Now in its 17th season, Music by the Sea gives residents and visitors the chance to kick off their flip flops and enjoy a wide array of musical genres while chowing down on local fare. Just a stone’s throw from the Atlantic Ocean, the popular free music series kicked off in mid-May with a 19-show line-up featuring everything from ‘80s tribute tunes to jazz and Tie-Dye Rock.
Headed up by the folks at the St. Augustine Beach Civic Association, a volunteer group comprised of active community members like President Bill Jones, Executive Vice President Bob Samuels, Treasurer Frank Ward, Secretary Hester Longstreet and Director Rich Galik, Music by the Sea has been going strong since its inception in 2003. “The vision of Robert and Andrea Samuels, the Samuels’ noticed that there was this beautiful pavilion that was rarely used,” says Bill, a St. Augustine Beach resident and owner of ProShow DJ Service, of St. Johns County Ocean Pier Pavilion. “Our first event was a three-piece band and a guy cooking hotdogs on a Coleman camping stove in the corner of the pavilion. Over time, the concert series grew and became a weekly event.”
With the help of current sponsors like Eclipse Recording Studio, The Bailey Group, and our local Visitors and Convention Bureau, Music by the Sea now attracts over 25,000 attendees each year and has grown from just three concerts in that first year to now nearly 20.“With notoriety came more interest from entertainers,” Bill explains. “We receive solicitations from over 120 bands a year and have been able to book bigger names like Rock and Roll Hall of Famers Denny Laine [The Moody Blues]…or, this year, one of the world’s finest slide guitar players, Peter Karp of Atlanta.”
Produced and run entirely by volunteers, Music by the Sea has made a huge impact on the local community. Aside from once-a-year events like the Sing Out Loud Festival and Rhythm & Ribs, there aren’t a ton of opportunities for area musicians to play to large crowds. Music by the Sea gives groups like Grapes of Roth and Chillula a welcoming stage with a hometown audience.
Neighborhood restaurants also benefit. With an average concert attendance of nearly a thousand people, local eateries feed a hungry swarm of music lovers. “The first show had about 45 attendees, which included the band,” Bill says of the inaugural series in 2003. “Today, weather dependent, we welcome anywhere from 400 to 1,200 concertgoers. It’s been amazing to watch it grow over the years and a lot of it is thanks to Bob and Andrea Samuels, the series founders.”
Learn more about music by the sea by visiting www.sabca.org. Photography by Wayne Fusco.