Spring Gathering review of Rebelution and Tommy Chong

Rebelution, a four-piece reggae group out of Santa Barbara, was probably the crowd’s favorite Saturday at the Dr. Greenthumb & Tommy Chong’s Spring Gathering music festival and medical marijuana expo.

The group started off with guitarist and vocalist Eric Rachmany asking the crowd “Where are all the ganja smokers in the house?” that drew instant cheers.

Rachmany, bassist Marley Williams, keyboardist Rory Carey and drummer Wesley Finley then jumped into “Green to Black” from their debut 2007 album “Courage to Grow” and the audience’s applause never wavered. Other songs like “Bump,” “Attention,” “Night Crawler” almost sounded like one long song to me but the audience was swaying from side to side and the musicianship is definitely there.

A new song, “So High,” for obvious reasons at a marijuana festival, really got the audience going and I believe Dre Gipson from Fishbone came out for vocals on the group’s last song “Safe and Sound.”

After Rebelution was the Kottonmouth Kings, but Tommy Chong came out and gave the audience a half comedy/half serious pep talk.

“I’ve been smoking pot for over 50 years,” Chong said. “That means I’ve been breaking the law for over 50 years.” He then detailed how selling a bong got him nine months in jail and he is now a convicted felon that must let the police know when he changes addresses.

With the upcoming November ballot initiative for the legalization of marijuana, he said, “we’re this close to getting it legal. But right here is legal,” he said to cheers from the audience.

“A lot of people ask me why I smoke marijuana,” Chong said. “I tell them the truth. It’s to get high. I do have a medical condition. It’s acute boredom,” he said to laughter from the crowd.

Chong then said smoking marijuana “puts you close to God. Because God is a stoner. God is not only a stoner but he has a sense of humor. How else can you explain George Bush?” he said to laughter.

Chong spoke for awhile longer, it wasn’t made clear if his talk was planned or he was stalling for time, before he introduced the Kottonmouth Kings as the next act.