LA's Reggae on the Mountain Brings Steel Pulse & More to Malibu's King Gillette Park

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David Hinds of Steel Pulse performs at the 2019 Montreal Jazz Festival on June 28, 2019 in Montreal, Canada.

Two-day camping festival launched by Brooks Ellis and Amit Gilad celebrates its 10th anniversary this year.

Southern California's Reggae on the Mountain is back and and celebrating its 10th anniversary this weekend (Aug. 17-18) with an all-star lineup and a new home -- the beautiful Malibu-Calabasas King Gillette Ranch on Mulholland Highway.

Created by Topanga Canyon natives Brooks Ellis and Amit Gilad with Label 27, this year's festival is headlined by Steel Pulse, Julian Marley and Pato Banton on Saturday and closes Sunday with Matisyahu, Third World, Hirie and Mike Love of the Beach Boys. Located in the Santa Monica Mountains, King Gillette Ranch is 588-park nestled into the lower end of the Las Virgenes Valley, taking visitors back in time with several structures designed in the 1920’s by Wallace Neff, architect of California’s Golden Age. 

"The festival started in Topanga but we outgrew the space and we're able to find a bigger, more beautiful venue that accommodates more people and has a later sound curfew," Gilad says of the move, which for the first time will allow overnight camping. The festival will include two stages as well and a silent disco party, a yoga stage and a wellness village and lounge. 

"This is a big year and represents a kind of a rebirth," says Ellis, who co-founded festival with his friend and bandmate when the men were 19, hoping to raise money for community charities. This year, a portion of the proceeds will go to victims of last year's Woolsey Fire.

"Amit (Gilad) and I grew up together and we used to throw backyard parties and wanted to do something a little more impactful," Ellis explains. "We launched Reggae on the Mountain and it turned into this diverse cultural event that brings people together from different parts of L.A. that generally don't hang and dance and learn together."

Gilad adds: "It's a really inclusive kind of genre. You have all ages and all corners of the city," attend past festivals at the Topanga Community Center through last year. The daily attendance was 2,500 to 3,000 and as the festival outgrew the space, "this new venue revealed itself to us and they've been really great to work with," says Gilad. "We still get to bring people up into these beautiful mountains and share a common experience in music."

In past years, the festival has booked everyone from Toots & The Maytals to the Easy Star All-Stars. Gilad describes this year's bands as "an all-star lineup that have done really well for us in the past. We've typically branded ourselves as a roots reggae festival where we're booking a lot of Jamaican artists at our core, but this year we're expanding our horizons with music and artists from other scenes like Matisyahu and Mike Love, and we've partnered with some Hawaiian artists on the surf reggae scene."

Gilad and Ellis are hoping to hit a capacity of 4,000 per day and are producing the event on their own without help from any major promoters.

"We're grassroots by every definition and our team handles everything," Ellis tells Billboard, while Gilad adds "We're one of the few independent promoters still standing out here -- seems like everyone is getting snatched up. We wouldn't necessarily be opposed to that, but right now, it's why we've been successful. It's just a really grassroots, community-oriented, independently run show. And I think that really permeates and people can just feel that vibe."

The festival has also partnered with charity Life Rolls On and the main festival will take place on a large field space and include a food truck area for dining and a 21 and over beer and wine garden. The festival will also allow RV camping and is offering glamping experiences in Lotus Belle tents and Airstream trailers. Reggae on the Mountain is one of the only L.A. festivals to offer camping and Ellis says the campsite opens for load-in at 9 a.m. on Saturday morning. Each ticket holder must also have a camping pass to be admitted to the campsite. 

Single day tickets start at $55 while weekend tickets start at $95, plus fees. Tickets are still available. To learn more, visit reggaeonthemountain.com.


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