It will be a blend of the old and the new at the 2012 Monterey Bay ReggaeFest. The three-day concert celebrating roots reggae takes place Friday through Sunday at the Monterey County Fairgrounds in Monterey.
Tickets are $30 advance for Friday, $40 at the door; $40 advance Saturday and Sunday, $50 at the door. Three-day all access passes are available for $90 advance, and $110 on Friday only. For information, visit www.mbayreggaefest.net.
The lineups posted on the festival website list the following scheduled performances. Friday features Sanchez, The Holdup, Zhen, Los Rakas and Hooliganz.
Saturday features Finn, Glen Washington, Josh Wawa White, Pyrx Band, Ray Leger and Maxi Priest.
Sunday features The Hallway Ballers, Lujan & The Yard Stylee All-Stars, Gyptian, Pure Roots, Tribal Theory, ABJA, Spawnbreezie, Judy Mowatt, Lloyd Brown, Mystic Man and Capleton.
A few artists will be making return appearances, including Saturday night's headliner Maxi Priest.
The London-born, Jamaican-raised artist has performed at the Monterey festival several times over the last few years.
Priest is best known for his 1990 single "Close to You," a sultry fusion of reggae vocals and R&B rhythms that shot to No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart. Priest and UB40 are the only British reggae artists to score a No. 1 single on the U.S. charts.
Speaking on the phone from Los Angeles, Priest said the 22-year-old hit single remains one of the highlights of his career.
"You aspire to top all charts, especially the pop charts. I've been fortunate enough to have had a No. 1," said Priest. "I've been in the R&B charts, the pop charts in England. All of them are achievements no matter where you come from. They are something I'm very proud of and I'm still in hope that maybe I might get another No. 1. I'm not dead yet."
Priest said he enjoys playing the Monterey Bay Reggaefest because it's performed at the site of the seminal 1967 Monterey Pop Festival.
He said the pop festival and everything that surrounded it during the times, such as the hippie and civil rights movements, coincides with the timeline for the birth and growth of reggae music.
"I think the area has been loving reggae music for a long, long time. Even from the hippie era. I think that Monterey and California have stood up from way back then. I think the whole thing knits itself together, reggae music and equal rights and justice," Priest said.
He continued "When I come to Monterey or San Francisco, it's like I'm coming into an area that has seen the growth of reggae for a long time. It's like, you're not teaching these people anything. They are appreciating something they've loved for many years."
Priest and acts like Lloyd Brown, Capleton and Sanchez represent the veteran portion of the line-up. They are staple acts who have toured the ReggaeFest circuit for decades.
A few up-and-coming, as well as local acts, highlight this year's festival.
Los Rakas is a Panamanian duo based in Oakland that bring a street-smart edge to the world music genre.
Cousins Raka Dun and Raka Rich meld their Panamanian-informed reggae style with independent hip-hop sensibilities. They are backed by Central Coast native Nima Fadavi on DJ duty.
Other local acts include Lujan & The Yard Stylee All-Stars of Salinas and Hallway Ballers of Moss Landing.
Lujan is another streetwise vocalist who got his start as founder of the east Salinas band Dubwise.
Hallway Ballers enjoyed some national recognition in 2011 when their music was featured in the MTV animated show "Good Vibes." The longtime Moss Landing buddies specialize in mellow reggae grooves and hip-hop lyricism that promotes positive energy.
Another budding artist is southern California singer/songwriter Zhen, who is making his second appearance at the festival.
Born in the So-Cal town of Carson, the Samoan-singer moved to Hawaii during his high school years, where he developed his island reggae sound.
Performing with an eight-piece band, Zhen's smoky vocals are what make him stand out on tracks like the R&B track "Honey Girl," and the acoustic ballad "Live For Today."
His rasp was considered a "flaw" by record-label executives in the early part of his career. Zhen decided rather than alter it, he was going to stay true to his vocal instrument.
"I didn't really know I had the type of voice I had, because I was always trying to make it really smooth," he said. "I just said however it's going to come out, it's going to come out."
What: The 2012 Monterey Bay Reggaefest
Where: The Monterey County Fairgrounds, 2004 Fairground Road, Monterey
When: 3-10p.m. Friday, 11a.m.-10p.m. Sat-Sun, July 27-29
Tickets: $30 advance for Friday, $40 at the door; $40 advance Saturday and Sunday, $50 at the door. Three-day all access passes are available for $90 advance and $110 on Friday only. For information, visit www.mbayreggaefest.net.