Last year, the Bucksport Marina in Conway, South Carolina hosted the inaugural Waccamaw Getaway Festival – a three-day event boasting more than 25 bands from near and far, including singer/songwriter Randall Bramblett, folk/blues/Americana outfit The Ben Miller Band and local “reggae jam rock” stalwarts, Treehouse!, who have been steadily gaining traction at festivals and venues across the U.S.
With the idyllic Waccamaw River as its backdrop, the event featured vendors and artists of every stripe and offered camping, boat docking, food and much more.
And it’s about to happen again over Memorial Day Weekend – May 25 through May 27.
I recently spoke with Mann to get the skinny for this year.
RY: How did you guys manage to snag Todd Nance and Friends for the headliner? Did you have to go through hoops?
MANN: A friend of a friend. A friend of mine is a friend of Todd’s and he came to me and said, “I think I can make this happen.” I said, “Please try to make it happen.” So, thank you, Chris.
Q: What’s new with this year’s lineup? I see a mix of returning acts as well as some new names.
A: There are definitely some returning bands. As long as there is a [Waccamaw] Getaway Festival, there will always be a spot for Groove Fetish. We also have Dubtown Cosmonauts and Electric Soul Pandemic returning. This year, we managed to snag a lot of bands that we couldn’t get last year because we had such a short amount of time to put it together.
Q: You had three months to put something together that typically takes maybe nine months.
A: It’s something that you want to take as much time as you can to have the biggest number of bands that have the dates open. But we put the first one together in less than 90 days, so this year, one of the first things we did was go after the bands that we couldn’t get to last year because they were already booked.
Q: And you seem to still have a good mix of local, regional and national acts. Is this by design, or did the roster just come together that way?
A: Well, the first year, the roster came together the way it did because of time constraints and we got very lucky. The basic idea here is that this is a destination festival, but we would obviously like to get as many locals there as possible. The idea of this festival is to present original music from around the country and make it a destination for people.
Q: Tell me about the late-night sets. Is this a new addition?
A: Last year we had some late-night DJ sets. That was pretty neat, but this year we also have some special late-night stuff lined up. First, we are going to have a late-night DJ set from Plenny G. And we also have – and this is so exciting for us – Tru Sol in a late-night set. Although the focus of the festival is original music, there are certain things that one does not say no to. When the opportunity to have a dance party with Tru Sol came up, we were real psyched about that.
Daniel Combs of Jahman Brahman (one of the bands we wanted for last year) has gotten together with Wade McMillan from Oracle Blue. They are going to do a late-night electronic jam kind-of-thing with whoever else is going to sit in with them. The great thing about the bands at this festival is that they are from all over the region and around the country. You’ve got bands coming in from Athens, GA and Boston. The Ben Miller Band is coming in from Joplin, MO. We’ve got bands coming in from Tennessee, and North Carolina is very well represented. A lot of these bands have been at different festivals with each other, and they have gotten to know each other. We really don’t know who will sit in with McMillan-Combs and Friends, but there will be friends.
Q: Tell us about the Artist’s Area and the Flow and Fire Area.
A: The Flow and Fire Area is once again manned this year – or should I say womanned – by our good friend Ann Virginia [Ann Winnard] of Over the Moon Productions. Annie and all her crew are going to be there – spinning fire – spinning LEDs – and they invite people to bring their own toys and participate. You just need to sign a little waiver-thing.
We are also going to have the vendors area in a new spot this year – they will be right out there in the middle of everything – outside of the music area but also very much within earshot of the music. Everything is very close together this year, and the vendors will not be sequestered away in a separate building.
Right next to that will be the Art Tent, and a friend that we designated the Waccamaw getaway Festival’s artist superhero – Stephen Rullo – is going to make sure that the art tent is doing what it’s supposed to do, which is basically be a zone for artists who will come in and listen to the music and spend part of their day creating art live on the spot – painting and whatever. We have a limited number of art spaces – and just like we did last year, we gave them out to artists for free. Artists are an essential part of what we’re doing, and yet how many artists do you know that have any money.
Q: You must have learned what worked and what didn’t work from last year.
A: We did learn a number of things, which happens when you do something for the first time and you try to do it again. We are taking those things and putting them into action this year to make it just a better experience for everybody.
Q: Tell me about the addition of Seth Funderburk [Sea Note Recording/Waterway Run Management] as co-organizer?
A: Seth helped out with a lot of stuff last year, and he was on the sound board quite a bit. He has a lot of experience with production, booking and promotion. He’s done everything you can do in the music business around here, and he is a great asset and a great resource. Seth and I both serve on the board of South by Southeast together, so we’ve known each other a long time.
Q: How are you guys getting the word out?
A: WAVE 104.1 is presenting the festival as the official Summer of Live kickoff. We have been giving away tickets and upgrades to three-day passes that include camping. We will do the same thing with support from 96.1 WKZQ. But WAVE is the presenting radio station, so I will be on scene the whole weekend.
We’ve done some promotion outside of town, of course. Like I said, this is a destination festival. We have done some radio and other promotions in Wilmington. We have some street-teamers in Wilmington, with posters, flyers, and the like. We also have a street-teamer in Florence, making sure the flyers and posters go where they need to go.
We have been promoting through social media, of course. We have promoted through all of the regional important jam-band websites and hooked up with the Homegrown Music Network.
Most of all, people are just spreading the word around because they are excited about it and want to share it with their friends. People are supporting it left and right. We have no big conglomerate behind us. This is a family-created festival, with bands being booked because one person knew another person.
Q: But you have sponsors. Tell me about them.
A: We’ve got New South Brewing as sponsor, and you know they are as local as you can get. We’ve got sponsorships from Tito’s Handmade Vodka. While it’s a very well-known and popular vodka brand – it’s certainly not one of the giant big dogs taking over the world. It’s some guys from Austin, TX. We hooked up with Waccamaw Riverkeeper, and we will give them a portion of our proceeds so that they can keep the river that makes the festival so beautiful – clean and safe– and this whole thing is just an effort by a bunch of people who just want to see us have a good music festival.
For more information, visit www.waccamawgetawayfest.com.
For ticketing, go HERE.
Myrtle Beach-area locals can save money by picking up LOCAL’S ADVANTAGE three-day day passes at New South Brewing – 1109 CAMPBELL STREET, MYRTLE BEACH, SC 29577 (843) 916-2337 Info@NewSouthBrewing.com. Hours: Tuesday-Friday from 4pm-7pm and Saturday from 1pm-5pm.