By Kip Tabb | Outer Banks Voice on March 24, 2023
After a successful first year of summer concerts at Roanoke Island Festival Park (RIFP) in Manteo, VUSIC OBX is gearing up for year two.
Five groups are already scheduled through August—Lettuce & Steel Pulse with Makua Rothman, Rebelution with special guests Iration, Jake Owen, Dirty Heads, and Joe Russo’s Almost Dead. That doesn’t include the two more bands VUSIC owner Rebecca Meyers should be signing this week. But Meyers notes that there will be more than seven shows this summer.
“We have guaranteed everyone eight, but we’re probably shooting for ten,” she said.
Much like last year’s lineup, there will be a mixture of music styles and genres. But as Meyers stated, “country and reggae are definitely the winners here.”
The first show of the season on June 20 highlights the diversity of music, teaming the driving reggae rhythms of Steel Pulse with heavily jazz-oriented jam band sound of Lettuce.
Two days later, reggae band Rebelution returns to the stage, reprising last year’s June performance at VUSIC. And although Steel Pulse is headlining the June 20 show this year, last year they were one of Rebelution’s guest artists. The fact that they are returning to the Outer Banks is something Meyers and her team view as achieving one of their goals.
“I don’t know if we’ve had any bands that do not [want to come back], and even some of the most popular ones that people are begging to come back,” she said.
Meyers went on to say that scheduling can be difficult, especially because the RIFP outdoor theater is used for other activities. “One of our biggest challenges is, it’s not our venue…And if there’s a wedding or an event there, we can’t have the park,” she said.
Although national touring bands have stopped by the Outer Banks in the past, what Meyers has done with VUSIC is different. Some of that is certainly RIFP as a venue and the commitment to it. “It’s just an amazing venue,” she said.
“Every artist has stood on that stage and looked out when the sun is setting, because when you’re standing on stage with sunsets right in front of you and that backdrop of all those colors…it’s absolutely mind blowing,” logistics manager Justin Smith noted.
Smith is part of a team that Meyers has created to make the Outer Banks experience for the touring bands something special. “We don’t come from a music industry background. We’re just music lovers,” he added.
Smith grew up on the Outer Banks, but he was living in Greensboro when he met the Meyers at a concert in Florida.
“Last year this time is how I met Brad and Rebecca. I was [in Florida] at a festival, with friends, and through mutual friends we happened to be standing beside each other and talking,” he recalled. They talked about what the Meyers were hoping to do with music and the Outer Banks.
“That was just something I wanted to be a part of coming from that area,” he said.
Smith’s background is in supply chain logistics—it’s his day job as he puts it. But insuring everything runs smoothly at a concert isn’t all that different.
“We’re just changing the mediums. Instead of me…handling the business development and project management, it’s music,” Smith said.
Like almost all of the team that Meyers has assembled, Smith still has his day job, although he did move back to the Outer Banks.
Holding on to his day job has also been the case for VUSIC art director Chris Wheeler. He’s still a part-time chef at Tortuga’s Lie in Nags Head, and working with management seems to be going well.
“Tortugas is good for me. I’ll give them a couple of days a week. They work around my schedule, my artwork,” he said.
Wheeler designs all of the artwork associated with a show, but it’s something extra that he does that seems to have caught the imagination of the bands coming to RIFP—and a larger audience.
“I make custom skateboards for all the artists that play at Roanoke Island Festival Park,” he said.
Recently he was at a reggae festival in Florida and suddenly found he had a fan base.
“It’s been crazy. I’m getting recognition. I mean, nationally” because of the skateboards, he said.
Wheeler had been painting surfboards and skateboards around the Outer Banks for a number of years. He has even done two murals—the silo at the Brewing Station and Secret Spot Surf Shop in Nags Head. “I painted the whole outside of the building there. That was five or six years ago,” he said.
But he came on board with VUSIC at their very first concert in 2021 at the Hilton Garden Inn, a concert that featured the reggae band Movement playing for guests in rooms overlooking the stage. Wheeler designed the posters and painted a surfboard during the concert.
“That’s just how me and the music industry kind of started,” he said. “I’m super excited for this year. I’m gonna be coming up with some cool like merchandise for music…Just trying to take it to the next level.”
For more information and tickets visit vusicfest.com
Frenchy the Frenchman
Joe Russo’s Almost Dead is sure to sell out.
Tremendous band with a large following.
Dead Heads will take over the island!!!!
Mark Jurkowitz | Outer Banks Voice
P.S. I confess to being a Deadhead. Probably have seen a total of about 50 shows.
Turn it down just a smidge pls
oh boy… cant wait…
Good luck to everyone living with-in a mile radius of downtown manteo. Another summer of loud music. The dollar is sure turning this place into something different.
I know there has been concerts here for years. However not this many packed into such a short time frame. every weekend it’s another nightmare.
Awesome news!!! Putting together a great lineup! Thanks for organizing/scheduling these shows!
Thank you vusic! We appreciate you. Keep bringing the fun and culture.
Hey Mark – I did about 50 Dead shows myself, beginning in 1979. I hope to come down from Richmond for JRAD. I would’ve come down for Lettuce/Steel Pulse, but they’ll be here the night after.
Mark Jurkowitz | Outer Banks Voice
Hope to see you there.