As the mercury rose Saturday afternoon, so did enthusiasm for the inaugural Day By the River Memorial music festival. When the barometer, and rain, fell, enthusiasm remained, albeit in a different location.
The event at Jessye Norman Amphitheater was in honor of Augusta sound man Lee Laurence, who died 10 years ago to the day while on the road with the band Day By the River. Proceeds will benefit the historic Georgia Theatre, the Athens venue that sustained massive damage during a fire earlier this year.
Augusta acts and acts with Augusta ties played, including Fried Goat, Tara Scheyer and the Mud Puppy Band, Snap Dragon, Shaun Piazza, Grady Nickel, Stewart & Winfield, In Like Flynn, Bloodkin and Dead Confederate.
Early crowds were sparse and chased the shade, sticking to the slightly cooler seats near the top of the venue. As the day went on, crowds and enthusiasm increased as clouds moved in and the temperature dipped.
"It's cool to bring this venue back," Alan Beattie said. "It's cool to rejuvenate this area of downtown. That's part of the reason I'm here."
Local ties also played a significant role. Many in attendance knew members of at least one act on the bill. Jessica Nash said she knew members of Dead Confederate and wanted to support both the concert and her friends.
"And it's something fun do to on a Saturday afternoon, a good lineup and a good cause," she said.
As Stewart & Winfield wrapped its set, the cooling clouds became the bearers of heavy rain, drenching the concert site. After about 30 minutes of heavy storming, organizers pulled the plug and moved the entire production to the Broad Street nightclub Sky City.
"We just feel like that's what we have to do," event organizer Coco Rubio said.
Hardy Morris, who plays with headlining act Dead Confederate, showed up about six hours before his band was scheduled to play. Milling casually in the crowd, he said that rain or not, this was more than just another gig for his busy band.
"There's a lot to this. With the theater and Lee, it's important. It's also (organizers) Coco and Brian Brittingham. They have always supported this band, and when they ask, you just do it."
Mr. Morris said that because Dead Confederate will be playing in Europe and then on the West Coast with the Meat Puppets, it felt proper to do a final Southeast show.
"It's a good send-off," he said.
Mr. Rubio arrived on site early, about 7:30 a.m., after wrapping '80s Night at the Soul Bar at 3:30 a.m. Though fatigued, he said a sense of enthusiasm kept him going.
"I feel it now, and I felt it this morning," he said. "There are so many people here that haven't seen each other in a long time, that are glad to be here, glad to be in this spot."
Dry or not.
Reach Steven Uhles at (706) 823-3626 or firstname.lastname@example.org.