun for the rest of us to watch at practice. Having a big percussion set up definitely makes the live show more interesting for us too.

OCCG: What was your biggest struggle after forming Gold Fields?
MRF: For me it’s being away from home so much. We’ve spent a lot of time away over the past couple of years an its tough leaving girlfriends and friends and family for months on end to tour.

OCCG: Do you have a theme or message in your debut album, Black Sun?
MRF: Not an intentional one. Listening back, lyrically I actually think the album is really self-absorbed. The whole record is in a way. We were only thinking about ourselves when we made it. Trying to come out with something we liked.

OCCG: What’s the process like when putting a new song together?
MRF: It changes every time. Ry or Vin might program an instrumental, we’ll record vocals on it then take it into a jam room and play it out till it feels right.

OCCG: You’ve been touring through several countries now. Is there a particular city or country that’s been your favorite?
MRF: Yeah I really like San Diego. Pretty much anywhere in California and around LA. Our shows in New York have been highlights. Portland and Seattle, and also any shows in Australia are always great.

OCCG: What can we expect in the future from Gold Fields? Is there another album in the works?
MRF: After this US tour, we’re going to start writing properly again. Not 100% sure at this stage but after this tour, the next thing you’ll hear from Gold Fields will probably be some new music early next year maybe. I think we’re sort of looking at next year as the next chapter, so to speak.

OCCG: Can you give some advice to up-and-coming artists or bands?
MRF: Well we’re still up and coming ourselves so not really. But anything that’s ever worked out for us is the result of some pretty hard work. So I guess just work a lot and make sure you love what you’re making

Southern California Style Reggae Lights Up The House of Blues

Originalites

Originalites play the House of Blues Anaheim August 28

Orange County’s own reggae roots band from Fountain Valley will be headlining the House of Blues Anaheim on Wednesday, Aug. 28. Haling from coastal southern California, the band is known for mixing their own style of Pacific influenced vibes into their irie-style music.

The OC Concert Guide caught up with the band as they prepare to play for their hometown crowd.

OCCG: Can you share with us the story of how The Originalites got together?
Originalites: Daniel, Tim, and Peter form the band at the end of the school year at Fountain Valley High School in 2008( their senior year). Then in Dec of 2008 they met Mike at Kiro Bigra’s African shop called African Corner when it was located in Fountain Valley.

OCCG: Your stomping grounds is Orange County, but where were each of you born?
Originalites: Tim was born in Newport Beach, CA, Peter was born in Anaheim Hills, CA, Daniel was born in Lima, Peru and Mike was born in Long Beach, CA.

OCCG: Describe your music and what influences it.
Originalites: Feel good music covering a range of emotions through personal experience. Music that makes you dance, makes you think, or feel something positive.

OCCG: You perform regularly in OC. Do you have a favorite spot?
Originalites: Gallaghers Irish Pub & Grill in Huntington Beach and House of Blues in Anaheim.

OCCG: Which of your songs would you say are most popular with fans? Is there a band favorite?
Originalites: Fan favorite originals are: Cindypoo, Vivanda, Spinning Round, Unpretty City, Rock Bottom, Atmosphere, Porque.
Fan favorite covers are: Pycho vision – Suicidal tendencies and Ghost Town – The Specials.
Band favorites artists are: Atmosphere, Rock Bottom, “H”

OCCG: What’s been your biggest challenge as a band?
Originalites: Our biggest challenge as band has definitely been getting people to pronounce and spell our name correctly. It’s “The ORIGINALITES” NOT “the originalities.”

OCCG: Besides going to your show at the House of Blues in Anaheim on August 28th, how can we hear your music?
Originalites: Sites where you can find and download our music are; theoriginalites.com, Pandora.com, iTunes.com, Spotify.com, Jamsspace.com, TNN Radio,YouTube.com.

OCCG: What can we expect in the future from The Originalites?
Originalites: New music, lots of shows, some tours, and video and picture postings. And Alien contact.

Multi-Artist DJ, Rapper Drops Some Rhymes At La Cave

Little Debbie

Little Debbie makes a brief appearance at La Cave June 22

Rap artist, fashion designer and model, Lil Debbie will be bringing her style and sounds to Costa Mesa this Saturday, June 22 at La Cave.

Lil Debbie is from the California Bay area, Oakland to be exact, and started her music career with White Girl Mob, a group including Kreayshawn and V-Nasty, but later teamed up with Houston’s RiFF RaFF.

Together with rapper RiFF RaFF, Lil Debbie released songs in 2012 including “SQUiRT” and “Michelle Obama.” This year she made her solo debut with “California’s Sweetheart” being released this month.

The event is sponsored in part by Denell LeMark Events. The doors will be open by 9pm with Lil Debbie performing live at 12pm.

For more info on her music or upcoming shows, check out lildebbie.org or www.youtube.com/lildebbietv.