Posted On 18 Jun 2018
For one day only, the well-known music festival Smokin’ Grooves was resurrected in Long Beach, CA on the Queen Mary waterfront on Saturday, June 16. It’s been 16 long years since this legendary hip-hop, R&B and soul festival took place so it’s no surprise that the crowds came out in full force.
Smokin’ Grooves first debuted throughout the U.S. in 1996, appearing in cities like Columbus, Ohio; Park City, Utah; and St. Paul, Minnesota. It was created by Kevin Morrow of the House of Blues and Cara Lewis, a prominent booking agent.
CARA LEWIS: The first Smokin’ Grooves tour was created as a response to Lollapalooza, which had a rock-heavy lineup. I wanted to create a tour that could act as a conduit for soul, hip-hop, funk, R&B, and reggae to come together. Kevin understood the change we could create by putting a festival on tour that would combat any fears of this genre of music and play venues with capacities of 12,000-plus. He and House of Blues provided partnership, financial backing, and sponsors to underwrite some of the costs to keep the ticket prices reasonable. We also had an advantage in packaging the tour, as 95 percent of the talent came from within my own roster.
This past weekend’s sold out Smoking Grooves Festival was organized once again by Cara Lewis and Goldenvoice, the Southern California-based concert promoters. The line-up for the day included festival veterans Erykah Badu and The Roots and many younger rap and soul artists like Childish Major, Masego, Lion Babe, Ari Lennox, H.E.R, SMINO, Alina Baraz and more. Miguel, Jhene Aiko and Anderson .Paak also graced the stages of Smokin Grooves. Each artist that this writer was able to see performed their biggest hits. They all knew what the audience came to hear and they willingly abided.
There was an incredible energy throughout the festival grounds and the artists noticed it as well and many of them even spoke about it on stage in between songs. Anderson .Paak, Les Nubians and H.E.R. mentioned loving seeing all their sisters and brothers in the audience. The vastly diverse crowd only enriched the environment. It didn’t matter if you were black or white, the music filling the air was the only thing anyone cared about.
Along with all of the different music heard on the three stages (Free Your Mind Stage, Smokin’ Stage and Groovin Stage) at the festival, there was also a lot of delicious food being served and plenty of knick knacks and official Smokin’ Grooves merchandise for sale. There were also a water bottle refill station, lockers, a place to charge cell phones and plenty of benches under shady trees.
If all goes according to plan, this latest Smokin’ Grooves reboot could be more than a one-off as Lewis has said that she hopes it will return to its touring pattern in 2019.
For more info on Smokin’ Grooves, check out their website here- https://smokingroovesfest.com/