Three-day festival brings Ziggy Marley, Soul Majestic and others to Live Oak Camp
Reggae on the Mountain has found some new peaks.
The Malibu festival has moved to the Santa Barbara area and will bring a large lineup of performers — everyone from Ziggy Marley to local band Soul Majestic — to Live Oak Camp, nestled in the wilderness between the San Rafael and Santa Ynez mountains.
Thousands of people are expected to hear reggae’s bright beat and powerful messages from 7 p.m. Nov. 18 through 11:30 p.m. Nov. 20.
“It’s our first time in Santa Barbara. We wanted to basically expand this into a more proper festival,” festival co-founder Amit Gilad told the News-Press. “We were at Topanga Canyon for nine years, then we went up to Malibu, but we were close to the neighbors, and we had a time curfew. We couldn’t have anyone camping.
“We wanted to expand it to a more robust event, with three days of camping at Live Oak, where there’s an amazing history of festivals,” Mr. Gilad said. “We were trying to find a venue where we could expand. We kept outgrowing our venues here in L.A.”
Mr. Gilad, who started Reggae on the Mountain with fellow Topanga Canyon native Brooks Ellis, said he has vacationed in the Santa Ynez Valley and loved it. He felt it was ideal for reggae.
“It’s positive music. It’s uplifting music,” he said. “When you hear that music, it makes you feel good.”
In addition to Ziggy Marley and Soul Majestic, the festival will feature Ky-Mani Marley, Steel Pulse, Barrington Levy, Don Carlos, Yellowman, Groundation, Nattali Rize, Pato Banton, Denm,Marlon Asher, Arise Roots, Hempress Sativa, Prezident Brown, Vana Liya, Tomorrows Bad Seeds, Jahgun & Justifyah, Sensi Trails, Tom Curren, Maku Rothman, Boostive, BLVK H3RO, Rey Fresco, Rastan and Synrgy.
Reggae is known for a beat that makes you dance and a message that stays with you after the final chord. The music can be celebratory and fun, or it can be a call for social change.
“Reggae is message music. It always has been,” Soul Majestic vocalist and rhythm guitarist Eric Iverson told the News-Press in 2021. “A lot of reggae greats came out of Jamaica and sang a lot about social justice and the world.”
Soul Majestic has performed songs from “Keep It Burning,” its 2021 album inspired by the Standing Room movement protesting the underground Dakota Access oil pipeline.
“But there’s always room to sprinkle in feel-good songs. We do that too,” said Mr. Iverson, a Santa Barbara resident who graduated in 1993 from Santa Barbara High School. “We keep it fun.”
Ziggy Marley told the News-Press recently that he’s careful not to generalize about reggae. “Reggae is so many different things.
“Depending on which artist you’re listening to, it can be uplifting, or it can be about revolutionary change,” he said.
Mr. Marley said he’s excited to be performing in the Santa Barbara area. “I’ve performed there, a very long time ago.”
Mr. Marley is known for singing “One Love,” a song that was written by his father, vocalist Bob Marley (1945-1981) and his band, the Wailers. You can see Ziggy Marley singing it before an enthusiastic audience in 2018 in Paris on YouTube.
Mr. Marley said his father was “a people person, who loved being around people. I think people picked up on that. They loved the music, they loved his smile. He was like a friend, a brother, like a family.”
Ziggy Marley talked about songs he has written.
“ ‘Love Is My Religion’ is one of my personal favorites,” Mr. Marley said. “When I wrote that song, it was a moment of realization for myself.”
He also wrote and sang “True to Myself.”
“There are moments in life when you have to make a decision. You have to be true to yourself,” Mr. Marley said.
He discussed how he’s evolved as a musician during his long career.
“Honestly, I feel like I’m a better writer of songs. You learn as you go,” he said. “I’m a better listener to myself.
“I’m much less anxious about it,” he said about songwriting. “I’m more relaxed. I’m letting the music speak to me rather than force it.”
During the pandemic, Mr. Marley wrote a children’s book,“My Dog Romeo.” And he and his wife, Orly, wrote a children’s book together, “Little John Crow.”
“Those were written during a time when everyone was in quarantine,” Mr. Marley said. “We got a dog during that time, which was Romeo, who became an important part of our life.
“ ‘Little John Crow’ is about being true to yourself.”