Tortuga Music Festival in Fort Lauderdale offers something for everyone — even the sea turtles

 

Nearly two dozen musicians will put their toes in the sand at the inaugural Rock the Ocean Tortuga Music Festival, a two-day beach-front event meant to raise awareness of the environment.

Kenny Chesney

By Carli Teproff | cteproff@MiamiHerald.com

Country music superstar Eric Church has had a lot of requests over the years.

But he’s never been told to cut off his performance by 9:30 p.m. so the sea turtles can nest.

“I never heard that before,” said Church, who has been holed up in a cabin in the North Carolina mountains for the last month song writing. “I think it’s pretty cool.”

Church will obey the curfew at the inaugural Rock the Ocean Tortuga Festival this weekend — a two-day beach-front festival meant to marry music and environmental awareness.

Church, who just won an Academy of Country Music Award’s album of the year for Chief is one of nearly two dozen acts crossing multiple genres. Other big names include Kenny Chesney, Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Eli Young Band and Kip Moore.

“This is going to be a world-class production,” said Chris Stacey, the senior vice president of promotions at Warner Music and a co-founder of the event. “You can’t ask for a better line up and it’s all in the name of the ocean.”

Organizers came up with the name Tortuga as an ode to the turtles who nest on the beach where the festival will be.

Presented by LandShark, the festival will benefit The Guy Harvey Ocean Foundation, which is based in Davie, and include a Conservation Village to “promote ocean awareness,” said Steve Stock, the foundation’s president.

The village will include booths set up by different environmental groups promoting recycling, beach clean-ups and going green. Guy Harvey will also be on-hand during the festival.

He said the music will certainly be the draw, but once people are there, promoters are hoping the fans will begin to understand the importance of conservation and marine awareness, Stock said.

Festival-goers will be encouraged to “leave the beach in better shape than when they came in,” said Nicholas Mallos, a conservation biologist and marine debris specialist.

For example, they’ll be given a trash bag to fill, and can exchange it for a custom-made T-shirt. One of the biggest issues the ocean faces is everyday trash left on the beach including utensils and cigarette butts.

“By the festival being directly on the beach, festival-goers will be able to get that tangible experience and see first-hand why we are doing what we are doing,” said Mallos.

The idea for the festival started when Stacey, an avid boater and free-diver, realized there was way too much pollution in the ocean and the reefs “were in terrible shape.”

“I knew I had to do something,” said Stacey, who lived in Fort Lauderdale for a few years but now makes his home in Nashville.

He docked his boat at a Fort Lauderdale restaurant and began jotting down ideas on a cocktail napkin.

He began thumbing through his Rolodex for acts.

Church said when he was approached — he happened to have been in cold weather in Canada at the time — he immediately agreed.

What attracted him?

“That’s easy,” he said. “The beach.”

Church also said he was impressed by how diverse the line-up was and the fact that it was for a good cause.

“We have always tried to have a point of view in our music,” said Church. “It’s a point of view about conservation and I am happy to be a part of it.”

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