The Rock n' Roots Series Celebrates OC Reggae at the House of Blues Anaheim

Four of the six bands playing the first show of the Orange County Rock n' Roots Series (from left to right): Ralph Licea (Black Salt Tone), Alex Barnett (Aloha Radio), Lauren Mulderrig (Aloha Radio), Mighty (Special Blend, kneeling), Joshua Black (Black Salt Tone), Chris McDonald (Summit Agency Group, creator of the series), Tim Frankeny (the Originalites), Daniel Tello (the Originalites).
Four of the six bands playing the first show of the Orange County Rock n' Roots Series (from left to right): Ralph Licea (Black Salt Tone), Alex Barnett (Aloha Radio), Lauren Mulderrig (Aloha Radio), Mighty (Special Blend, kneeling), Joshua Black (Black Salt Tone), Chris McDonald (Summit Agency Group, creator of the series), Tim Frankeny (the Originalites), Daniel Tello (the Originalites).
Josh Chesler

On Wednesday, July 15, the monthly Orange County Rock n' Roots Series will kick off their inaugural event at the House of Blues in Anaheim.

Bay Area-based roots artist Rasun and the Struggle will be headlining the event, with a strong OC presence on the rest of the card from groups like the Originalites, Black Salt Tone, Special Blend, Aloha Radio and more.

"Shows like this are great for us as artist and bands, as well as for the people," Rasun says. "Reggae music today has many different forms, the movement of roots-based music that has come from OC has spread around the world and gives a new ear to artists like myself. It's a blessing."

The "Rock n' Roots" title is particularly appropriate for this group of bands, because while all have the theme of roots music running through them, they each bring their own style.

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"Five years ago, everyone wanted to classify all of us," says Mighty, the energetic singer of Huntington Beach's Special Blend. "Now it's just music, no one has to classify it as one thing. All of these bands are just fun."

Like many of the musicians on the bill, Mighty's been in his fair share of bands and played plenty of shows, but this one is different. For the OC bands, it's more of a big party celebrating the family they've created here than anything else.

"We've played a lot of shows with just regular reggae bands, but we play really high-intensity shows, so it's a little different," Mighty says. "It's going to be a fucking party, man. There'll be a mosh pit, I guarantee it, but it won't be people punching each other. There's a big difference between running around in a circle having fun and punching each other. This show's going to be awesome, because we collaborate with these bands all the time anyway. It's not far-fetched to have one or more of these bands featured on a CD."

Lauren Mulderrig, Aloha Radio's lead singer, believes that this is a show fans of OC's music scene won't want to miss, because any of the bands could blow up at any given time.

"This is one of those shows where you're going to want to be there," Mulderrig says. "I think this show perfectly represents OC's sound. It's been a hub for this kind of music for so long, and when all of us get together, it's really something special. (Roots music) is just a part of the culture. It's the kind of music that makes you want to crack a beer and lay out on the beach in the sun."

If you've seen some local rock shows in Huntington Beach over the last several years, you've probably seen the Originalites play at least once. They've become a staple of the scene, and they're certainly excited to see other bands grow around them to play together on a show like this.

"It's great to see everyone else do well, too," says Daniel Tello, singer and guitarist. "It's like a family more than a competition against each other. If anyone needs anything, another band is going to be there to help. We don't play like any of these bands, and they don't play like us. It's great to have multiple bands in the area because it's building a scene, not just one band doing well."

Tello sees the concert as "an awesome showcase of bands." For Black Salt Tone's new bassist, Ralph Licea, it's more than just a showcase, it's a reason for everyone to be on top of their games.

"It's a friendly competition, because you want to do your best in front of your friends," Licea says. "You know that everyone is going to bring it, so you have to bring it as well. People are going to be blinded by raw awesomeness."

Guest list spots are still available for Rock n' Roots through the bands and Summit Agency Group. Tickets will also be available at the door. Doors open at 6:30 and the entire show will be 18+.

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