After 5 days, 3000 miles, 45 hours of driving, 32 pit stops, and 22 cups of coffee, we finally made it to Dry Diggings Festival! Let us be the first to tell you that there was nothing ‘DRY” about Dry Diggings. We drove over 3,000 miles for California Roots very first Dry Diggings festival in Placerville, CA and to be honest…I would have easily driven another 3000 for what will now be known as California’s premier music, camping, and beer festival.
We all know that sometimes the most frustrating part of the festival experience is getting your wristbands in order and finding a reasonable place to camp that isn’t going to be too far from the action… That wasn’t the case here at Dry Diggings, All of their volunteers were properly trained and very knowledgeable, lining up campers with carefully placed spots allowing for maximum tent space while also leaving plenty of room for after event activities. Event staff guided families to a kid friendly camping zone with a noise curfew from the hours of 10pm-8am while the rest of the camping/event area had no curfews as long as you were respectful. Although the fairgrounds are massive, California Roots did an excellent job of plotting the event and making the camping zones close to both stages and filling the gaps in-between with their hand selected vendors. The one thing that wasn’t included on the list of activities was the MASSIVE SKATEPARK that caught my eye from the first moment I walked through the front gates. Now, granted they probably didn’t mention it for insurance liability reasons, I think with the right gear/waivers this could easily be a major attention grabber for the event and draw in hundreds more people in the future.
Beer pong and Cornhole tournaments filled the void before bands started to kick the night off. The Dry Diggings Festival also held a camping concession store for those that left behind essentials. Also included was a ‘Brewery Knowledge Zone’, with educated staff informing attendees of the delicious craft beer they were serving from Sierra Nevada, Lagunitas, Firestone Walker, and Altamont Beer Works. All of which poured free beer for attendees for over 2 hours on Saturday.
The California Roots team gathered an incredibly talented line up on 2 separate stages for The Dry Diggings Festivals first year and also included live stage paintings for every set which really added to the creative gatherings. Thrive,a band out of Santa Cruz opened the festival on the main Gold Stage followed by Skank Roots Project on the Diggings stage. Mike Love and Mystic Roots gave incredible performances before Stick Figure appeared on stage and played an unbelievably good set as the sun fell below the trees. Collie Buddz was next up on the Gold stage and if you have ever seen him live then you know how much energy he has built up waiting to unleash at every show. It was the first time I had seen the 31 year old Bermuda raised reggae artist live on stage and I can honestly say it was really refreshing, he has a great style. It was an amazing experience being on stage with him as he jumped down to the rails and involved himself in the audience giving hugs and handshakes, using every inch of stage space possible to make sure the crowd was having the time of their lives.
At this time practically every single person at the fairgrounds gathered around the main stage to hear Tribal Seeds, a 6 person, award-winning reggae group hailing from San Diego, California. With such a raw and authentic approach to the reggae scene Tribal Seeds have amassed a large, dedicated following who are drawn to the vibes their music emits. It was almost as if I was in a trance while listening to them lay out their perfect set in front of thousands of excited festival goers. I watched the their few final songs from the 2nd story of the Dabstix booth which was located right next to the Gold stage. It was a completely different experience watching the festival from up above, watching thousands of people moving to the music as light from the stage dances over the crowd. If you ever have the chance to catch a night set from up above, I highly recommend it. Tribal seeds shared the stage with Hirie, Through The Roots, and Stick Figure for a performance of their song Vampire and ended the first night of Dry Diggings on one of the highest notes possible.
So, question: What’s the best way to start your morning? Okay, okay – How about the second best way?
That’s right, Mimosas!
California Roots is all about keeping the good vibes flowing and they understand that your first morning may be a bit hazy, so to rekindle those hungover spirits they introduce to you Mimosa Mornings. Yup, every morning you and all of the friends you made the night before can stumble over and grab yourself a mimosa to go along with your morning wake and bake ritual. Musicians, vendors, volunteers, and attendees all made their way back to the event area around 11:00AM to catch Brodie Nicholas.Saturday was filled with so many unique artists like Leilani Wolfgramm, Element Of Soul, Hirie, MakuaRothman, Arise Roots and Inna Vision. On the Diggings stage I had the chance to see one of my newly favorite bands coming out of Southern California , Seedless. These dudes have such a genuine, laid back style combined with a strong work ethic in everything they do, it’s hard not to appreciate their love for the music. Seedless played a few of their older songs as well as some new ones including Heart Of A Warrior which is guaranteed to make you throw your hands up in the air. After Seedless set ended I rushed over to the Gold Stage in hopes of catching Nahko and Medicine For The People before they went on stage…to our surprise, there they were! We snapped our photo, had a (very) quick chat and wished him luck as he went on stage to blow the minds of the people who have never heard him before.Through The Roots really had an unmatched vibe to their crowd, you can really tell they connect to their fans on a whole new level just by the energy when they walk on stage. If you haven’t had the chance to catch on of their live shows, do it. You can thank us later!
California Roots knew exactly what kind of vibe they wanted here at Dry Diggings and they know that the bands play a key role in determining the outcome of an event. So when they brought J Boog on board, I am sure they had smiles stuck on their faces for weeks. J Boog was raised in Compton but has both Jamaican and a Hawaiian influence in his approach to reggae music. Starting back in 2007 with “Hear Me Roar” J Boog has been releasing a continuous stream of quality reggae, rock, and Hip Hop music, all of which he demonstrated at Dry Diggings. “Let’s Do It Again”, considered to be J Boogs breakthrough song, was definitely a crowd favorite Saturday night.
After just coming off a long summer tour, The Dirty Heads made their way up to Placerville to headline the Dry Diggings festival, and we are so happy they did! Before the Dirty Heads went on stage we had the chance to talk with a few of them about their upcoming projects. Jared (Dirty J) Bushnell one of the 2 front men for the band has recently been putting away some spare time to work on a solo project called Sword Beach. While releasing small teasers on his Instagram, he is still keeping most of the information under wraps.
He was able to tell us that he is super stoked to be working on a project that will be done fully on his own. Everything from the beats, the writing and production, all done alone and it’s such a major accomplishment for him. The coolest part is he will not be taking any time from the projects with The Dirty Heads.
The Dirty Heads ended the show with a set that lasted 1 hour and 30 minutes and played an arsenal of songs that did not disappoint their crowd of people ranging in all ages. “Franko Eyed”, “Lay Me Down”, “Burn Slow”, and “Spread Too Thin” were among some of the songs they performed for the final night. The guys usually throw drumsticks, stickers, guitar picks, shirts, and even their set lists to the crowd after their songs, this time they saved all of the SWAG for the end of the show when they played a remixed version to their hit “My Sweet Summer Is Gone”.
To sum it all up, Dry Diggings is not a festival that should be missed. I can guarantee you that I’ve never been to an event that is so laid back and free, even the band members are walking around enjoying the festivities without any worries. There isn’t an event comparable and the California Roots team does a very good job covering the entirety of the grounds while being very thorough in every detail. Although we haven’t heard any news on whether the event will be taking place again but we see no reason for them to hold back.
It takes a very dedicated group of people to pull off these events that we have all come to love and enjoy. We flock miles, sometimes thousands, in order to jam out together with new and old friends, discovering music you never knew you were searching for. Places like these are what we consider to be our escape from everything. Our second home. So please help keep these venues clean, during and after the festival so we can ensure events like Dry Diggings and others can go on and continue to blow minds for generations!