Day one of the inaugural Dry Diggings festival is in the books, an incredible day of good vibes, beautiful weather, great friends and some of the best reggae music of our generation. After a quick plane ride and a short drive to Placerville it is apparent why The Cali Roots Presents team selected the El Dorado Fairgrounds at the host for this event. The fairgrounds are massive, as I entered through the front gates the first thing you see is camping grounds. Hundreds of tents, ezups of all different colors were carefully placed on the lawns to accommodate as many campers as possible. Camp was filled with groups playing beer pong, cooking, listening to their favorite music all while being in the company of thousands who want to do the exact same thing. The feeling of unity was strong at Dry Diggings, everyone seemed to be having a good time with little to complain about.
As you navigate the fairgrounds, once you get past the camping you will see the beautiful open field that is surrounded by huge trees. The main stage is set in a valley, so you can stand in front in the stage to watch, or you could sit along the hillside and take in the show from the comfort of a blanket. The second stage is perched on a hill opposite the main stage, music flowed all night as the two stages alternated talent. The vendors were carefully selected and spread across the fairgrounds so that no matter where you were there was art, music, and beer close by.
Live art has become such a huge part in the reggae scene today, at Dry Diggings the live artists were not only amazing but for many of them this was their first time painting at an event of this style and magnitude. From dawn to dusk the team of live artists went at it with every set letting the music guide their paintbrushes, fingers, leaves or anything within reach to bring their vision to life.
My favorite moment of the night came right as the sun was setting over Stick Figure’s set. This was one of those moments that was so special and perfect words are hard to describe it. The sky was painted a fluorescent orange with streaks of turquoise blue and purple. I perched myself atop the Dab Stick double decker booth and watched as the sun went to bed for the night and released the full moon above us. Groups were playing soccer and throwing the frisbee around enjoying the company and the music all the same. Stick Figure played some new music from their upcoming album that will drop in November. For their final song they brought out Collie Buddz to perform Smokin’ Love, only the second time the pair have gotten together on a live stage to perform the song. The night only got better from there as the sky turned black and the lights fired on for the first time, bright LEDs seemed to color match each note of the song further enhancing the experience.
Almost as if he called in his troops, when Collie Buddz hit the stage for his set the entire campgrounds emptied and moved to the stage to take in the Bermuda born MC. With high energy from the start Buddz was bouncing up and down to the beat of the music getting the crowd engaged and singing along. Buddz continued the Dry Diggings tradition of playing newer music along side his classic hits. During his set a dedicated group of fans made sign for Buddz, “Go Hard Collie Buddz” once they got his attention he quickly ended the song the band was playing and went right into the song Go Hard even bringing the microphone into the crowd so they could sing along. Buddz even brought a fan on the stage during Haters to sign the chorus with him. A true entertainer, Buddz wanted to commemorate the inaugural event with a photo of him with the crowd, always humble Buddz brought out Jouse Rivas expressing, “He is the photographer extraordinaire!” to snap the shot.
One of the best parts of Dry Diggings is the lack of curfew at the fairgrounds. When 10:40pm came around most festivals would have been pushing you out the door but Tribal Seeds was just getting ready to take the stage. With a full light show behind them the band from San Diego played all of their hits along side many new tracks to a packed house. During their song Vampire, they brought out members of Through the Roots, Hirie, and Stick Figure to take different parts of the song.
As the clock struck midnight, the show was over with nothing left but a full moon to light the path back to the campgrounds. Day one of the inaugural Dry Diggings was in the books and we couldn’t be more excited to come back for an even more packed day two.