WHAT: Driftjam Flotilla Music Festival.
WHERE: Spence Island, Lake Murray.
WHEN: 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday, June 20.
Doug Gainey is hopeful his second shot at a Lake Murray floating music festival will help anchor the event as one of the area’s “must be there” annual festivals.
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“There’s really not a lot to do on the lake other than watch fireworks and go out there with friends,” said Gainey, owner of Doug Gainey Promotions. “I want to see this event grow and become a fixture that folks look forward to each year.”
In 2014, despite bad weather and the fact that it was the event’s inaugural year, Driftjam drew close to 600 boats and, Gainey estimates, at least 2,500-3,000 people. This year, Gainey expects those figures to nearly double.
“Get there early,” Gainey said. “Everybody needs to have an anchor and some bumpers to tie up because you’re going to be tied up with several hundred boats.”
This year’s event will feature a variety of musical genres from six Carolina-connected bands, including Jesse Moore, Bossman, Prettier Than Matt, DM Radio, Pinetop Lightning (featuring DB Bryant) and Ricky Young.
“It’s kind of taken on a life of its own,” Gainey said. “I’ve gotten calls from people in Georgia, North Carolina, Florida – all wanting to know about it.”
Gainey has also learned what to do – and what not to do – after getting one festival under his belt. His initial vision included allowing people to float up to the stage area on inflatables among the boats to create a floating mosh pit. For safety reasons, the Department of Natural Resources wouldn’t allow that. So, to accommodate the boats farther back from the floating stage, Gainey will be using a 10-foot-by-16-foot floating mobile LED screen and a much more amped-up sound system.
“The only complaint I got last year was from the people in the back that they couldn’t see or hear, but that will be fixed this year,” Gainey said.
Since the event is free, Gainey covers his costs through sponsorships, with all proceeds going to West Columbia nonprofit animal rescue organization Pets Inc.
Gainey’s goal is to keep the event family-friendly – something he can control in regard to the music played, but not as much in regard to the more adult-centered party scene that is somewhat expected to result from an all-day music festival on a lake.
“There will be drinking and partying, but on the production side, everything we do is kept family-friendly,” Gainey said. “All of the music appeals to just about everyone. There isn’t anything vulgar or anything like that.”
Driftjam gives Lake Murray boaters a chance to enjoy a somewhat exclusive music event: If you don’t have a boat or access to one, you can’t jam. The event will appeal to both younger and older adults looking for a way to get the most out of a day on the lake that is full of not only local music but also what every lake-lifer desires: socializing with friends in bathing suits, flip flops and koozies.
Janet Kendall, Special to Go Columbia