Rootfire At The Park – It’s A Vibe

Article and photos by Collen Pryor, Red Hat Photography

Over 3 days of reggae (one of the most easy going genres to listen to), various activities, and the weather just right, Rootfire was everything I wanted it to be and more. Not to mention I had the pleasure of photographing my favorite artists at one of the coolest family events I have attended.


On Friday, my festival squad and I headed towards Cocoa Beach to set up camp before we ventured into Rootfire At The Park.* When we got there, it had the same layout as last year. This year had more room for Yoga and their Soccer Garden Party. The first night we had The Hip Adduction closing us out. The show started out with the singer, David New banging his emotions into a floor Tom with their drummer, Matt Poynter before David swung his guitar the back to start strumming. Their reggae-indie sound was an ideal start for Rootfire.

*Rootfire did not offer camping, therefore we camped at the one of the nearby state parks (which I recommend to everybody attending  a non-camping festival. It was wonderful.) Our camping Location: Jetty Park, Cape Canaveral: about 20 minutes from the festival grounds. Beautiful clean park, leave nothing but footprints!


Saturday morning came around after a starry night and we were tasked with cooking breakfast in 20mph winds. Was it difficult? Absolutely! However, we crushed an awesome meal before the long day. It started in a section of Cocoa Beach where Rootfire organized a beach clean-up with a impressive turnout that led to the collection of 7 huge garbage bags within an hour and a half. Early Saturday we caught Kash’d Out, an up-and-coming reggae band out of Orlando. Needless to say, it one of my favorite shows this weekend. A fun moment during their set was when excited fans in the crowd mimicked the sirens on their single “Yes, I”. The night led to big names including Jesse Royal, Stephen Marley and my favorite artist, Michael Franti and Spearhead. Every artist that performed preached positivity and delivered messages at just the right times. Stephen Marley brought his army of musicians to Cocoa for a little over an hour to play his new hits and family classics like “I Shot The Sheriff.”
Michael Franti is the reason why I love music photography. I have been wanting to shoot his concert since I began about 2 years ago. I KNEW this was going to be special. But it ended up being special for so many other reasons. Despite recently rehabbing through a knee surgery, he spent a third of the show in the audience singing with strangers and sharing his love for everybody. Michael preformed a song he’d never played for any other show, “Enjoy Every Second” and once the hour and a half show concluded, I was backstage where he played his song again! Earlier that day, Michael went out and met his fans and one, Carl was front row the whole time and he met Michael. After the backstage singing, he realized Carl was still out front and brought the party to him! Finally, Michael left and we headed back to camp.


Sunday, like the day before, was great but a tad gloomy. Overcast skies for majority of the day reminded us all we were still in Florida. It gave the local bands the chance to poke fun at our famous short rain storms. The weather didn’t stop families and children from coming out whatsoever. Several bands including The Reis Brothers, Citizens Cope and our closing act, Shaggy all had a ton of faces ready to see them. 

Jesse Royal had a solid set, with preaching the Rasta culture. It was Sunday service with Jesse was on the people were feeling it!
The Reis Brothers were also one of my favorites over the weekend. Young, talented kids with music in their blood showed us all you can be a 4 piece band with 2 musicians. Kevin played guitar, but looped in a ukulele and a keyboard. Live. His brother, Charlie was drumming, singing and then using a keyboard as a bass. Live. Check them live before they blow up!

Citizen Cope made an appearance with a raw, acoustic set, that everybody in the audience loved. His fans know his music as they sang along throughout the show.
Before Shaggy, his entourage brought out a party before the party with Djing, and opening acts. It was cool to see Shaggy do that. He came out with his Jamaica party and there was no turning back. Shaggy did his classics “Angel” and “It Wasn’t Me” which everybody was dancing and recording to. He brought Jamaica with him and had the crowd waving their hands and sharing what their culture is all about.

Thank you Rootfire, for making this a 3 Day Music celebration and having a talented lineup.

Big up!

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