Be ready for fun as the festival celebrates its fifth anniversary
The Carolina Country Music Festival promises to take the party up a notch this year to celebrate its fifth anniversary. And a band celebrating its 50th anniversary will get it all started.
Alabama will kick off the four-day festival June 6 with a little “Mountain Music” on CCMF’s oceanfront stage, which sits just feet away from where the band got its start a half century ago at The Bowery. Alabama went on to sell more than 73 million albums, collect nearly 200 awards and be credited with broadening country music’s appeal to a wider audience.
“We always wanted to have Alabama, with their ties to Myrtle Beach and The Bowery,” said Mike Stephens, director of the Carolina Country Music Festival. “We just thought it would be perfect.”
But don’t overdo it the first night. The festival, which runs June 6–9, features more than 30 performers with headliners Dierks Bentley, Thomas Rhett and Florida Georgia Line, who is returning to the CCMF stage after wowing crowds in 2016.
Loyal CCMFers can expect all they’ve come to love about the festival—a party atmosphere with some of the genre’s biggest names on the oceanfront stage and up-and-coming artists showcased on a second stage.
“We really feel for the fifth anniversary, it’s our strongest and most diverse lineup,” Stephens said.
Then there’s everything else—the food, drinks, mini-party tents, a variety of vendors selling all your country gear, games and more. The festival’s layout consumes the former Myrtle Beach Pavilion site between 8th and 9th avenues North in the heart of Myrtle Beach.
CCMF has grown into one of country music’s biggest bashes of the year, attracting 113,000 fans over the festival’s four days last year (attendance has increased every year), Stephens said. CCMF has earned national nods—Billboard has named it the No. 4 best country music festival—and CMT aired hours of footage from the Myrtle Beach stage last year. CMT will be back to film this year, Stephens said.
“It’s crazy how fast five years goes and how big of a staple it’s become,” Stephens said. “We’ve made major progress.”
Organizers have learned a few lessons in the festival’s early years (remember when it started as a cashless event with all purchases being made through your wristband?) and have added features aiming to enhance the experience for festival-goers.
So grab your cowboy hat, slip on those boots and check out these five things you need to know before you head to the festival this year.
Want to enhance your festival experience? Organizers encourage CCMFers to download the app, which has all the information you need at your fingertips, including the artist lineup and a map of the festival site for locations of vendors, ATMs and more. You also can personalize your own schedule and sign up to receive notifications with the latest updates on what’s happening and tips for making the most of your CCMF experience.
“The app really is everything they need in front of them,” Stephens said. “Everybody has their phone in their hand. We want to make things easy for people so they can focus on the music, the experience and their friends.”
Watch for #CCMFBeKind as well, which took on a life of its own a few years ago to spotlight good deeds captured during the festival.
WHAT’S IN YOUR WALLET?
CCMFers can make purchases during the festival with cash, credit card or their wristband—you can load money onto it before arriving.
That’s been a welcome change for festival-goers. The event started five years ago as a cashless festival—all purchases had to be made using your wristband; no cash or credit cards accepted. That didn’t go over too well with many fans. “That’s definitely one thing we learned,” Stephens said.
While you’re grabbing your cash or credit card, don’t forget your ID. If you plan to buy alcoholic beverages, you’ll need it.
CLEAR BAGS ONLY
Better slip that wallet in a clear bag and leave your regular bag at home. Last year, the festival implemented a clear-bag-only policy to streamline entry and enhance safety in the aftermath of the shooting at the country music-themed Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas in October 2017 that killed 58 people. Small clutch bags that are about the size of a hand are still OK.
MORE TO DO
CCMF always brings the party, but this year organizers are ramping it up. It will be more convenient to access the zipline and ropes course—it won’t be fenced off, which created hurdles for festival-goers wanting to take a ride.
“It’s inside the festival this year, so it will make it easier,” Stephens said.
Some vendors also are kicking it up a notch, with enhanced areas and technology to scan your wristband to send your souvenir photo so you don’t have to walk around carrying it.
“We are always trying to improve our on-site experience,” Stephens said.
CCMF also is going all out to celebrate its fifth anniversary milestone. Stephens declined to give specifics, but said there will be some fun surprises for CCMFers. And, of course, there will be plenty of merchandise to buy with the fifth anniversary logo.
BRUSH UP ON THE BANDS
Sure, you know some of their tunes. But learn more about this year’s headliners:
After getting their start playing at The Bowery in Myrtle Beach, Alabama went on to broaden the appeal of country music with the members’ rebel long hair, loud guitars and hits like “Song of the South” and “Dixieland Delight.”
Many locals are partial to “Dancin,’ Shaggin’ on the Boulevard,” the band’s 1997 hit that is an ode to Myrtle Beach with shoutouts to icons such as Peaches Corner, the Magic Attic, the Sun Fun Festival, Mother Fletcher’s and many others. Parts of the video, of course, were filmed in Myrtle Beach and feature shots of the Pavilion, Peaches Corner and the view from the city’s most famous street—Ocean Boulevard.
Alabama not only made lots of records, but also set records for their success. The band has sold more than 75 million albums and charted 43 No. 1 singles, including 21 in a row—a record unlikely to be broken. They have collected nearly 200 awards, including nods from the Country Music Association, Academy of Country Music, Grammys and more. They are in the Country Music Hall of Fame and even have a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
With hits such as “What Was I Thinkin’” and “Drunk on a Plane,” Dierks Bentley is known for his own kind of sound in country music—a mix of elements from modern and classic country, bluegrass and rock. The Phoenix native—who drove with his father to Nashville when Dierks was 19—has logged more than 15 No. 1 songs and released nine albums; the most recent, The Mountain, was released last year. Bentley, a singer and songwriter, has earned a number of music awards, including Grammys, CMAs, CMT awards and others. He’s also a member of the Grand Ole Opry.
Singer-songwriter Thomas Rhett will hit the CCMF stage about a week after the May 31 release of his fourth studio album, Center Point Road. The first single from the album, “Look What God Gave Her,” is a catchy, uptempo tune that was released in March. He’s also scored hits with songs like “Die a Happy Man” and “Marry Me” and written songs for other country performers such as Jason Aldean and Scotty McCreery. You might say he was almost born into country music, the son of singer Rhett Akins. Thomas Rhett has collected a number of awards from the Country Music Association, Academy of Country Music, Billboard, CMT, iHeartRadio and more.
Florida Georgia Line
Florida Georgia Line is the only headliner returning to the CCMF stage. The duo, which has mashed musical genres with hits such as “Cruise” and “Meant to Be,” performed at CCMF in 2016. The band—Brian Kelley from Ormond Beach, Florida, and Tyler Hubbard from Monroe, Georgia—has exceeded 4.2 billion streams, 31 million tracks and more than 4.3 million albums sold. They’ve collected awards from the American Music Association, Academy of Country Music, Country Music Association, CMT and others. They also received Billboard’s first Trailblazer Award for their “forward-thinking approach to their art and business.”
If you go:
Carolina Country Music Fest
When | June 6–9 - Gates open at 6 p.m. June 6 for the kick-off concert featuring Alabama. Gates open at 1 p.m. June 7–9.
Where | Former Myrtle Beach Pavilion Amusement Park site, 812 N. Ocean Boulevard, Myrtle Beach
Performers | 30 artists, including Alabama, Dierks Bentley, Thomas Rhett and Florida Georgia Line
More Info | carolinacountrymusicfest.com
PHOTOGRAPHS BY SCARBOROUGH PHOTOGRAPHY AND COURTESY OF THE CAROLINA COUNTRY MUSIC FEST