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Cali Roots Radio is Sirius XM's newest addition to reggae music channel, The Joint.

How Cali Roots Festival inspired SiriusXM

Written By Rebecca Victoria

Sirius XM’s reggae channel, The Joint, will be getting a new show Friday, May 3. The satellite radio company has teamed up with Ineffable Music and the California Music and Arts festival to bring reggae music lovers, Cali Roots Radio. The show will be hosted by Eric Rachmany, the frontman of the Grammy-nominated reggae-rock band Rebelution. Ineffable Music is a coalition of independent managers, producers, and promoters that curate music and live events all over the globe. One of those events is the Cali Roots Festival, which is where the new radio station gets its name. Pat McKay, Sirius XM’s director of music programming/The Joint first attended Cali Roots Fest back in 2016. Inspired by the festival’s diversity and live reggae music experience, she helped bring together Adam Gross and Scott Greenstein. Gross runs Ineffable’s Label services and PR department and Greenstein is the president and chief content officer for SiriusXM. Gross believed that there was a largely untapped audience for American Reggae bands. The two were then connected with Steve Blatter, Senior VP/General Manager of music programming for Sirius XM and Jon Maxwell, Senior Virtualization Engineer at SiriusXM. They worked for several months formatting the program. Just a few weeks after the premiere of the new station, the Cali Roots Festival will be turning 10 years old. What was once a one-day small back yard concert has grown into a sold out three day weekend with over 10,000 people a day in attendance. The Cali Roots Festival features both rising and well-established reggae musicians on Memorial Day weekend every year. Rebelution has been a part of the reggae festival’s line-up since 2011.

Cali Roots Radio hopes to build a stronger reggae market for the US audience by bridging the gap between traditional Jamaican and American reggae music.

Reggae music originated in Jamaica back in the 1960s. Reggae music comes from the word “rege-rege” which means “rags” or “ragged clothes” because the music was considered to be a hodgepodge of other musical genres. These genres include Jamaican mento, contemporary Jamaican ska, and American jazz and R&B. In the 60’s reggae lyrics centered around the subject of love between a man and a woman. In the ’70s the lyrics shifted to include spiritual, cosmic love, Rastafarian teachings and ‘Jah’. Eventually, the lyrics started to speak of rebellion and revolution against forces like poverty and racism. In 1972 reggae-ska musician, Jimmy Cliff starred in the Jamaican crime film, “The Harder They Come”. The reggae soundtrack that accompanied the film is said to have brought reggae to the world. The movie and soundtrack paved the way one of the most famous reggae musicians, Bob Marley. In the 1980 and 90s reggae became popular in American music, blending its way into rock and punk music onto bands like No Doubt, The Mighty Mighty Boss Tones, and Sublime. Today, reggae is still a hodgepodge of musical genres, which now even include pop and space influences. Some of the well-known American reggae bands include Rebelution, Hirie, Slightly Stoopid, Dirty Heads, Bumpin Uglies, and many more. Cali Roots Radio’s first installment will feature reggae bands that will be performing at this year’s events like SOJA, The Green, Common Kings, Matisyahu, and Steel Pulse.

Rebelution’s Eric Rachmany will host Cali Roots Radio

The High Vibes team last met up with Rachmany at his sold-out show in Berkeley, CA for Rebelution’s Free Rein Tour. He told us about why he has chosen to pursue the reggae genre as a musician. “When I was in high school I like found reggae. I heard Bob Marley as like a little kid. But I didn’t really know a lot about the reggae genre until I went and saw a live show. So I actually came to Berekely and I saw a show at this place called the Ashkenaz and this guy named Don Carlos was performing. My sister had shown me a couple of songs of his and I really liked it. She said come with me to the show. I went to the show and was just blown away. Everybody has a moment where their eyes get wide and you just come infatuated with a scene and the music just really hit me here. Everybody’s kinda got that experience where music hits them that way. That was it for me, and I really wanted to explore the reggae genre”. Rachmany and Rebelution have become a well-known part of the American reggae music industry. He will record the music show in his San Francisco studio. Dan Sheehan, co-owner and producer of the Cali Roots Festival told Billboard that "Eric Rachmany has been a fixture on the American reggae scene for years, he knows what is happening currently in the music but understands the older stuff, which is really important for the program’s host. Hopefully, we can turn some of the younger demographic onto the older artists, reggae’s foundation, which the Cali Roots Festival has always tried to do."

Listeners can start streaming the monthly Cali Roots Radio show on May 3.

Every month Cali Roots Radio will air on Sirius XM channel 42, The Joint. The show will on Friday’s at 8pm ET and PT. SiriusXM subscribers will be able to listen on SiriusXM radios, and those with streaming access can listen online, on-the-go with the SiriusXM mobile app and at home on a wide variety of connected devices including smart TVs, Amazon Alexa devices, Apple TV, PlayStation, Roku, Sonos speakers and more.