Futile Effort to Plan for Public Gathering is Cast Asunder by the Fickle Whim of Nature | Eastern North Carolina Now

The BoCO Music Festival, planned by the Beaufort County Arts Council and the Beaufort County Traditional Music Association, fell prey to the erratic weather of a blustery Spring Day in Washington.

    Publisher's Note: In the better late than never category, I am publishing my short account of the BoCO Music Festival. We will appreciate, and post, any of our reader's remembrances of this crazy weekend.

    On this Saturday, April 16, 2011, with a large white tent set up along the waterfront near the Beaufort County Chamber of Commerce, billowing at its edges by the force of the unrelenting gale, and the community stage near the North Carolina Esturarium - unused and forgotten for the day - the BoCO Music Festival carried on as best it could. Under the fluttering stretched canvas, upon the raised stage of the waterfront sited tent, traditional country music wafted in the air, and welcomed the stragglers searching for that sound,who braved the bold weather of the blustery day.
The well mentioned blustery day as evidenced by the waves and the rocking sailboats: Above. The sparse, but loyal crowd of music lovers wait for the next act: Below.      images by Stan Deatherage

     The music festival, planned by the Beaufort County Arts Council and the Beaufort County Traditional Music Association, fell prey to the erratic weather of a blustery spring day in Washington, North Carolina. Joey Toler, Executive Director of the Beaufort County Arts Council, scurried from one locale to another all day, just trying to make the best of a bad situation.

    Joey confided to me later that evening, "It's been a trying day if nothing else. I think we have learned much about what not to do next year. If not for this terrible weather, we would be crowing about our success, rather than crying in this beer that will cost us more than we would have made if we had much better weather."

    Due to the intractable authority residing in the ABC Permitting agent, the BoCO Music Festival would have lost money on the prospective beer garden, irrespective of the City of Washington's decision to close the Civic Center due to the Tornado Watch. The strict interpretation of the permit by the ABC authorities stipulated that once the Beer Garden was moved to the Civic Center, the frosty beverage could no longer be sold as a commodity of refreshment, and therefore great value lost amidst the true fans of good music.
John Howie (guitar) and the Sweethearts (Billy Feather on bass, with Justin Casey of Carolina Still helping out on banjo: Above. I don't know the band, but this shot well exemplifies the wind that day: Below.      images by Stan Deatherage

    Such as this was the infamous start of the festival's second day, which appeared to be ending nearly as soon as it began due to the gale force wind, and the promise of worse weather to come. The interlaced whirl of the music and the wind serenaded the loyal patrons still left under the tarp.

    As tenuous as the logistics had become that morning, due to the wild wind and the immutable threat of wilder weather, by that afternoon the tarp covered stages along the waterfront, and the yet to be opened beer garden, became untenable. The beer dispensary, full of standard Anheuser Busch fare, and the music acts were moved to the relative safety of Washington's Civic Center.
Lipbone Redding kicked off the festival with his usual quality show, where he leads his orchestra into his original arrangements that is the best of Rhythm & Blues and Soul: Above. Need some brass accompaniment? Lipbone needs only his lips and full lung chambers of hot air - hence the name Lipbone: Below.      images by Stan Deatherage

    Irrespective, and in spite, of the predicted line of fierce thunderstorms promised for Saturday afternoon and evening, the festival was inaugurated on Friday evening by the this season's first Music in the Streets in downtown Washington. Moreover for true music lovers, shortly after 8:00 pm, local legend Lipbone Redding, and the Lipbone Orchestra, straggled to the stage of the Turnage Theater. For those of us who love sweet soul delivered with the punch of Latin flavored rhythm and blues, Lipbone is the real deal. My critical opinion of the man's music: I never miss Lipbone and the boys when they are in the area. It was a fitting start to this wild weekend. A weekend, especially Saturday, that will be remembered by many here Down East.

    The festival, in spite of all its promise to be a gathering of musicians and music lovers, was struggling by mid afternoon that Saturday to continue, and remain relevant. That afternoon, when the straight-on-gales, blowing down the Pamlico River, along Washington's waterfront became unrelenting, it was definitely time to retire to the BoCO Music Festival's fallback stage of choice - the Washington Civic Center. With the sporadic rain slicing horizontally through the billowing tent walls, it did appear to be a wise decision by the festival organizers to have booked that stage at the last minute to accommodate the entertainers, in case of this most inclement weather.

    The bands came to the Civic Center, but many of the music fans now stayed away. Mingling amongst the sparse crowd, while some of the bands readied in the wings, a traveling troupe known as The Shadow Players played pirates from the "Days of Yore" ... and lore.

    I left the Civic Center for a late lunch, and a later date at the gym with my wife. While we were at the gym - LifeStyles behind the Beaufort County Medical Center - we watched the weather channel, only to notice what we all here in Washington had been warned of: A line of powerful thunderstorms spawning violent tornadoes from Sanford northeast through Raleigh, and to the North Carolina / Virginia state line, and heading this way.

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