(Sept. 19, 2014) Tens of thousands will flock to Ocean City’s inlet this weekend for four days of food, arts and crafts vendors and a full lineup of live music during the resort’s Sunfest.
The 40th annual event kicked off Thursday and will keep filling its stage with local talent and national acts starting at 10 a.m. daily through Sunday, with acts from a Beatles tribute band to local talent Randy Lee Ashcraft & the Saltwater Cowboys and Sir Rod on tap for free shows.
In addition, Sunfest will host three headliner bands for ticketed performances, kicking off Thursday night with The Righteous Brothers’ Bill Medley showcasing his collection of classic soul hits. The headliners keep rolling tonight with a show by county music legend Eric Paslay, who will perform alongside Parmalee starting at 8 p.m. Tomorrow, 80s heartthrob Rick Springfield takes the stage in front of a sold-out crowd.
“We get to host some really amazing talent for our headliners,” said Jessica Waters, communications manager for the Town of Ocean City.
Paslay has released four singles, including Top 5 hit “Friday Night,” a cover of the original Lady Antebellum song. He wrote or co-wrote every song on his self-titled album, which debuted in February, and has written for fellow artists Jake Owen, the Eli Young Band, Rascal Flatts and Lady Antebellum.
In 2013, Paslay sang on Amy Grant’s album “How Mercy Looks from Here,” sharing lead vocals with Grant and Sheryl Crow on a song he wrote called “Deep As It Is Wide.”
“Eric Paslay knows a thing or two about songwriting,” wrote the Rolling Stone’s Wendy Geller of the country star this year. Learn more about him at www.ericpaslay.com.
Joining him the Sunfest stage will be four-piece country band Parmalee, whose latest single “Close Your Eyes” is riding country radio’s Top 20. Based in the small North Carolina town the band chose for its name, Parmalee is comprised of brothers Matt and Scott Thomas, on lead vocals and guitar and drums, respectively, joined by Barry Know, on bass, and Josh McSwain, on guitar.
The group found its sound roots in the bluegrass, traditional country, southern rock and blues covers they heard growing up.
“We have a good time and we always like to bring a good time to the stage,” said Matt Thomas, who’s looking forward to getting back to the beach for the Ocean City show.
“We’re from the East Coast area so it’s always just great when we get to get back,” he said, promising the band’s hits such as “Move,” “Close Your Eyes,” and No. 1 hit “Carolina” will rock the audience tonight. Visit www.parmalee.com for more information on the band.
Tickets to the show were still available at press time. They are on sale at the Roland E. Powell Convention Center box office on 40th Street, open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. today. Guests can also buy tickets by calling TicketMaster at 800-551-7328 or visiting www.ticketmaster.com.
Tickets will be on sale at the festival grounds during Sunfest on a first-come basis, though less than 500 remained earlier in the week for tonight’s performance, said Frank Miller, Ocean City’s Special Events Superintendent.
Tomorrow, Saturday, Australia-native Rick Springfield will take the stage to perform his 80s hits including “Don’t Talk to Strangers,” “An Affair of the Heart,” “I’ve Done Everything for You,” “Human Touch,” and No. 1 hit “Jessie’s Girl.”
After touring for more than 30 years and with 25 million record sales under his belt, the singer shows no signs of stopping.
“I put everything I’ve got into making records,” Springfield said.
Known for a rock-heavy, high-energy set, Springfield in 2013 switched his act to a more intimate performance in his “Stripped Down” show.
“There are some favorite songs that I’ve written that I have never had the chance to perform live, mainly because they never fit into our sets,” he said. “I think fans will be as excited to hear these songs live as I am to play them.”
In October 2012, he released “Songs for the End of the World,” his 17th studio album.
Springfield will play to a sold-out crowd Saturday starting at 8 p.m. on the Sunfest stage. Visit www.rickspringfield.com for more about the singer.
The headliners were a major draw at Sunfest 2013, when Kip Moore and Kacey Musgraves and The Beach Boys played sold-out concerts to 1,750-person crowds Friday and Saturday night. Jesse Garon’s tribute to Elvis Thursday night drew an audience of 1,367 and other live music played throughout the weekend.
Visitors can again enjoy a full schedule of free music every day during Sunfest. The music kicks off at 10 each morning and runs until 7 p.m., except on Sunday, when the festival ends with a special performance by the Reagan Years at 4:30 p.m.
“It’s going to be a great event,” Miller said. “They forecast is showing terrific weather, so it’s going to be a great wrap-up to the summer season.”
Parking is limited at the festival grounds, so Sunfest patrons should consider using city buses. The West Ocean City Park and Ride, just west of the Route 50 bridge, provides free parking and a $3 ride-all-day shuttle service to and from South Division Street, a block from Sunfest. Parking is free at the Roland E. Powell Convention Center on 40th Street, where the Sunfest Express shuttle picks up riders for a direct route to Sunfest for a $3 ride-all-day pass.
For more information on bus fares, call Ocean City Transportation at 410-723-1606.
Sunfest is open today and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the inlet at the south end of Ocean City’s Boardwalk.
Visit http://oceancitymd.gov/Recreation_and_Parks/specialevents.html or call 800-626-2326 for more Sunfest information.