Monday’s press conference for the upcoming Tortuga Music Festival was perfectly staged: The beach behind the Sheraton Fort Lauderdale Beach Hotel looked particularly pristine under bright, chamber of commerce-designed skies, with city officials in crisp collars mingling with T-shirted music execs as bikini-ed hotel guests listened to all they’ll be missing next month.
During the environmentally themed dog and pony and turtle show, fingers were pointed toward the sandy spaces where stages will be erected, and hands were waved toward the ocean, the primary focus and beneficiary of the Tortuga Music Festival. A music exec called environmentalist and artist Guy Harvey a “rock star,” Fort Lauderdale Mayor Jack Seiler admitted to being a major Chesney fan, and local turtle protectors said the beach concert is a “win-win” for the shelled ocean dwellers.
Here are some other things we learned about Tortuga:
KENNY CHESNEY, TORTUGA KING
This may be a no-brainer, but the dates for the Tortuga Music Festival (April 13-14) were chosen to coordinate with Kenny Chesney’s tour schedule. Once they got Chesney signed, other acts quickly jumped on, too.
SEE YOU NEXT YEAR, TOO?
Just to confirm, if all goes according to plan, a 2014 edition of the Tortuga Music Festival seems to be a forgone conclusion. Festival producer Chris Stacey of the Rock the Ocean Foundation and his talent-booking partner, Jeff Kreinik, of Huka Entertainment, say they are already getting calls from acts who want to be on next year’s bill. “That’s unusual for a first-time festival,” Kreinik said. Of course, it all hinges on the success of this one. Said Stacey: "I will say, be at the first one. We are trying to create a brand, something special."
THE LINEUP IS FINAL
The recent addition of Grace Potter to the 23-act lineup completes the two-day bill that, as you know, includes the Avett Brothers, Eric Church, Lynyrd Skynyd, Jake Owen, Gary Clark Jr., the Wailers, Michael Franti & Spearhead and Sister Hazel. Some local performers may be enlisted to play the smaller stage inside the Conservation Village. Organizers are still tinkering with the order of the performances, so no word yet on exactly when each act will go on.
To this point, you could only get Tortuga tickets on the website (TortugaMusicFestival.com), but Stacey said they will soon be available at two local retail outlets: BC Surf and Sport, 1701 N. Federal Highway, Fort Lauderdale; and Uncle Sam’s Music, 141 Washington Ave., Miami Beach. Advance tickets are $149 for a two-day pass. Info: Facebook.com/BCSurfSport, UncleSamsMusic.com.
Well, almost. In keeping with the environmentally respectful nature of the event, a company called Clean Vibes has been contracted to keep the festival site clean, using local volunteers who get to watch the show when they are not working. Here's the how-to: You register to volunteer and give them a deposit for $180 (cost of a full-admission ticket for $160, plus $20 administrative fee). After you work your two five-hour shifts, you’ll be refunded the cost of the ticket. The admin fee is nonrefundable. So you get the two days of music for $20 and some elbow grease. There are shifts before, during and after the festival. Hit the link for more info on Clean Vibes' Tortuga Music Festival volunteer options.
DUDE, WHERE'S MY CAR?
Details are “99 percent” complete on how parking and access to the festival will be coordinated, but former Fort Lauderdale resident Stacey (now living in Nashville) is well aware of concerns about the logistics of moving people around the beach. “I used to live on the beach and I understand what it’s like when there’s too much traffic and it gets crowded,” he said. The plan is “to put the bulk of the cars off of the beach and we shuttle [visitors] in by water taxis and by shuttles.”
The festival will run from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. each day, which sounds odd, but is a source of pride for those involved. “When was the last time you were at a music festival that ended at 9? Never,” said one Tortuga rep. But it’s all about accommodating the festival’s namesake turtles, who are laying eggs on the beach at night.
The festival was originally called Rock the Ocean, but Stacey said he and his team decided it needed a name that was more indigenous, memorable and symbolic of the environmental cause. Plus, like Lollapalooza and Bonaroo, “Tortuga is fun to say,” Stacey said.
A NEW HANGOUT
Huka Entertainment also programs the Hangout Music Festival, which happens in May in Gulf Shores, Ala. Like me, you might say, Hang what? But when Pollstar chose its 2012 music festival of the year, it didn’t choose Lollapalooza, Bonaroo or the Austin City Limits Festival. It chose Hangout, which last year included the Dave Matthews Band, Jack White, Wilco, the Flaming Lips and Skrillex. So Tortuga seems to be in good hands.
Photo: Getty Images