STEELE CREEK — Moor up, Lake Wylie. The annual floating fest celebrating music and artistry on the water returns Saturday to the Cow Cove.
Lake Wylie Music Fest runs from 2 to 8 p.m. on the North Carolina side of the lake at the first large cove south of Buster Boyd Bridge. Access is by boat only. Organizers plan to kick off the event at 1:45 p.m. with a singalong.
“We have a special opening and closing this year,” said Jan Pendleton, who heads the Fest. “Just simple songs sung by some of the organizers and friends to set the tone and celebrate what we’re doing here.”
Lake Wylie Music Fest began in 2010 with monthly performances through the summer. The idea was to feature local, unique and up-and-coming artists where boaters could drop anchor and enjoy an evening on the lake. Organizers took a year off in 2012 and came back last year with one larger show, a model they’re keeping for this year’s Fest.
“Really excited about all of them,” Pendleton said of this year’s bands. “It’s a truly diverse line-up from classic rock to old-time bluegrass to Cajun rock to Motown style to country to pop to alt-rock.”
The Fest draws hundreds out to celebrate. As usual, there will be public participation. Fest performer Kennon Knight will hand out “boom whackers” to boaters and lead everyone in a rhythm and singing session.
“You give people instruments and you can move them to a musical consciousness,” Knight said. “It’s a connecting thing. That’s what this fest is about, bringing people together.”
Boom whackers are plastic – they float, if needed – sound tubes tuned to specific pitches. The plan is for Knight to be on a houseboat at center to cue others in a rendition of “Don’t Worry, Be Happy.”
“If it works, it’ll be awesome,” he said.
Here’s a look at what else the show offers this year:
• 2 p.m., Underground Detour Band. Band member David Barnhardt is a regular volunteer with Lake Wylie Music Fest, but this year he brings his band of classic rock performers. The group performs songs from the ’70s and ’80s.
• 3 p.m., Carson Hill. Releasing her first album, “In My Mind,” at age 16, Hill offers a mix of traditional, pop and folk music. She’ll play a solo acoustic set, as will her following act.
• 3:30 p.m., Steven James. A freshman chemical engineering student at Clemson in 2012, James put academics on hold to pursue a music career. His is a “country meets Motown” mix of baritone and falsetto vocals in new, catchy love songs.
• 4 p.m., Sonny Skyyz & the Rainmakers. This old school R&B group began in 2011. The group features hard-hitting, down home blues and rock, funk and pop sounds. The group performs regularly in the Charlotte area. Sonny Skyyz takes its name from its bass player, who brings strong bass lines to each performance.
• 4:45 p.m., Kennon Knight. Making his annual return to Lake Wylie Music Fest, Knight, drummer for Square Roots, will lead a percussion section of drumming and singing at the event.
• 5:15 p.m., The Briarhoppers. Born in 1934, The Briarhoppers bill themselves as the longest-running bluegrass band in the world. Performers have changed for the group celebrating 80 years, but the inspiration hasn’t. The group began when a radio advertiser wanted “a hillbilly band” for a product, and still plays those same sounds today.
• 6 p.m., Analog Daze. Their sound is a cross between so many different artists, it’s easier just to listen. With a “dusty psychedelia” of underground ’80s bands, Analog Daze is “punk gone country.” The Charlotte-based band are veterans of the local performance scene. They’re guitar heavy and feature original songwriting.
• 7 p.m., Breeze & The Bayou Blasters. They perform a “swamp-infused” take on classic rock, Motown and blues in something the band calls “AmeriCajun.” They include a southwest Louisiana native music instructor, a Pennsylvania veteran of multiple albums and a Charlotte nurse, who performs classical music on the harmonica.
For more information, visit lakewyliemusicfest.com.
John Marks • 803-831-8166