These days, music festivals are being held in all sorts of cool locales: Bluegrass Underground is held within a network of subterranean caves outside of McMinnville, Tennessee; in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, the site of what was once the largest steel mill in the country has been transformed into a concert venue.
And Saturday, June 3, the cove around Spence Island on Lake Murray will once again host DriftJam, which organizers believe is the country’s only completely floating music festival.
“There are lots of concerts with floating stages,” said organizer Doug Gainey. “We’re the only one with no connection to land. Everything takes place on four construction platforms that we connect to form a massive barge.”
Everything, that is, except the listening.
This year, Gainey expects an audience of about 10,000 to arrive at the all-day event via boat or personal watercraft.
“We’ve had calls from people in 13 states call to ask about bringing their boats,” he said. “We’ve never had that kind of interest before. We’ve set up giant speakers and LED monitors so everyone can see and hear.”
But DriftJam isn’t just about the venue. This year, bands from Nashville, Tennessee; Atlanta and Columbia will take to the floating stage. They include:
▪ The Delta Saints, a hard-rocking, Nashville-based quintet
▪ Julia Cole, a rising country star who has opened for Carrie Underwood and Kenny Chesney
▪ RoshambeauX, an electronic rock band from Atlanta
▪ Foo Fighters Tribute Band Hey Johnny Park
▪ After 10, who are USC’s top rockers. Their hit single “City of Dreams” is a tribute to Columbia.
After years of spending summer weekends on Lake Murray, Gainey started DriftJam in 2014 as a way to“keep things interesting,” he said.
“It was getting a little boring doing the same thing week after week,” he said, laughing. “Now I’ve created a monster. I sleep on the platform Friday night because we work so late into the night and have to get such an early start.”
DriftJam is a fund raising event, this year benefitting Hidden Wounds, a nonprofit that provides interim and emergency psychological treatment for veterans and military personnel suffering from traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder, and other post-combat psychological injuries.
“Our goal is $7,500,” Gainey said. “If every audience member could pledge just $5, we’d be able to help so many of our veterans.”