There are so many reasons to love where we live, and the 2nd Annual Community First Seawalk Music Festival celebrates them in abundance. The event is held from noon to 10pm on June 14th at the Seawalk Pavilion in Jacksonville Beach.
The free festival spotlights local food vendors, artists and culture with an eclectic collection of the area’s top musicians, including Sidereal, On Guard, Ivey West Band, JacksonVegas, Herd of Watts, The Corbitt Brothers Band, S.P.O.R.E., Be Easy, and Woody and the Peckers. With such a feel-good menu of reggae, funk, bluegrass, southern rock and blues, festival organizers are hoping to introduce up-and-coming local artists to a wider audience.
“This year we will present a very eclectic lineup of local musical talent, as well as an increased variety of foods and goods that are local in origin,” says festival founder Sam Veal. “We designed the festival with the millennial in mind. The millennial generation has a genuine commitment to enhancing Jacksonville with their energy, inventiveness and optimistic outlook. We feel the musical lineup and other festival offerings reflect their interests and spirit.”
Veal knows what it takes to put on a successful festival. As the executive director of Jax Beach Festivals, Veal is the driving force behind the successful Great Atlantic Music Festival and the internationally renowned George’s Music Springing the Blues Festival, which draws thousands of fans to the oceanfront pavilion each spring to celebrate the best in blues music.
When planning for the Community First Seawalk Music Festival, Veal focused his attention on the talents and the culture right in our own backyard. “This festival is different from other events because its primary purpose is to be reflective of the outstanding and unique aspect of our local creative community,” Veal says. “It is important to have an all-local festival, because it creates the greatest sense of community through focusing on the many diverse talents that are a vibrant part of our community and sharing that collection of talent in a festival atmosphere.”
As the city’s music scene continues to blossom, festival organizers want to emphasize the importance of supporting local artists by giving them a hometown venue to spread their wings. “Many of these young bands are on the cusp of a huge breakthrough,” says Terry Dixon, who serves as artistic director with Jax Beach Festivals. “They have tremendous energy, great stage presence, and deliver a feel that’s almost tangible. We’re excited to be able to give these artists a phenomenal venue where they can showcase their talent and gain new fans.”
The inaugural Community First Seawalk Music Festival was held in 2013 in partnership with Community First Credit Union. “We sponsor and support this event because of the commitment to local artists and local small businesses,” says John Hirabayashi, president and CEO of Community First Credit Union. “The event is a fun and free day for all ages and families in our community.”
For Veal, he is hopeful that “people can relax and enjoy themselves together with their friends and neighbors through the festival experience of local entertainment, local foods, local arts and crafts and exhibits of local goods and services by local businesses,” he says. “That is fundamental to fulfilling the purpose of our event.”