“Rocktoberfest” was a great success … and there’s more to come

[image-1]Not actually an official club or business, the newly-established, beautifully rural Awendaw Green is now on the map as a functional and welcoming music venue. Their “Rocktoberfest” events (Oct. 18-19) went quite well this weekend and they already have plans for more shows and festivals this year.[image-2]

What began so quietly last spring as a series of casual backyard jam sessions at local dentist and music enthusiast Eddie White’s family home in Awendaw (just a quick walk up Hwy. 17 from the Seewee Outpost and the Seewee Restaurant) accelerated into a fully-realized, well-organized, two-day festival of music, food, and community. It’s amazing how things took shape so quickly and so thoroughly. White and his co-organizers Rob Lamble , Dan Henderson, T.J. Phillips (and many others) were able to book four dozen acts, make elaborate production arrangements, pull [image-3]numerous volunteers, and entertain hundreds of local and visiting music fans barely a minor blunder.

The major goal at the festival was to raise money for the students of Wando High School’s marching and concert band programs. White and his wife are elected band boosters. Their son and daughter are brass players in the bands.

Early in the afternoon on Saturday, October 18, a diverse crowd of over a hundred — twenty-something[image-4] scenesters, parents and their young kids, older neighbors, local band scene vets — were already strolling the grounds, catching acoustic acts , percussion ensembles, and full-sized rock bands. We even ran into actor Henry Thomas (right, with local musicians Jamie Resch, Mac Leaphart, and Caitlin Cahill) down by the concessions tents (he’s in town working on a romantic drama titled Dear John). On the “Porch Stage,” situated in the front yard of the White’s home, singer/guitarist Joal Rush impressed his crowd with his guitar looping tricks powerful voice. Later in the evening, Dave Dunning (of The Diesel Brothers) shared the stage with singer/percussionist Larry Strickland through set of originals and covers.

[image-5]At the main stage behind the house (the “Barn Stage” they called it), a full P.A. system, amp-and-drum backline, and lighting rig was set up for each band. [image-6] Highlights in the evening included the newly formed quartet Zero to Never (right), fronted by singer/bassist Jeff Calafiore (ex-Foxy Mondays, Joy Ride); the twangy and skillful Americana/pop band White Rhino (above), led by singer Aaron Levy, with guest pedal steel player Charlie Thompson; and grungy power-trio Torture Town, (below) the new original rock project led by singer/guitarist Doug Walters. Things went [image-7]smoothly through night — even when the county sheriff showed up during upstate singer/guitarist Jeff Norwood’s late-night “power blues jam” to request an end to the concert.

With such popular local co-headliners as Jay Clifford, Owen Beverly, Leslie, Sol Driven Train, and Zach Deputy, Day Two (Sunday, October 19) drew an even larger audience. The day started with a “Grits and Gospel Brunch” segment, featuring gospel and spiritual music from Ann Caldwell & The Magnolia Singers. There was plenty of collaboration between bands, too: Deputy jammed with the three guys from Leslie through a few numbers, as did the horn-playing members of local band The Whisperjets. The late-night session found members of Columbia-based jamgrass band Woodwork Roadshow trading licks with Deputy as well.

[image-8]“The local lower Awendaw community deserves thanks for allowing us to pull off a festival of this magnitude,” White said afterward of the event. “Every single band gave the appreciative listeners a healthy dose of their music souls. The sound was tuned to perfection and brought out the best. That sense of coming together was my goal, and it tasted great. The cross-pollination of genres and generations has occurred. We will see, feel, and hear if there is any fruit to be harvested.”

“Every single person involved with ‘Rocktoberfest’ at Awendaw Green deserves thanks,” White added. “Special thanks go to Rob, Dan, T.J., and Stage Presence Event Rental Company. ‘Rocktoberfest’ was hatched and grew into a beautiful musical monster. We have created a friend-raiser that will be tweaked for an even better event next year. We should have the entire festival up on WeAreRadio.com within the week. Stay connected to Awendawgreen.com for more musical experiments.”

(photos by T. Ballard Lesemann)