Blue Water catches reggae wave

This weekend, Rick Conkey plans to showcase several causes that he holds dear — not the least of which is celebrating reggae music.

The host of KX 93.5's "Music Matters" radio show is set to launch the American Reggae Hall of Fame by honoring the Rebel Rockers and their founder, Eric Morton, at the upcoming Blue Water Music Festival, which will feature an assortment of musical genres.

"Laguna Beach is widely regarded as the capital of reggae in the United States, and that's largely because of the Rebel Rockers and Eric Morton," Conkey said. "They are credited for popularizing reggae over a 40-year period."

Although he is looking at the Sound Spectrum in Laguna Beach as a venue for the Hall of Fame, the city's Sandpiper Lounge, the well-known hub of the West Coast reggae scene, will also be used to recognize the artists.

Conkey's nonprofit, Blue Water Green Earth, will host the 10th annual festival from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at the Sawdust Art Festival grounds, 935 Laguna Canyon Road.

The Laguna resident staunchly believes in raising awareness about musicians' contributions to charitable, social and environmental causes. Inspiration for the two-day concert struck when he was on the lookout for a way to spur action, raise funds and educate people.

Now the 48-year-old stands proudly behind what he considers "the first festival to acknowledge the musical aspect of Laguna's world-renowned arts scene."

This year's lengthy lineup features Adam Lasher, Moonshine, Salty Suites, Common Sense, Toulouse Englehardt and others.

"They have always stepped up for this town," Conkey remarked. "It's nice to be recognized."

Half of the general admission ticket sales will benefit partnering nonprofits — including Boys and Girls Club, Heartfelt Cardiac Projects, Laguna Beach Police Employees Assn., Laguna Plein Air Painters Assn. and Sweet Relief Musicians Fund — after-school programs, musicians and others.

Guests will also be reintroduced to the Blue Water Station Program, a seven-day-a-week cleanup program designed to reduce the need for larger single-day efforts. The program can provide students with a new community service option, but "not enough people know about it," Conkey said.

Additionally, attendees can sign up for the annual Earth Day "Challenge" on April 26 to clean five beach cities in only 30 minutes. In 2013, Conkey recalled, every city beach, commercial street and kelp bed was cleared in the allotted time.

Despite so much going on simultaneously, Conkey is clear on the overall intent of the Blue Water Music Festival.

"To change the way we look at the arts," he said.

If You Go

What: Blue Water Music Festival

Where: Sawdust Art Festival grounds, 935 Laguna Canyon Road, Laguna Beach

When: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday

Cost: General admission: $35 to $120; VIP pass: $125 to $250; patron pass: $450 to $1,800


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