Anderson Independent-Mail

Spring Water Festival celebrates 30th year

When you’re the chairman of an event that is nearing three decades in existence, you know you have to do something big to celebrate its longevity. David Meade is the Stage Entertainment Coordinator and Festival Chairman of the Spring Water Festival in Williamston. Meade has been involved with the festival since 1985, but has served as chairman for the last five years.

Meade knew the 30th anniversary of the Spring Water Festival should be appropriately impressive, which is why he started planning for it while working on the 2010 festival. He knew everything in this year’s festival had to trump anything from years past, so this particular Spring Water Festival has been years in the making.

“I knew it had to be bigger and better,” Meade said. “We’ve got more of everything this year, but we wanted to focus on expanding the entertainment aspect of the show even more than last year.”

Meade had his sights set on an artist with a long and proven track record for the event’s 30th anniversary. He found that artist in headliner Earl Thomas Conley, a 30-plus year veteran of the music industry. Conley enjoyed major success on the music charts in the ’80s and ’90s and was the only country artist ever to appear on “Soul Train.”

Meade thought Conley would appeal to a wide swath of the Williamston audience, but he didn’t stop there. He also booked folk/alt country artist Angela Easterling, a prolific young musician who has been a touring fixture of the Southeast for more than a year now. Conley will follow Easterling to close out the festival on Saturday night.

Easterling is currently doing extensive touring in support of the July release of “Beguiler,” her second collaboration with producer Will Kimbrough. Easterling’s work with her band, The Beguilers, inspired most of the album. Her previous album, “Blacktop Road,” was centered on working through aggression over what had happened to her family’s longstanding Greenville farm. “Beguiler” proves that Easterling can shift her focus from strong lyrical content to an album more focused on music.

Easterling is so confident in her band she decided to track the entirety of “Beguiler” live in Nashville with the band. Drummer Jeff Hook and guitarist Brandon Turner have lent Easterling a powerful sound during live shows, which should only help strengthen the Spring Water Festival’s growing lineup. Easterling said she relishes the opportunity to perform in an area that does not see too much live entertainment on a large scale.

“The new material is much more lighthearted and rocking,” Easterling said. “I’ll play anywhere I can, but it is great to make new fans out of people that don’t get much live music.”

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