Jammin’ On the Water: Tunes, Tribute Bands and Charleston Cruises
Celebrating its 4th consecutive year of growth, Jam On the Water, a Follywood production, continues to steal the hearts of those in search of entertainment throughout Charleston. What started out as a passion project for music lover Ben Bounds in 2016, quickly caught fire as show after show became an instant hit.
“I grew up a Parrot Head and a Deadhead, so the Charleston live music and festival scene was a natural fit for me. I think it’s the best place in the country to put on special events,” explains Bounds who founded Follywood in early 2010.
It’s not your average cover band on a boat tour, however. Instead, it’s well-known local bands all changing gears for one night only to cover one of their favorite musicians or bands—and giving their own fans an unexpected treat.
Local bands such as Folly Pirates Over 40 paying tribute to Jimmy Buffett; Sgt. Submarine covering The Beatles; and Wax Groove Revival rocking out to some classic Led Zeppelin. For every cruise that sets sail on the Carolina Queen, crown jewel of Charleston Harbor Tours, the crowds are happily divided: one half eager to see their favorite local band, while the other ready to get down with the tribute music de jour.
And get down they do. With 12 Jam On the Water events a year, the 2.5 hour cruises have only continued to grow in popularity.
“We had about 120 per cruise in the first year and we’re steadily doing over 200 each cruise now. It’s an intimate setting, maxing out at about 225-250 passengers—and it’s always a great time. It’s an easy way to doing something different. You can kill a few birds with one stone, too; set out on the water, listen to awesome music, enjoy the energy of the crowd, have a couple of cocktails and still get home in time to go to work in the morning. I think that’s a huge benefit to our community.”
There’s clearly a winning recipe in the mix. Their flagship band, The Reckoning, sells out every time they take to the water to cover the Grateful Dead. Other successful tributes have included Phish and all things 80s music. Now, for the first time ever, a highly anticipated country band is set to take stage mid August.
Together, Follywood and Charleston Harbor Tours have hosted guests from over 35 different states starting in early April all the way through mid-late November. For Bounds, this has been a partnership dream come true with both the charter company and the local talent.
“Working with Charleston Harbor Tours has been super professional and easy from day one. They do a great job of accommodating the passengers, and for me, that’s important. When it comes to finding and working with the local music community, I’ve been blown away by how genuinely eager the bands are to provide their fans with a new experience. I only see growth and evolution from here on out. It’s becoming so popular that I can see us getting even more creative in 2020. I love the idea of a possible album release party—we’ll just have to see.”
Tourist or local; music fan or fan of the water; original music or cover band. It doesn’t quite seem to matter the moment anyone steps foot aboard the Carolina Queen to hit the open water—everyone is always down to jam.