My e-mail driven, new music push from my many sweet sources, sorta went on hiatus for me this past weekend. I know some really amazing songs and albums were released, but I just couldn’t take a moment away to explore them and give them the attention I tend to give. I promise to return to my favorite picks soon and I will ultimately catch up with the submissions, but for now I am relishing in the lovely joy of my life well spent in the city I love. It wasn’t just any old vacation… I was able to experience some of my favorite bands as well as discover and learn a bit more about bands I have never seen live.
My world stopped and focused on the inaugural Music Festival in the city I love…. Charleston, SC. High Water Festival was curated by the John’s Island duo, Shovels and Rope. They explained,
“This festival is a chance for us to have some fun and show people a good time in our own backyard, while also supporting the local businesses and non-profits in our community.”
Just a bit north of the historic district, in the city of North Charleston, the Festival grounds banked the lovely Cooper River, sporting cool water breezes, shady Lowcountry oak trees, and breathtaking views.
In the past few years, Charleston has encountered an incredible growth in so many ways. The city ranks as a top tourist destination in the world, with its beautiful architecture emotional history and deep cultural experiences. As their famous Italian inspired Spoleto infiltrated the arts and music scene, the contemporary, albeit youthful popular music scene, has lagged behind other similar sized cities like Athens, GA or Austin,TX.
It has always been alive and well, just not as supported by the masses as other arts. In the past few years, I have witnessed an explosive musical creativity that has developed and taken root over time and I am proud to spread the news that it has incredible public support and sponsorship. High Water Fest is a giant leap for live music and more power to the vision of Shovels and Rope to support a diverse lineup, local businesses, and give back to the community.
It isn’t easy to pull off a new music festival. It has to be perfectly orchestrated and has to become a crowd pleaser, because in today’s world, a bad review can crumble a company. You have to be seriously on your toes, and also there is mega competition.
High Water Festival aimed to integrate music, food, and art, while also providing a positive, lasting impact on the greater Charleston community. In support of that mission, a portion of their proceeds from the event benefits The Green Heart Project, Charleston Waterkeeper, and Water Mission.
I have to admit this was a lofty mission, and well, they pulled it off beautifully.
I have been bombarding my blog feed with the bands attending. So bear with me a little while longer and relish in the photos and experiences I soaked in for the past few days. I cherished every minute, and with my photos and blog ramblings, I can return again and again to relive it.
Thank you to Polished Pig Media, AC Entertainment, and Dogwood Artist Management, for allowing me to cover the Festival with my eyes and ears. I am truly humbled to be a part of the amazing team of media, and hope this will become an annual event.
Flashbacks to Saturday
With easy FREE parking, we decided to take an inexpensive bike taxi into the venue. We were greeted with relatively no lines at the gate, blue skies and bearable temps, High Water was off to a perfect start.
After finding a shady spot underneath a tree, we spread our blanket and settled ourselves, while also taking in the shock of the beauty all around us. We gathered our plan and headed to the Stono Stage to see Julien Baker, a favorite of mine. She didn’t disappoint. As the first artist to perform, she had a daunting task. Glancing around, I was pleased to find she had a mesmerized audience, me included.
From every concentrated note and thoughtful lyric, she powered out a set that brought tears to many eyes, mine included (again).
With just a few moments to move to the next act, I was thankful there was a relatively short distance between stages. By the end of the weekend, I figured out my running path and was glad I was there early to get it all down. As the days wore on, the crowd exploded in size and maneuvering became critical. I didn’t want to miss a minute.
I bumped into this fun gal, Katy from Atlanta, as I explored. She had a refreshing drink in a refillable pineapple. It looked yummy and fun! And I am all about the paper umbrellas!
I have to say, I was digging her booties as well as her whole outfit…
but her voice was a total win.
Once she finished, I rushed to the other stage.
My crew was really excited about seeing Charles Bradley and His Extraordinaires. After his recent find of a cancerous tumor in his stomach, he took time away to have surgery and treatment. He was forced to cancel a number of appearances, so I wasn’t about to miss one of his first performances back. A gentle soul with purpose and vision, he spoke lovingly to the crowd and his fans explaining what a lucky man he was to be back on the stage.
No Charles Bradley….we were the lucky ones. Thank you!
A voice to remember.
Yep, his music makes you move and he added some serious strut in the instrumental moments.
He spoke of unity and peace and coming together. He urged everyone to “look into your hearts.”
Now this is appreciation….
Yep, the guys made a point to buy and surprise us with their support for Charles on Sunday. Gotta love it!
By this time it was really warm, the crews had been working over time (they were all amazing!) and with a bit of a lull at the next stage for a brief sound check, I found this guy ‘out’. I admit, I did this trick in school and I don’t think I fooled anybody either.
Poor guy, he quickly came out of his slumber when Caroline Rose began her set. She was a surprise to many and they were really digging her sound. Stay tuned for her album out soon, it is gonna be good!
Gotta love the shoe choice!
The masses had arrived. You had to be quick to nag a spot in front.
People were friendly and having a blast!
But looking beyond the stages, I spied oysters cooking and was feeling jealous I didn’t sign up for the oyster education class. Music always wins for me….this might be a close second.
Yes, it was Earth day and these two sported their science tees from the Charleston March earlier in the day. Melissa and Stephen said the march was about a thousand strong. Hooray!
As the day wore on, the drink lines blew up. Waiting in the long lines seemed to be a common complaint, but people were respectful and made new friends waiting. I guess when the drinks are special and delicious, it is well worth the wait! The Lagunitas beers were a fave.
I decided to wait and instead check out the VIP space. It was a dream….with sofas and umbrellas and views for miles. The space was a bit elevated, so the stage was visible from almost every spot.
But then there was this….
It was hot, I had been running hard, and I was bored with the lengthy sound check by Lucius. People were getting frustrated and yelling out to start already. I took a few shots while I was waiting.
Even the drummer was chuckling a bit at the shouts.
Well then they began and blew us away!
After their stellar set, I rushed for hydration and food. It was really warm, and I had to appreciate the groups seeking shade wherever they could find it.
I found my jam! Literally.
At this adorable food truck (think it is, Bootlegger and Rudi) I purchased a baguette of pear, cheese and fig jam. So good!
So thankful, I ate quickly and made it to see Aaron Lee Tasjan. My repeatedly Shazammed friend. I was not disappointed. His music was fresh, exciting, and how can you not love the outfit and his energy? A new favorite, for sure!
Aaron Lee Tasjan
How did he get away with underdressing? Well he was a spot on guitarist, that’s how.
The epitome of cool…
What a show! What a sound! Shredding!
I have anticipated hearing Margo Price for awhile now. I was stoked to be up front and center. What a priviledge.
She was definitely kickin’ it!
Okay, I admit it, I have a crazy thing about slide guitars. I am in love with the sound they make.
The crowd was totally into it!
After her, I ventured over to VIP to try to find a libation that wouldn’t take 45 minutes. Lines for drinks were crazy long, but VIP was no exception.
Although here, there was a killer view….
Don’t you love the packed party boats trying to get a glimpse of the festival? A+ for being creative!
Wandering around, I couldn’t help but stop to smile and experience the joy of this precious gal, Eva! We had fun playing peek-a-boo!
Now, this is going all out for the strawberry flavor pop!
And adorably soft, handmade toys galore that I wanted for my own little child-self.
Now, after checking out a few of the vendors, and a bit of soft frisbee throwing, I was primed for the evening line-up!
I stumbled on these views rushing to see Nathaniel Rateliff and the Nightsweats. it was a worthy, peaceful moment. The weather couldn’t have been more perfect!
Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats
The crowd was already eager to participate,
and clapped, and danced, and listened.
Nathaniel is a dynamic performer, and he surrounds himself with equally talented colleagues.
Getting their dance on, cause honestly, life is good when you are jamming to Nathaniel Rateliff.
The light shines on their music.
J D McPherson
He was totally rocking the night and preparing the crowds of people to get ready for the headliners. Wow!
I found myself fascinated by the lion figure on the speaker. What, where, and why?
Last, but certainly not least, The Shins!
I have to tell you all, as I stood in the photo pit shoulder to shoulder with amazing professionals, I was seriously awestruck. I experienced weak knees and squeezed out an emotional tear or two or three. James Mercer brought the evening home and I am a bigger fan now than I ever thought I could be. His iconic music spreads across many of my life’s most special moments. Swoon….
Simply tuning his guitar was golden.
The perfect ending to a perfect day.
Because I cycle often….I had to capture this beautiful bike brigade.
That’s a wrap on day one of High Water Festival. Day two in photos coming soon.