I promised another follow up blog post regarding Rock by the Sea and so here it is. My first two posts focused on one of our favorite musicians and members of the Rock by the Sea family, Jackson Rohm, as well as about the role some of the talent at Rock by the Sea plays in helping the kids that this great organization supports.
But another great part of Rock by the Sea – perhaps the most obvious part – is the amazing talent we get to listen to and the amazing community that is always present at Rock by the Sea events.
This year I was most excited to see Green River Ordinance (of Fort Worth, Texas), who has become one of my favorite bands since first seeing them on The Rock Boat in both 2010 and 2011. I keep asking myself why they aren’t the best band in America right now? Well after several years of trying, we finally were able to work out having them play a RBTS festival. My only sadness is that they were only able to play one 1-hour set. But hey, we go taste of them and they got a taste of RBTS! I think they’ll be back!
The majority of my new music over the past 5 years has been in large part thanks to Rock by the Sea and its founders, Beth Gosnell and Gail Harkins. They are the first ones who introduced me to Green River Ordinance and this time around there were some more introductions this year with music and musicians who were “new” to me.
I especially loved the band A Thousand Horses, a good southern rock band from Nashville. And then there was the duo of Nick Santino and Justin Richards – who make up half of the band known as A Rocket to the Moon. I had not heard of this band before RBTS, but apparently they are a much bigger deal than I realized. I really enjoyed their performances – they are really light-hearted guys who know how to laugh (even in the middle of songs, apparently!) and don’t take themselves to seriously. After I got back from RBTS, I’ve been listening to their music more than any other music. Fun stuff for almost any mood I’m in.
Another new band I enjoyed listening to was Melodime from Washington, DC. And no need to order up some Jack Johnson. We had the opportunity to hear some good solo sets from Nick Gill as waves crashed on the shores just feet away.
And of course there were regular RBTS favorites I couldn’t miss including Amy Gerhartz, Green Light Morning, Tim Brantley, Steve Everett, and Brian Fechino. We also saw the return of guitarist Michael Westbrook (formerly of the Sam Thacker band) who has teamed up with his wife Dee to form the duo The Hot Hearts. And Travis Denning was back – although this was his first “big” Rock by the Sea event, as he previously only played at our Christmas shows in Atlanta and Macon. The country music scene might need to get ready for this guy.
This year we were also privileged to have back Emerson Hart (of Tonic) and Matthew Mayfield – both for their second RBTS. This year, however, Matthew brought his full band, which was a very good idea. They really put the “rock” into Rock by the Sea. That said, a part of me missed the acoustic solo “ballads.” Matthew just has great song writing, an amazing voice (sounds very much like Dave Matthews to me) and he is just so authentic as a person and as a musician.
During RBTS, I also participated in the silent auction and was fortunate enough to be the highest bidder for the guitar signed by Matthew Mayfield, which also has the lyrics to his song “Open Road” on it. What a great song, with amazing lyrics. Matthew was even nice enough to take a photo with me and the guitar on stage while he was setting up for his final performance at nearly 1am on Saturday night (or Sunday morning).
The other element of RBTS is just all the friends you see from year to year (this was my fifth RBTS in a row). It’s fun to reunite with all of our friends who come from around the country including from as far as New York, Chicago, and Ohio. And then all of our friends from all over the South and from the great state of Florida.
But of course, we veterans also welcome lots of new fans to RBTS each year and we make new friends. It doesn’t matter who you are or where you’ve come from, when you get to RBTS you become part of the family. Maybe it’s the bonding over the music, maybe it’s the drinks, or maybe it’s the activities on the beautiful beaches. Whatever it is, the Rock by the Sea family continues to grow! We’re ready to welcome more of you into our lives.