By the end of my weekend experience at the Awendaw Green Music Festival, my winter jacket smelled like oak smoke, and my camera batteries were out of juice. The little concession tickets I purchased at the front gate were all gone. My notes, scribbled in brief fits of excitement, were jagged but legible. Mission accomplished.
Congrats to organizer Eddie White and his team of volunteers at Awendaw Green for a job well done. The all-day gatherings on Dec. 4-5 comprised the venue's third major annual music fest. The chilly weather didn't deter or disrupt, thanks in part to the strategically placed bonfires that helped warm things up.
While the turnout for the two-day event was lighter than expected, more than 60 bands, duos, and solo acts delivered sets of blues, riff-rock, art-punk, country, funk, and Americana across three corners of the site. Many of the performers — like Lindsay Holler, White Rhino, Danielle Howle, Elise Testone, Slanguage, Mac Leaphart, and A Fragile Tomorrow — are seasoned veterans of Awendaw Green concerts and Barn Jams. Some musicians even pulled double and triple duty, collaborating with different groups throughout the evenings on various stages. A few newcomers stood out, too, including teen rock trio Hey Rocco, psyche-rock band Stained Glass Wall, a fun version of the Shrimp Records Family Band, and the Columbia-based Casual Kings.
"It took an army to pull it off," White reported on Monday morning. "It's all for the artists-melting-pot effect that is Awendaw Green. I hope we can continue to host functions that are so very meaningful."
Part of the fun was in observing attendees as they caught some of the bands for the first time. A sense of curiosity and discovery dominated the vibe of the crowds that gathered at each stage — even if it was a dozen or so on hand. Most folks were there primarily to watch and enjoy the performances. Wandering around, one inevitably ran into an accomplished songwriter or notable scenester along the way. Awendaw's newly elected Mayor Samuel N. Robinson was even spotted strolling the grounds on Saturday. "The mayor was into it, and we both hope to pull off a similar event for the town and its churches one day," says White.
In the two previous years, White and a board of promoters, musicians, and engineers put several months' worth of time and effort into organizing multiple-day events. Last year's event was the first to go down behind the Sewee Outpost. The four-stage setting was a big step forward.
The Seewee Restaurant served a hearty menu from a big tent, and Palmetto Brewing Co. poured its ales for cheap (three bucks per pint).
Proceeds benefited the Wando High School Band Program, the American Red Cross, and Toys for Tots.
"We had a good time with a light but steady turnout throughout the weekend," says White. "The connectivity between the artists was the highlight for me, personally."
This year, the venue's weekly Barn Jam schedule was so busy with its regular showcases and special events that they almost passed on hosting another autumn music festival altogether. In a fit of optimistic enthusiasm, White and his colleagues decided to go for it. They hustled to book the bands and set up the stages. And they pulled it off.