By Scott Ward

Country music fans love the beach just as much as the next guy and they proved it Saturday at the first ever Driftwood Festival. Doheny State Beach provided the only-in-California setting for a great day of music, craft beer, and camaraderie. The artists themselves were commenting on the festival grounds and the enthusiastic audience. “Cool” was the word most often spoken by the Driftwood Festival performers when commenting on the show. One by one, they delivered crowd pleasing sets of familiar radio hits and carefully chosen CD cuts to keep feet moving and butts shaking.

Regional artists Danny Worsnop, Mariachi El Bronx, and The White Buffalo set the tone for the day; Mariachi El Bronx was cited repeatedly by the headlining artists as a favorite amongst the unsigned opening acts. As the sun began it’s slow descent into the horizon, North Carolina band Parmalee took the stage and immediately changed the energy on the festival grounds. The opening notes of “I’ll Bring The Music” let fans know this was the start of a special night. Familiar favorites like “I’m Already Calling You Mine” and “Close Your Eyes” were well-received. Some were taken aback by the piano intro on the band’s current single, “Roots,” Parmalee’s tribute to their namesake hometown and Southern values. Lead vocalist Matt Thomas invited everyone to singalong on the closing number ( their signature song) “Carolina.”
I’ll Bring The Music
I’m Already Calling You Mine
Day Drinking
Damn I Just Want To Kiss You
Musta Had A Good Time

Thompson Square took the stage next. Exhausted and exhilarated as new parents, Keifer and Shawna Thompson let the audience know they had no intention of tapping the brakes. The fuzzy rock guitar opening of “Trans Am” screamed a wake up call to anyone who may have mellowed from the craft beer and the sinking sun. Classic rock guitar riffs and hooks interplayed with country radio hits like “If I Didn’t Have You” to create a bit of magic.
Trans Am
Everything I Shouldn’t Be Thinking About
You Make It Look So Good
if I Didn’t Have You
(A half dozen or so classic rock covers served as intros for the various T2 band members)
I Got You
Are You Gonna Kiss Me Or Not

Rodney Atkins quiet demeanor can be quite misleading. This guy can bring it….and the Driftwood Festival fans figured that out quickly. Hit after hit mixed with a few choice covers went over with loud approval. Flanked by his wife and ace vocalist, Rose Falcon, Rodney owned the stage and had the crowd wanting more by the time he closed with “If You’re Going Through Hell.” Expect a strong comeback from Rodney in 2017!
Farmer’s Daughter
About The South
He’s Mine
Take A Backroad
It’s America
Friends With Tractors
Friday Night (Eric Paslay cover sung by Rose Falcon)
Cleaning This Gun
These Are My People
Watching You
If You’re Going Through Hell

The first annual Driftwood Festival wrapped up with the all-out good time sounds of Jerrod Niemann. The guy sings about parties just as convincingly as he sings about heartache. A writer and musician who is committed to his craft, Jerrod is just as committed to taking his fans on a journey that brings them back with a smile and a head full of great memories. Niemann may have been the perfect choice to close the first edition of this soon-to-be fall tradition.
Zero To Crazy
One More Drinking Song
I Ain’t All There
Lover, Lover
Bucking Song
Shinin’ On Me
A Pirate Looks At Forty (Jimmy Buffet cover)
Buzz Back Girl
A Little More Love
What Do You Want
Out Of My Heart
Drink To That All Night
Pride And Joy (Stevie Ray Vaughan cover)
Santeria (Sublime cover)
Mountain Music (Alabama cover)

The Driftwood Festival played to about 8,000 fans on Saturday November 12 at Doheny State Beach. Festival organizers were pleased with the turnout and enthusiasm of the audience, so pleased that they are already planning on doing it again next year. As the song says, it all started with a beer……


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