Drift Jam festival is floating fun at Lake Murray this weekend

By Vincent Harris
Posted 5/30/24

The Drift Jam, one of the more unique festivals in our area, is celebrating its final year this weekend.

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Drift Jam festival is floating fun at Lake Murray this weekend


The Drift Jam, one of the more unique festivals in our area, is celebrating its final year this weekend.

Each June for the last decade, thousands of music and watersports fans have headed over to Lake Murray, to enjoy fun, sun, and a multi-band music fest that takes place on a floating stage parked along the shore of Spence Island, with boaters being able to pull up and watch bands performing on the water.

The Drift Jam site calls the gathering “The World’s Largest Floating Music Festival,” and that phrase is prominently trademarked, so who are we to argue?

Drift Jam has always been popular with folks from Lexington and around the Midlands, and it's not difficult to see why. The idea of a day of free music and fun as an unofficial kickoff to Summer is a great one.

This year’s edition features performances by the Nashville country band A Thousand Horses, Columbia’s own melodic pop-rock outfit Prettier Than Matt (with their full band, not the duo format that they often perform in), the TN pop trio IMY2 and the popular Lexington singer/songwriter Rut Spence, along with tunes from a DJ, The Mixtress Madi Jo.

The Drift Jam kicks off at 11am this Saturday and runs until 8pm, and it’s free to attend, though there are VIP ticket packages that include better viewing areas near the stage. This year’s presenting sponsor is Palmetto Renovations, with additional sponsorship from companies like All American Heating & Air, New Level Construction, Sunchill, Market and Lake Murray Rentals.

Drift Jam has remained popular since its creation, but unfortunately, the event, which is often referred to as a “flotilla festival,” has had some hard times in the last few years.

The 2023 edition of the festival was cancelled only eight days out from the date because, as organizer Doug Gainey told the Chronicle at the time, “We had a major sponsor pull out of their financial commitment on the day of our deadline.”  That was a big blow to the Drift Jam in itself, but it certainly didn’t help that this cancellation came on the heels of a cancellation in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

These two cancellations and the stress of putting on the festival seem to have made up Gainey’s mind about the festival’s future.

“Next year will be the 10th anniversary of Drift Jam and will be the last,” Gainey told the Chronicle last year. “I've had enough.” With 2024 set up as the final year, Gainey had some ideas he only had one more chance to try out.

“I'm planning to bring a national headlining artist,” he said, “as well as several other surprises that I've been wanting to incorporate into the event over the years.”

And with A Thousand Horses, a platinum-selling band with multiple Top 40 country singles under their belt as a headliner, it would seem that Gainey has lived up to his promises. So don’t miss this one last chance to rock out on the water this weekend.

Drift Jam, Lake Murray


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