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Beach music, friends keep crowds coming to festival
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J.D. Reid (center), Donnie Davis (back) and Larry Martin (left) relax in the shade at the Beach Music Festival in Stuart on Friday. (Bulletin photo by Ben R. Williams)
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Sunday, June 15, 2014

By BEN R. WILLIAMS - Bulletin Staff Writer

Music draws people to the annual Beach Music Festival in Stuart, but several of them said a relaxed environment and good people keep them coming back.

The festival, now in its 33rd year, took place Thursday through Saturday at Wayside Park in Stuart. The acts playing the festival included Atlantic Groove, Mark Roberts Band, Darrell Harwood, Fantastic Shakers, Hip Pocket and The Original Mighty Tams.

Kathy Lawson of Martinsville said she and her husband, Ralph Lawson, have been attending the festival for 26 years. On Friday, she was taking tickets as people arrived at Wayside Park.

“It’s a relaxed atmosphere,” she said. “You bring your own chair, you bring your own cooler ... you’re not required to spend any more money than what you spend for your ticket. It’s just a great atmosphere and lots of fun.”

There is a neighborly vibe at the event, Lawson said. For example, she said, if someone has a mechanical problem with a camper, someone else will step up and help them fix it.

While Lawson is a fan of all the bands, she said, she was particularly excited about two acts.

“We saw The Tams last fall, and it was an unbelievable show,” she said. “Hip Pocket, they’re a young beach music-type band. ... All the entertainment is just quality entertainment.”

Bobbie Vineyard said she also was looking forward to seeing Hip Pocket play. Vineyard said she has attended all but two of the Beach Music Festivals.

“The bands are what drives everybody in,” Vineyard said, but the people she meets are what keeps her coming back.

Thomas Smith agreed. Smith said he traveled from Greensboro, N.C., on his motorcycle to attend the show. He has been coming to the festivals for about nine years.

“It’s well worthwhile,” he said. “It’s for the camaraderie, the fellowship of man. ... We get along, from one end to the other.”

J.D. Reid said this was his fifth year at the festival. On Friday, he was sitting in the shade of his camper with several friends, enjoying a John Prine tune on his sound system.

“We get our little compound set up and we’re good to go,” he said.

Reid said he had enjoyed the Atlantic Groove Band on Thursday, and particularly was looking forward to seeing Mark Roberts, The Tams and The Fantastic Shakers.

What keeps him and his group coming back, he said, is “the music and all the people we’ve met. We’re just like one big family. I’ve made a lot of friends here.”

Dennis and Lisa Landry traveled from Woodlawn in Carroll County to attend the event. Both have been coming for more than a decade.

Lisa Landry said she isn’t a huge fan of the music, but she loves to set up a chair, relax and watch the people.

“It’s the beach without the beach, man,” Dennis Landry said.


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