News Column

Swanfest and EmeraldFest bring music to the coast

May 23, 2014

By Katie Hansen, The Daily News, Jacksonville, N.C.

May 23--Beginning this weekend, Sunday evenings in Swansboro will include music along the waterfront.

Swanfest kicks off this weekend from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at the Pugliese Pavilion with free live music. The concert series, which draws hundreds to the seaside Onslow County town, is under the auspices of the Seaside Arts Council, along with EmeraldFest. The music event in Emerald Isle takes place on Thursday evenings starting in June.

Angie Cooper, co-president of the Seaside Arts Council, said SwanFest, which brings approximately 300 to 400 visitors on an average weekend, offering a chance for local talent to be heard by tourists and locals alike.

But local musicians are not the only ones performing -- Chris Cavanaugh, a singer from Nashville is back for a return performance this year. Cavanaugh, originally from Springfield, Mo., has opened for Thompson Square, Lee Brice, Montgomery Gentry and Eric Church. His single "Country As I Wanna Be" is available on iTunes.

SwanFest t-shirts will be sold at the concerts this year -- and in an unusual way.

Jack Harnatkiewicz who owns Bake, Bottle & Brew in downtown Swansboro with his wife Debbie, will shoot t-shirts from a t-shirt gun to people in the crowd throughout the concerts. The t-shirts will come from local businesses, the SwanFest shirts, and old t-shirts from events in the community throughout the year.

This is the second year they have been sponsors of Swansfest.

"It gives people something to do, it adds more culture," he said. Harnatkiewicz added that the concert series "exposes the local community to what's going on down here."

Harnatkiewicz said the event draws a varied crowd of "8 to 80," because the atmosphere is friendly and comfortable and offers a chance to enjoy the outdoors.

Justin Castellano plays at both SwanFest and EmeraldFest this season and has played in the past.

Castellano plays an eclectic mix of music, from Motown tunes to Spanish guitar, Jack Johnson, Eric Clapton and Temptations covers.

He calls his covers "original covers," meaning he plays his own arrangement of the songs.

Castellano said he enjoys playing both of the outdoor concert series. EmeraldFest is right on the beach, so often times beachgoers stumble upon the concert.

"It's really just a great afternoon out...a relaxing afternoon you can share with your family," he said, adding that it's a unique opportunity to see live music for free and in a family-friendly venue, opposed to places like bars or other adult-oriented venues.

"It's the kind of thing I would take my son to," he said. For aspiring musicians, Castellano said it is a great opportunity to drink in the live music and learn about the craft some more.

Alesia Sanderson, Director of Emerald Isle Parks and Recreation, said the community looks forward to the concert series which takes place each Thursday in the summers at the Western Ocean Regional Access facility in the summers. The concerts, which run from 6:30 to 8 p.m. are right on beach at the facility which is located off Islander Drive, one block East of Coast Guard Road intersection. The first concert for EmeraldFest season is June 19 and they run through Aug. 21.

According to Sanderson, last year EmeraldFest drew a crowd of 150 to 200 people on average each week, but it "continues to grow and draw larger attendance," each year.

The concerts attract local residents and tourists alike.

"It's a great opportunity to showcase local talent and introduce them to our local residents," Sanderson said.

The Parks and Rec department encourages people to bring a picnic meal, blankets and lawn chairs to the free concert. There is no charge for the event or for parking.

"It is great free family entertainment," she said. "You get to meet a lot of people and socialize with your neighbors."

Sanderson said it's not uncommon to see kids dancing on the grass, and the sand volleyball courts are nearby for people to play while they listen.

In addition to automobile parking, Sanderson said they have bicycle racks out at the facility.

Attendees are welcome to bring coolers with drinks, as long as they are not alcohol or in glass containers.

The facility also has public restrooms nearby, and local restaurants.

Debbie Peel, who is the current Seaside Arts Council secretary, said the outdoor concerts have views that just cannot be beat.

"Just the atmosphere is something other venues can't offer," she said, adding that the concerts are great places to meet new people.

To learn how to become a member and enjoy shows throughout the year with the Seaside Arts Council's Performing Arts Series, visit



Concerts take place from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Sundays beginning May 25 at the Pugliese Pavilion in downtown Swansboro.

The concerts are free and attendees are welcome to bring food, blankets and lawn chairs. No pets or alcohol are allowed.

May 25 -- 40 East Band (country/pop/rock)

June 1 -- Drew Questell (blues)

June 8 -- Wild Honey (blues/country/rock)

June 15 -- Shivering Timbers (folk rock)

June 22 -- Notorious Clamslammers (variety)

June 29 -- Chalwa (reggae)

July 6 -- Chris Cavanaugh (country)

July 13 -- Trophy Husbands (party, variety)

July 20 -- Bobby Miller and The Virginia Dare Devils (bluegrass)

July 27 -- Justin Castellano (eclectic)

Aug. 3 -- Andy & Kathryn Karg (lover's harmony)

Aug. 10 -- Aqoostix (eclectic, eccentric)

Aug. 17 -- Big Drink (acoustic rock)

Aug. 24 -- Beaucoup Blue (blues)

Aug. 31 -- Acoustic Hwy (country/rock)

Sept. 7 -- Unknown Tongues (zydeco)

Sept. 14 -- Scearce & Ketner (seagrass)


Concerts are from 6:30 to 8 p.m. each Thursday beginning June 19 at the Western Ocean Regional Access facility. Concerts are free and attendees are welcome to bring food, blankets and lawn chairs. No alcohol or glass containers are allowed.

June 19 -- Pure T Mommicked (rock / alternative)

June 26 -- My Three Kilts (Irish)

July 3 -- 4EverAll (pop / variety)

July 10 -- Justin Castellano (eclectic)

July 17 -- Hank Barbee

July 24 -- Redneck Juliets (country / originals)

July 31 -- Dependable Taxi (pop / alternative)

Aug. 7 -- Wild Honey (blues / country / rock)

Aug. 14 -- Scearce & Ketner (Carolina pirate rock)

Aug. 21 -- Big Drink (acoustic / rock)


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