News Column

Aiken Music Fest: Debut festival features local talent, Jeep show

July 3, 2014

By Stephanie Turner, Aiken Standard, S.C.

July 03--Live music is not scarce in Aiken.

A few people noticed this and decided to take advantage of it.

On July 12, the Aiken Music Fest will finally make its debut.

"We have such a wealth of talent," Tony Baughman, event emcee said. "This festival showcases the best of that."

The festival will be at Highfields Event Center, 118 Gaston Road.

General admission tickets are $20, while children 10 and younger will be admitted for free.

Ticket prices for all active military, veterans and their families are $15.

Gates open at 2 p.m.

For more information or to purchase tickets, visit or call 803-649-3505.


Lined up for the event are seven local acts.

On the main stage are Preston and Weston featuring Sandra Simmons, Mike Frost Band, Anybody's Guess and Palmetto Groove.

Playing in between on the second stage will be All Bets R Off, Celia Gary and Bogie.

"There will be continually music," said Mike Frost, event co-organizer.

Frost was in charge of booking the musicians.

Below is the current music schedule:

--Preston and Weston: 3:30 to 4:30 p.m.

Saxophonist Wayne Preston and bassist-keyboardist David Weston make up the duo Preston and Weston.

Joining them will be Simmons, also known as the Lady in Red.

"The three have been entertaining audiences at local venues such as The Big Easy (since closed), Hotel Aiken, West Side Bowery, The Wine Cellar, Pat's Martini Bar and Rose Hill Estate for several years with spirited renditions of R&B classics, shag, beach and pop music. Their mix also includes jazz standards, reggae, blues and even some country," as stated on their website. "Preston and Weston have lots of vocals, lots of laughs and lots of fun."

--All Bets R Off: 4:30 to 5 p.m.

All Bets R Off began as a project of drummer Ken McDonald and his son, guitarist Corey McDonald.

The two have the goal to that "to play ear catching, foot tapping, get up and dance rock music," as stated on their website.

This cover band plays everything from late-1960s rock to modern country.

According to the band's website, bassist Andy Hood is the third band member.

--Mike Frost Band: 5 to 6:30 p.m.

Mike Frost is a teacher, musician and recording engineer from New York.

This bassist lives in Aiken and has performed around the nation.

While in Aiken, Frost's band consists of saxophonist Lauren Meccia, drummer Edwin Hamilton and keyboardist Shannon Pinkney.

--Celia Gary: 6:30 to 7 p.m.

Gary is a singer/songwriter originally from Wisconsin.

She has been playing the electric guitar since she was 12.

"Gary performs as frequently as possible and enjoys sharing her original music with the world hoping that people can connect with her songs," as stated on her website.

--Anybody's Guess: 7 to 8:30 p.m.

This variety band has been around for more than 10 years.

Its current band set-up includes drummer Steve Davis, guitarist Shawn Woodward, keyboardist-saxophonist James "J.D." Davis, bassist Davie Shull and guitarist Ben Newman.

Joining Anybody's Guess will be former member Dwight Bradham.

Bradham, a National Guard member, left the group when he was deployed.

He still plays regularly with them and will fill in for Woodward during the festival, Shull said.

"He's probably the best friend I got," Davis said. "It's an honor to play with him."

--Bogie: 8:30 to 9 p.m.

This local musician performs regularly around town.

He has appeared at The Red Pepper, Wingplace and the Cork & Bull Pub.

Earlier this summer, he played at the Carley's Rays of Hope 5K Color Splash event, an event in support of brain tumor research.

--Palmetto Groove: 9 to 10:30 p.m.

This beach band plays everything from rock to soul from the 1960's to current day.

According to its website, its current band members are trumpet-player Clay Killian, drummer Andrew Clemons, keyboardist Sam Morris, guitarist Ken Gabriel, bassist Rick Osbon, saxophonist Mike Terry and vocalist Brooke Lundy.

"The Palmetto Groove Band is a group of dynamic musicians whose energy and charisma will bring a high level of entertainment and enjoyment to your next event or special occasion," according to its website.

Jeep Show

For all the local music fans and advocates that own a jeep, the Aiken Music Fest has an extra part for you.

Part of the festival is the Jeep Invasion, where all jeep owners can roll in starting at 11 a.m.

If you own a classic Willys or Jeep, you can enter your vehicle into the Classic Willys Jeep Show.

The show's winner will receive a gift certificate from Kaiser Willys Auto Supply.

"Vehicles do not have to be fully restored to compete," said Rachel Hodgkins with Jeep Hunters.

Entrants must pay $35, which includes festival admission.

--Load-in will be from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

All entry forms must be submitted by July 10. Forms can be found on the music festival's website.

The show can be viewed by all festival-goers for no extra cost.

"Vintage civilian and military jeep models will by displayed at the event including Jeep CJs, trucks, wagons and Jeepsters from 1941 to 1971," Hodgkins said.

For more information, call 803-646-3509.


A goal of the festival is to make it family-friendly.

"We want a bunch of children to enjoy themselves and for patrons to feel safe to bring them here," Rick Cram of Progressive Show Jumping Inc said.

There will be an children's area, as well as a giant sprinkler.

Food vendors will be out selling items like barbecue.

Coolers are not allowed.

Leashed pets are permitted.

"There is a lot of talent in this town," Cram said. "We want to grow to showcase that."


(c)2014 the Aiken Standard (Aiken, S.C.)

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Source: Aiken Standard (SC)

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