Beer? Check! Wine? Check! Sunblock, beach chair and blanket? Check, check, check! How could this Saturday get any better? Throw in live music and the surf and sand of Doheny Beach in Dana Point, California and you have the First Annual Driftwood at Doheny Beach Festival. And you couldn’t have asked for better weather, clear skies, mid to upper 70s throughout the afternoon dropping to a still comfortable mid-60s as the sun sunk into the Pacific Ocean. Sponsored by local country radio station KFRG, Driftwood wasn’t your average run-of-the-mill concert festival, it was a craft beer and wine fair which included over 100 mostly local craft beers and wines and the best part of it, ALL the beer and wine samples you could drink were included free with your admission price. Surprisingly, with all that free beer and wine flowing there were no incidents of violence or skirmishes anywhere that I witnessed—my conclusion, those country music fans know how to hold their beer. One would think that with 8,000 attendees, the lines for free beer and wine would resemble a Saturday afternoon at Disneyland, but that was not the case, with over 100 taps flowing the lines were shorter and moved much faster than the restroom lines.
The first artist Danny Worsnop (Asking Alexandria/We Are Harlot) took the stage at 1:00 pm and although they played mostly to empty blankets and lawn chairs the band did not let that deter them from putting on an energetic and impassioned show. They were followed by L.A. locals Mariachi El Bronx, a Mariachi rock band, who may have been received with mixed reviews, perhaps more a reflection of the crowd’s taste than the band’s talent. They put on a great, tight 20-minute set complete with a screamin’ brass section. Next up was fellow L.A. artist The White Buffalo, who definitely brought an R rating to the show with a handful of F-bombs. However, considering it was a 21 and over event, I can confidently say there were no children (or animals) harmed during their set. Again, being relatively early in the afternoon their crowd was not very large, but the faithful were pressed against the barrier singing (and cussing) along with every single lyric. Known as an Americana act, The White Buffalo certainly won over some country music fans that day.
With approximately 20-30 minute breaks in between bands, attendees roamed throughout the state beach, taking in some great food and products. Barbecue seemed to be a fan favorite, ribs, chicken, bacon-wrapped turkey legs, you name it. The sponsors and promoters did a fantastic job transforming the peaceful, serene coastal community into a rockin’ festival that was every bit aesthetically pleasing as it was audibly. With the free taste testing ending at 4:00 pm the festival went into the night with country music heavyweights, Parmalee, Thompson Square, Rodney Atkins and Jerrod Neimann rockin’ the night away to a large and very enthusiastic crowd.
As the first annual Driftwood at Doheny Beach drew to an end, the only conclusion one could draw was that it was a huge success with over 8,000 in attendance and dozens and dozens of vendors participating. Kudos to KFRG and their fellow sponsors for putting on an excellent event in South Orange County, an area desperately in need of more live music venues since the recent closing of Irvine Meadows. With one notch firmly etched in their belt, we look forward to next year.
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