For the first time, the annual event added a second stage to offer more musical acts, increasing the lineup to seven artists. Country artist Darius Rucker returned to Rock Fore! Dough this year as the headliner. Also performing on the main stage were Corey Smith, Needtobreathe and The Farm Inc.
On the side stage, musical acts included local artists Jaycie Ward and Five’s A Crowd and Tim Brantley.
It was Rucker’s fifth time performing at Rock Fore! Dough and his second time appearing solo. With plans to release a new single by the end of April and a new album in the fall, the former front man of the popular rock band Hootie & the Blowfish was scheduled to perform new music and old favorites.
A golf fan, Rucker said he’ll watch the Masters Tournament on TV this year.
“I’ve been blessed enough to get to go a few times and watch the tournament. I love watching it on TV. I love watching every single shot. I’m like that geek that wants to see every shot, so Saturday and Sunday I’ll be glued to the TV all day,” he said.
Some locals have become regulars at Rock Fore! Dough. John Hutcherson, of Augusta, said this is his fourth year attending the concert, and it’s the sixth year for his wife, Amy. They meet their friends at the concert every year and staked out their spot on the grass at 3 p.m. Tuesday. The early birds sit in the same place every year, he said.
“It’s great. I love the atmosphere. I love the music,” Hutcherson said. “We love Darius Rucker. He’s awesome. I think anything he sings is great. He’s a great artist. I just think it’s wonderful that they put this on.”
Virginia Hagopian, of Augusta, has come to Rock Fore! Dough since the event first started. A Smith fan, she was looking forward to hearing him perform, as well as Rucker. She attended this year’s concert with her husband, their 9-month-old son and her sister’s family.
“I really enjoy the music and just coming with friends. It’s a good place to come hang out. It’s sort of tradition to come,” Hagopian said.
Rock Fore! Dough also featured local talent. Jaycie Ward, a 14-year-old pop country artist from Beech Island, performed the national anthem and some of her original songs.
“I’m so excited,” Jaycie said before the show. “I feel sort of special to be able to do that. Some people aren’t able to do this.”
The Jackson Middle School pupil said she has performed for eight years and will soon enter the studio to work on an album. So far, she has performed at mostly private occasions in the area, as well as the Kicks 99 Guitar Pull and A Day in the Country, she said.
All proceeds of the Rock Fore! Dough concert will support the chapter of the First Tee Network. The local organization’s mission includes promoting healthy choices through the game of golf and providing an affordable and accessible golf facility, primarily to those who have not had exposure to the game.
During the past six years, Rock Fore! Dough has raised $510,000 for First Tee of Augusta, according to a release.
Smith also returned to Rock Fore! Dough this year, after a year of success with his album The Broken Record. He said he planned to perform songs from his previous seven albums.
“I’ve played in Augusta a lot of times, but this is my second time at this event. It’s great. I’m more comfortable because I know what the event is all about now. I feel at home,” he said. “I think it’s a great event, too. Any time you have young people involved in some type of constructive activity to keep them out of trouble, it’s a good thing.”
A native of nearby Jefferson, Ga., Smith said he got his start playing at Wild Wing Café. He has also performed at Imperial Theatre, The Blue Horse, the Guitar Pull at James Brown Arena and the amphitheater by the river, he said.
Needtobreathe made its debut appearance at Rock Fore! Dough this year, after appearing on more than 80 tour dates with Taylor Swift and performing 175 shows in the past year. The band was scheduled to perform hits from their newest record, The Reckoning, which debuted on the Billboard Chart at No. 6, according to a release. Needtobreathe will soon release a video for the single Keep Your Eyes Open, band member Bear Rinehart said.
“I’ve been down here for the tournament a few times, but it’s the first time playing here. I’m going (to the Masters) on Sunday. I’m excited,” Rinehart said.
Rock ’n’ roll artist Tim Brantley said he has played at several venues, including Downstairs Live and Lake Olmstead Stadium. He’s working on his third album, which will be released this summer. A few of his songs have been played on the radio in Augusta, he said.