Pleasure + Island + seafood + blues = Gregg Allman

19th Annual Pleasure Island Seafood & Blues Festival
October is one of my favorite times at the beach.  Hell, any time of the year is my favorite if the ocean is involved. But fall is just a little more special. The air crackles. The sea reclaims itself after the throngs of tourists have gone home, and yes, the water might even be a little deeper blue.  That’s never more true every year than during the second weekend in October when the beach throws one of the best parties on the coast.  For nineteen years, the residents of the strand known as Pleasure Island, home to Carolina Beach, Kure Beach, and historic Fort Fisher, have quietly built stages, set up booths to house a handful of local well-known seafood vendors, and invited some of the cream of the blues crop to come on down and play at the Pleasure Island Seafood, Blues and Jazz Festival right there on the banks of the Cape Fear River. And then they turn around and invite us to come on down too!  The Saturday night headliner this year is Greg Allman.

I was a reluctant first timer in 2010 when Leon Russell was the Saturday night big name artist. Been there, done that with festivals. I like little intimate venues where it feels like I’m yay-far from the stage and feeling up-close-and-personal with who I’ve come to see. Yes, I’m one of those … I want to see the sweat on the brow and the crazy faces the guys in the band make.  It turned out to feel like someone’s ginormous backyard party (albiet a really big, cool backyard that has a view of the Cape Fear),  and we were not all that many lawn chairs away from stage left. But wait. Two days of nearly non-stop music? More stages? Smaller ones, scattered around the park … one for blues, one for jazz … one of which was so close to the Cape Fear River you could almost party on the boats gathered off-shore. Local food vendors were filling bowls and baskets with seafood chowder, fried shrimp, and other goodies that were right out of the sea only days ago.

I even ran into a healthy handful of friends from Chapel Hill and Carrboro who begged me not to give away the secret. A tattooed, pony-tailed man from New Jersey who had perfected the slow rock that usually only true Southerners can claim, went lazily back and forth next to me in a big old rocking chair and told me he’d been riding his Harley down since Johnny and Edgar Winter headlined in 2008. He, like those before him, wanted it to remain a well-kept secret. 2009 featured Delbert McClinton, and 2011 brought in Jimmy Vaughn. It’s not just about the headliner. Opening for Allman is the Jaimoe Jasssz Band. Die hard fans will recognize Jaimoe as the legendary drummer and founding member of the Allman Brothers Band.  You can also catch the Polar Bear Blues Band featuring Harvey Dalton Arnold (bass player and former member of The Outlaws), Damon Fowler, and a handful of some of North Carolina’s own homegrown blues artists.  My pop-up chair is already in the car.

19th Annual Pleasure Island Seafood & Blues Festival
presenting Gregg Allman
Oct. 13 & 14, 2012
FortFisher Military Recreation Area
Kure Beach, NC
910-458-8434
Gates Open 11:00
Two-Day Ticket in Advance – $40
Saturday Only – $50
Sunday Only –  $15
Children 12 and under Free

Follow the Pleasure Island Seafood Blues and Jazz Festival on Facebook.
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