By Pamela Brownstein
The Water Festival is a feast for the senses: The sight of colorfully dressed, happy people gathered together in our beautiful Waterfront park. The smell of marsh grass and salt breezes. The taste of mouth-watering dishes from local restaurants. And, most importantly, the sound of the music that attracts audiences every night to center stage.
This year, the festival welcomes a variety of talented artists. The opening ceremony kicks off Friday with the traditional Parris Island Marine Corps Band.
On Saturday night, the Concert in the Park will be rockin’ with the country sounds of opener Josh Thompson and headliner Lee Brice.
Born and raised in Sumter, S.C., Brice, 32, is an up-and-coming country singer who writes his own music and recently returned from the 2011 Country Throwdown tour with Willie Nelson.
“Being on tour with Willie was memorable for me. To be up there with a legend was very inspiring,” Brice said.
The Clemson football player turned musician has been inspiring fans of his own with his album “Love Like Crazy.” The title song was nominated for Song of the Year and Single of Year by the Academy of Country Music. The video for “Love Like Crazy” was also nominated for the 2011 CMT Awards’ USA Weekend Breakthrough Video of the Year.
He will play his other popular songs — “Beautiful Every Time,” “She Ain’t Right” and “Happy Ending” — and also plans to add some new material, like his new single, “Beer.”
Brice said he has never been to Water Festival before and is excited about getting to perform in Beaufort.
“We will definitely be having a good time!”
The Beaufort County-based band Deas Guyz will be charming audiences with their vast repertoire of Motown, including songs from The Temptations, the Drifters, Smokey Robinson and Marvin Gaye. The popular group returns to Waterfront Park after performing last year for the Beaufort Shrimp Festival.
Taking its name from the Florida Keys, the nine-person band Conch Republic will make its Beaufort debut. The group uses unique instruments — like the ukulele, steel drums and bongos — to achieve a fun “Trop Rock” sound and to mix things up.
Band leader Michael Thomas, of Lexington, Ky, said, “We try to keep a very active, energetic show; we like to call ourselves a smiles band.”
Their set list is aimed at getting the crowd on its feet with songs by Jimmy Buffet, Bob Marley, the Beach Boys, even Barry Manilow’s “Copa Cabana.”
Thomas said their original call-and-response song “Flip flops and bottle tops” always has people up and going. “We’re all about fun,” he said.
After filling your belly with the best Lowcountry Boil around, sit back in your lawn chair, listen to local band Groovetones, then be entertained by the onstage antics of the World Famous Whistlers.
But be sure to stick around for the main event, 7 Bridges, an Eagles tribute band. The members of the band are known for their incredible musicianship, vocal precision and commanding stage presence, which means you can close your eyes and imagine you really are seeing the Eagles live in concert.
Do you think a whole busy week of Water Festival events means people are more tame by the time River Dance rolls around? No way! This is one of the most wild night, where the park is packed and everyone gathers around the stage to dance. The band tasked to give audiences a fun, entertaining show is Superglide.
The five-member band, led by Joey Bishop, takes inspiration from groups like Journey, Foreigner, Bon Jovi, and other hits from the 70s and 80s.
Bishop said, “We love what we do and you’ll be able to see it in our performance. This isn’t an oldies show, this isn’t a modern rock, beach or rap show. We play great classic rock and dance music from the late 70’s early 80’s that moms and dads will love, as well as their children.”
Legends of the Beach is a group composed of eight musicians, including five former members of the Beach Music group, the Embers. The group plays the beach music they were known for in 80s and 90s. For years, people have been wanting to see these guys back on stage performing together, and now it will happen for the final night of Water Festival.