2015 ENTERTAINMENT HIGHLIGHTS                                                                                         

Boat Parade on the May River and Blessing of the Fleet 

Admiral of the Fleet Captain Stephen Shoemaker
Our Admiral will lead the Boat Parade and Blessing of the Fleet on the May River during the opening ceremonies of the Eleventh Annual Historic Bluffton Arts & Seafood Festival on Sunday, October 11 at 4:00pm. Our Admiral is well deserving of this honor.  Capt. Stephen Shoemaker has been in the lowcountry his entire life. He was born and raised in Ridgeland, SC.  One of his first boat trips was crossing over to Hilton Head Island before there was a bridge. After serving in the Navy during Vietnam he came back to the low country and entered the shrimping business in the early 70's. Four different shrimp boats and twenty five years later he retired from theindustry but remained on the water Captaining ferry boats between Daufuskie Island and Hilton Head. 

After twenty years crossing the Calibogue Sound he decided to join his son's business and now operates a water taxi between Daufuskie and Bluffton and guides various other excursions along the May River. Capt. Stephen has spent over 40 years working in low country waters. Today Capt. Stephen lives in Bluffton on the May River where he has spent the last 30 years. 

Lavon Stevens
Lavon Stevens is known for his Soulful Jazz, Contemporary and Blues music. A native of Savannah, Ga. Lavon began singing and playing piano at the age of 7. He began performing in local groups across the Southeast at the age of thirteen. His first instrument was the violin. He later studied voice and piano at Dekalb College in Atlanta, Ga. from 1979 to 1983.

He has traveled and performed all over the country including Aspen,Co., Atlanta, Ga. and Orlando, Fla. The resort vacation destination of Hilton Head Island, SC has been his home since 1981. He is one of the premier entertainers in Hilton Head Island, SC. Lavon is affiliated with BMI as a Publisher/Songwriter.

He serves on the board as a member of The Hilton Head Symphony Orchestra and is one of the music producers for The Native Island Gullah Festival. He is very active with The Junior Jazz Foundation at The Jazz Corner and he is also a member of the Circle of Songs organization. His CD "I See Love" was released in 1996 and features all original compositions. He is producing a variety of shows and recording projects including other R&B, Jazz, and Gospel artists.

This is a wonderful opportunity to enjoy a leisurely picnic lunch on the bluff of the May River and be entertained by the music and boat parade. What better way to begin our festival! Plan to join us at 4:00 PM on the grounds of The Church of the Cross at the end of Calhoun Street for a memorable time.


Sallie Ann Robinson 
Celebrity chef, television personality, and cookbook author Sallie Ann Robinson is a sixth-generation native of Daufuskie Island, South Carolina, renowned for her culinary expertise, entertaining presentations, and knowledge of Southeastern United States Gullah culture. Chef Robinson has maintained a notable presence on national television, in popular magazines and at the podium for more than a decade.

Chef Robinson first attained national prominence as a character named Ethel (based on real-life events), one of the students portrayed in famed author Pat Conroy’s novel, The Water Is Wide. Since its publication in 1972, the novel has inspired stage adaptations as well as two major movie productions. In 2003, the University of North Carolina Press published Robinson’s first book, Gullah Home Cooking the Daufuskie Way. The book successfully combined sea island recipes with personal memoir and drew critical praise from diverse reviewers. Publication of her second cookbook, Cooking the Gullah Way, Morning, Noon, and Night, followed in 2007. Once again, critics and readers alike praised the author for the storytelling quality of memoir in the book, the authenticity of the recipes, and the tasty results achieved when trying them. A third cookbook is scheduled for publication in 2015. Chef Robinson conducts cooking demos locally and nationally, conducts tours/lectures about the history of Daufuskie Island and caters for private functions.

Patricia Elaine Sabree On June 14, 2010, Sabree left the teaching profession as an Art instructor to pursue her love for Art full time.  "It was one of the toughest decisions I have ever made, but one that needed to be made," proclaims Sabree. Sabree is still an early riser - getting up on Mondays - Fridays at 5:00 a.m to work on her paintings.  Her goals are to educate/inform the world about the richness of the Gullah culture; to support and foster awareness of the importance of the Arts in public education; and most importantly, to become an established artist doing what she loves most - Art.  Her daughter, Faridah, champions beside her as her manager.  Faridah once said to her mom, "I'm gonna do whatever it takes to see that you are successful.  You have raised me and Ameenah literally by yourself. you sacrificed so much for us to have a college education."  Faridah took a back seat to her career as a Culinary Artist graduating from Johnson & Wales so that her mom could take a front seat to her dream as an established artist.  Faridah is the designer of Sabree's website, researches info on shows/ events, and travels alongside Sabree promoting/selling her art.  Faridah is the backbone of Sabree's Gallery of the Arts.

Pearce W. Hammond
special talents lie in his primitive paintings that utilize bright primary colors, pen and ink, and mixed media. From his studio overlooking the marshes of the Chechessee River in Okatie, South Carolina, he draws inspiration, mood, color and subject matter which are captured in his unique paintings which depict African Americans from the Gullah culture in peaceful times gone by shrimping, fishing, crabbing, gathering oysters and living off the land along the sea islands of South Carolina.
He attributes his putting brush to canvas to his famed Savannah, Georgia-born Uncle, Johnny Mercer, who was famous for his prolific song-writing career and winner of four Academy Awards. Mercer was also a talented painter. One Christmas when he was visiting family in Savannah, a young Hammond showed his uncle some of his work and Mercer said he was "pretty good at it" and should pursue the craft.
In addition to art, Mr. Hammond is also an accomplished writer, editor and photographer. His career has included positions as Executive Editor of a leading trade magazine in the freight transportation industry; freelance editor of a corporate magazine for a Fortune 500 company which was awarded "Best in House Publication" in 1996 by the Georgia Press Association; author and publisher of a humorous book on dogs which received reviews from radio, television and other media nationwide and in several foreign countries; and writer of numerous freelance articles for local, regional and national publications.



Ellen Malphrus lives and writes beside the May River in her native Carolina lowcountry and beneath the Madison Mountains in western Montana. She studied under esteemed poet and author of Deliverance, James Dickey, who was her mentor and Graduate Director for the MFA she earned at the University of South Carolina. She is most at home in nature, and her concern for wild places and creatures, particularly when it comes to coastal conservation, is evident in the fabric of her writing. 









Pat Conroy is the author of 10 novels including The Prince of Tides, The Great Santini (both were made into Oscar nominated films) and The Death of Santini. He is founder and edior-in-chief of Story River Books, the fiction imprint of The University of South Carolina Press. 


Playing on the May. We have some exciting new events scheduled for this  year, right on our own May River. Helping coordinate and plan these events are three avid "watermen": Capt. Chris Shoemaker, Roddy Medders and Eric Burns.

Capt. Chris Shoemaker is a second generation waterman and Bluffton Native.  Spending his youth on his father's shrimp trawler opened his eyes to the river culture of the May. Now owner of May River Excursions, Capt. Chris brings his knowledge of shrimping, crabbing, fishing and local history to anyone that wants to join him. 

Roddy Medders is a Lowcountry native. Originally from Beaufort, Roddy ended up in Bluffton as a personal fitness instructor. Upon finding a passion with stand-up paddling he founded Stand and Paddle and now leads tours on the May River. Roddy is a competitive racer in the 14' division and often places in the upper tier of most events. Always looking for more training time, he serves the water community by offering top notch paddle board instruction. Roddy Medders is an avid stand up paddle boarder who is passionate about spreading his enthusiasm for this rapidly growing sport. Between providing lessons and guided tours and competitive racing, he works to promote the sport all across the Southeastern United States.


Spending summers here since the late 70's, Eric Burns considers himself to be a local waterman.  Although not native, his extended native family taught him to harvest the local waters at an early age and has since been a guide in the local waters for twenty plus years.  Previously a 50 ton Captain in the surrounding waters, Eric has returned to Bluffton to promote paddle sports through MarshgrassAdventures.com.  In previous years, Eric has promoted the kids fishing tournament for our festival and is now bringing competitive paddling and eco-paddling to the local waters. 


Reid Richmond’s
musical journey began in Cary, NC. With his two best friends from 5th grade and his brother Kevin, “Capital Funds” was formed. Their first performance at a 7th grade talent show convinced Reid that he was doing what he was meant to do. Of course, it didn’t hurt that the girls were screaming.
When he was contacted by an old friend to fill in on some gigs in Hilton Head, SC he fell instantly in love with the beauty of the place. The gigs are plentiful and life is good. Reid has become the busiest solo entertainer in the area and loves the island life. He still writes and keeps an eye toward Nashville and plans to return some day. But for now, he is rockin’ his solo show and entertaining all types of crowds with his very eclectic song list. He moves effortlessly from tender ballads, to crowd rousing sing-alongs, to your favorite song. You can see Reid Richmond Saturday October 17th stage 3, 10:00am-12:15pm.





Spike Ivory
has crafted his unique sound and style by drawing on many influences through the years.  Spike played many of the instruments heard on his debut album and put a very personal stamp on each song. The resulting sound and amazing energy were felt through the live shows as Spike Ivory and his newly formed band began touring.
After the release of The Velvet Chains CD in 2005, the band toured many intimate sized venues and played more than 225 shows all over the USA, Puerto Rico, Hong Kong, Canada and Asia! Spike recently signed with the New LowCountry Music Label.  His new Single “Rollin’ Thunder” (a tribute to our Troops and Military Vets past and present) has been gaining momentum on many radio stations across the states.Spike is currently scheduled to release an EP featuring Rollin’ Thunder along with 3 other tracks in September, followed by a full length album. You can see Spike Ivory on Saturday, October 17th, Main Stage from 3:00pm- 5:00pm.

MUDDYCREEK is a five-piece variety cover band that became a Lowcountry favorite almost overnight.  From their first public performance for the Bluffton Chamber of Commerce Business After-Hours party in the Spring of 2014, this group has been pleasing different types of audiences with their surprising array of ever-growing musical offerings.  Unlike other variety bands that all seem to play the same song list, MUDDYCREEK has their ownapproach to song selection for putting together a show that suits just about any gathering to create an exciting experience. The band roster includes members who are multi-instrumentalists and the songs they perform often include multi-part vocal arrangements for a band sound that is unique to the area and dynamic throughout their shows.  Put together all of these capabilities and you have a band that has performed at formal private weddings, Bluffton’s annual Mayfest, fundraising events like the Leo’s Legacy Festival, private parties and business grand openings, and many venues throughout Hilton Head Island, Bluffton, Daufuskie Island, and beyond.  Audiences throughout the Lowcountry have enjoyed and danced to this band’s unique mix of Pop, R&B, Country, Classic Rock, Blues, Disco, Rockabilly Swing, and more.  And for you musical purists:  no computer accompaniment or alteration, just live music played with the hopes of connecting with the listener.  MUDDYCREEK is simply a collection of fun-loving, highly experienced musicians who play music straight from the heart.

Jordan Ross, born and raised in a northern state, Jordan developed an early need for the escape that is music.  His ability to feed off the energy of others provided him the opportunity to perform for groups large (20,000) and small (Capt. Woody's). 
Now ten years in, Jordan has created a following of locals and tourists alike in the Lowcountry.  His live shows are laid-back and all-request. Come see Jordan perform Saturday Oct. 17 on stage 2 from 12:00pm-2:30pm.






Lee Tyler Post is a National Touring & Recording Artist whose style is a mix of Acoustic Soul, Roots Rock Americana & Southern Blues. His lyrics convey stories of everyday people. The San Diego Troubadour wrote, “...Post’s sound is as much Springsteen and Van Morrison as it is Otis Redding and Al Green: blue-collar heartland grit mixed with Motor City soul...” Lee calls it “Rock ‘N’ Soul.”
Starting out as a San Diego-based artist in the mid ‘90s, Lee has opened for Missing Persons, Blink 182, Steppenwolf, and was an annual performer at the San Diego County (Del Mar) Fair. Followed were live local TV appearances on The KUSI & KNSD Morning Shows. In 1999 Lee relocated to Nashville, TN where he honed his craft playing alongside such greats as, Grammy nominated hit songwriter Tony Lane, at the renowned "Broken Spoke Saloon."
Having been tagged "The Gypsy Troubadour", Post tours the US extensively, performing 150+ shows a year, while driving 25,000+ miles annually. Along the way he has released 6 studio albums, lived/performed in cities like Austin, Nashville, Seattle, Los Angeles, Asheville, San Diego, Atlanta and Santa Fe, as well as performed live on many TV and Radio Programs. His live shows have been described as “passionate, powerful and moving.” And his down-to-earth on-stage persona complements his dynamic voice and electrifying shows.
Always eager to lend his time and talents to charitable causes, Lee has performed at benefits for M.A.D.D., the M.S. Society, and The Ramona Cancer Resource Center. As well as at benefit fundraisers for camps for seriously ill children, The Victory Junction Gang Camp owned by Kyle Petty, the racecar driver, and Bikers Who Care/Toys for Tots to help underprivileged children. Lee currently resides in the SC LowCountry where he is finishing his next release, "Wreckage of Love". Catch his act on the kick- off Sunday  Oct 11. on stage 2 from 1:15pm-3:45pm and Saturday, Oct. 17 on stage 2, from 2:45pm-5:00pm!


Bam Jazz
Some of the best Jazz Blues Cajun Latin Reggae R&B Beach Worldbeat Swing and more - with a New Orleans feel. The Gumbo Kings of Jazz and Blues - The Professors of that Gulf Coast Rhythm & Groove - Whispering Smooth Ballads from the Greats - Steaming Swing of the Big Band Era. From the most CLASSIC to the most MODERN Jazz, Jitterbug, Mambo, Swing, Latin, Reggae, Caribbean, Dinner Music, Smooth Jazz, Klezmer, Motown, Beach and more…

With over 30 years experience in the music business, Bam-Jazz has some of the most professional musicians with the highest standards of excellence in the region. Comprised of some of the most accomplished and versatile players around, trumpeter/vocalist Bill Averbach brings it home with vintage to modern jazz, blues, swing, jumpin’ jive, Latin, reggae/ska and more... Influenced heavily by artists such as Cab Calloway, Louis Armstrong, Louis Jordan, Louis Prima, Clifton Chenier, Dr. John, The Meters, and Bob Marley the band plays that jumpin’ jive so reminiscent of zoot suits and two-tone shoes. And when they play that New Orleans sound you can almost taste the creole and gumbo at Mardi Gras. Don't miss the party with Bam Jazz this year - Main Stage, Sunday October 18, from 11am - 1:15pm!

Gary Pratt
A High Energy Country Artist that lives for Country Music.  Come check him out on Sunday Oct. 18 on stage 2 from 11:00am-1:00pm



Julie Gribble
We are lucky to have Julie Gribble back again this year. This is a show not to be missed! It just comes naturally for Julie Gribble, writing, singing, and performing.  But what she loves most is to inspire, to reach people with her music.  With her Traditional Americana/Country Music, Gribble has entranced audiences with her modern stories of life, love and relationships.  When you think about the edge of an artist like Lucinda Williams, the melodies of Allison Krauss, and a likeness to Natalie Merchant, you'll find Julie.  Audiences connect immediately to the unique lyrics because they’re not the same old love clichés. As Craig Ferguson said, on his show about her record, So Typical, "It's Fantastic!"

Gribble has toured the US and Canada, opened for major label artists, become the face of Hotel Indigo's Featured Artist and be asked to perform on many national television shows around the country as well as numerous radio spots. With her recent endorsement through Martin Guitars, Julie has been touring supporting her newest release, "Letting Go." This is followed by her appearance in October, 2010 on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson.  After wrapping up her supporting role in the upcoming Sony Pictures Film, Quarantine 2, she also was a songwriting teacher and performer on Seth Green's new webshow, ControlTV. Before her recent move to Nashville,TN, she managed to gain a full page interview in Atlanta's Finest Mag, a finalist in GA Lottery's All Access Music Competition, and is nominated for a GA Country Music Award. Don't miss Julie this Saturday October 17th from 12:45- 2:30pm on the Main Stage!

The Chiggers - Unplugged!
Jennifer Witmer and Roger Liptak are from the popular low country band, The Chiggers, and will be performing “unplugged” versions of the band’s classic rock and modern country fare. Unlike many of the local low country musicians who approach their projects in a “journeyman” style by performing in the various band permutations which make up the local music scene, Jennifer and Roger have found a dedicated musical collaboration in The Chiggers and focus on raising the bar in its evolution.

Jennifer has only been singing in a band environment for 3 years but she is a natural with a powerful yet sensitive voice that evokes the kind of emotion heard in artists like Carrie Underwood, Jennifer Nettles, and Sheryl Crow. Originally from Connecticut she can seamlessly morph from jazz to rock to the twangiest country with uncanny authenticity. Jennifer has an infectious energy that also finds outlet in tennis, soccer, skydiving, and raising a 3 year old son! She currently resides in Hilton Head with her husband, Brian, and her son, Elliott.

Roger has been playing electric guitar since he formed his first band in 1967. He developed his style in California during the heart of the classic rock era and was the leader of popular San Francisco area band, Tykus, which played original progressive rock for 13 years. He cites his key guitar influences as Eric Clapton, Jimmy Page, Lesie West, Mike Campbell and Keith Urban. Roger also has played on church worship teams in Boston and New York, as well as leading the Christian rock band, Approaching Storm, in New York from 2006 to 2011. He is currently a lead guitarist at Low Country Community Church in Bluffton and Hilton Head Island Community Church. Roger also finds outlet in designing and building his own amplifiers, engineering and producing CDs, and designing sound systems. He currently lives in Bluffton with his wife, Elaine. You can see The Chiggers on Saturday October 17th, stage 3 from 12:45pm-2:15pm.

Jeff Beasley, a popular mainstay in the Savannah and Low Country area, will join us again this year, Sunday, October 18th, from 1:45 - 4:00pm on Stage 3. Jeff performs as a one man band...kicking a drum and tambourine while simultaneously singing and playing acoustic guitar, slide, and harmonica. Savannah’s booming tourist trade has provided an abundance of gigs for local and touring musicians. Since 2003, Jeff has averaged 250 shows per year which have provided him ample time on stage to fine tune his one man band act. With the release of his first, live, solo album titled “Jeff Beasley One Man Band”, he is taking his show on the road. “I’m still going to play in Savannah consistently, but I’m ready to show the world this low country sound I’ve been crafting for seven years” says Jeff. The Jeff Beasley Band is well-known in the Savannah and Low Country area, averaging 250 shows per year for the past several years. You can see Jeff Beasley Sunday Oct. 19 on stage 3 from 1:45-4pm.

Equally adept with the acoustic Hawaiian lap steel guitar and dobro, John Emil first appeared on the South Florida music scene in 2000. Fans hear haunting, subtle hints of Delta bluesmen Son House and Blind Willie Johnson, but Emil ultimately creates a unique style all his own by integrating country blues, folk, bluegrass and lush Hawaiian sounds into his repertoire.

Routinely taking the lost art of slide guitar in a new direction, Emil has composed a wealth of slide guitar tracks for media production libraries. His instrumental tracks have been published by LA Post Music in Los Angeles, Westar Music in Canada, and Strange Fruit in South Africa. Emil recently became the first American musician to be published by London’s KPM, one of the world’s largest production libraries. Among the many television and cable network shows Emil has supplied music for are “Dateline,” Anthony Bourdain’s “No Reservations,” CMT’s “Cribs,” and several international wildlife and nature documentaries. You can see John Emil Sunday Oct. 18 on stage 3 from 11:00am-1:15pm.

Gary Byrd and the Outlaw Band
For the best in Rock, old and new, Blues, Country and everything in between...Gary Byrd and the Outlaws deliver everytime. You can see Gary Byrd and the Outlaw Band at the Fireworks Show Saturday October 17th.







Rockin' On the Dock Fireworks & Party!            
The 11th annual Historic Bluffton Arts and Seafood Festival fireworks spectacular will present the best fireworks show in Bluffton at dusk on Saturday evening, October 17. Shot from the May River and viewed riverside at the Bluffton Oyster Factory Park on Wharf Street, this will be the grand finale to a day full of festivities, not to be missed!