Country singer Drake White, a self-proclaimed “beach bum,” never thought he’d be able to get in a submarine before heading on stage to perform.
But White lowered himself into a high-tech gold colored submarine used by Project Baseline to monitor environmental changes underwater. He couldn’t believe its capabilities, including a connection for iPads.
Now White, who was performing at third annual Rock the Ocean’s Tortuga Music Festival in Fort Lauderdale for the first time, said he can’t wait to actually go for a ride in the device that goes 1,000 feet underwater.
“It’s going to happen,” said White, who plays with his band The Big Fire. “This is the coolest thing I’ve seen.”
Project Baseline, an organization that helps record and observe changes in the water, was one of several organizations represented in the festival’s Conservation Village. The village had booths set up by different environmental groups that were promoting recycling, beach clean-ups and going green.
“It gets bigger every year,” said co-founder Chris Stacey of the village. “There is so much going on.”
Tortuga Music Festival, now in its third year, marries conservation with music. Saturday’s line-up included Trace Adkins, Josh Turner, the Doobie Brothers and headliner Kenny Chesney. Sunday’s performers will include The Band Perry, Little Big Town, Sublime with Rome and Zac Brown Band.
On Saturday, thousands of bikini-clad women and bathing suit wearing men packed Fort Lauderdale Beach Park — some soaking in the music and others taking a break to learn about the environment.
“I grew up around sea turtles,” said Tayler McLaughlin, 23, of Ocala. “This is a great way to raise awareness.”
On the main stage Trace Adkins, known for such songs as Honky Tonk Badonkadonk and for wearing his signature black hat, drew a huge crowd.
Sarah Gibbes, of Jacksonville, sang along to Adkins’ hit You’re Gonna Miss This with a group of friends who came fo the festival.
“I love this song,” she screamed. “He’s really good.”
And while many came for the music, protecting the marine world is a huge part of the festival. Organizers say the festival, named as an ode to the turtles who nest on the beach where the festival is housed, has raised nearly $200,000 for marine conservation organizations, including the Guy Harvey Foundation.
Harvey, a wildlife artist and conservationist and Wyland a marine life artist, teamed up to paint a mural that will benefit the Guy Harvey Foundation.
“When you collaborate, it becomes something of a hybrid," said Wyland.
Harvey said the festival is a great venue for “edutainment.”
“This is our backyard,” said Harvey referring to his foundation that supports conservation. “It’s a great way to get the message out.”
Tortuga Music Festival
When: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday
Where: Fort Lauderdale Beach Park, north of the Sheraton Hotel on Sea Breeze Boulevard
Tickets: $99 single-day general admission
Parking: Single day shuttle passes and single day water taxi passes are available in addition to two-day passes. Advance prices start at $30 and children 10 and under ride free. More transportation information and the 2015 transportation map can be found at the festival website.
Tips: One empty water container up to 2 liters in size and a factory sealed water bottle (one per person, up to 1 liter) are allowed. There are free water refill stations located around the grounds. Don’t forget to wear sunglasses and sunscreen. Register your wristband for a chance to win prizes and perks. VIP and Super VIP pass holders should bring their swimsuits as the VIP area will feature a swimming pool this year. Low-rise beach chairs are allowed, however they must be set up in the designated chair zone.
More Info: www.tortugamusicfestival.com