Let's face it, not all summer camps are the same. There are those where the days lumber on endlessly, a haze of repetitive hikes in non-descript woods and fishing a tiny, algae-infested lake, where you seem to catch and release the same 11-inch rainbow trout over and over. For lunch, mystery meat and Velveeta, jammed between two slices of Wonder Bread with a can of stale RC. Maybe some softball or volleyball. If you're lucky, you get a bonfire.
And then there are those camps where a national touring band plays for the whole week. Such is the good fortune for some 250 campers at the South Carolina Church of God camp in Simpsonville who were treated to Julian Drive on Tuesday. Judging from the audience's response, there will be three more days of inspiring music.
Such a reaction is nothing new for Julian Drive, who were formed by singer-guitarist Shane Bowers and Shaun Bennett a keyboardist-guitarist in their native Clarke County, Georgia. The duo were later joined by guitarist Jesse Triplett, bassist James Nitz and drummer Josh Seagraves.
The band's growth over the past decade has truly been organic. Julian Drive's first big break came in 2004 when they won a talent search over 2,000 other bands. The group played live shows on weekends and during vacations, releasing a self-titled album in 2005. The next break came in 2005 when the band wowed fans at Winterfest. The following year the group made the decision to walk away from their full-time jobs and become a touring band.
They broke through with their second album My Coming Day in 2009, which was a major label release. An EP followed in 2010 and last year the third-studio album, Beauty Behind the Pain, was released.
Julian Drive had played SC COG before. But Rob Bailey, the Youth Director for the state COG was instrumental in landing the band for a week-long stretch, a real coup for the camp, which has been around since the late 1950s.
After Julian Drive's performance on Tuesday, the crowd heard from Josh Carter an energetic youth pastor evangelist from Farmington Heights Church in Wilson, NC.
If you'd like to see Julian Drive, you don't need to be a camper. Simply arrive by 6 p.m. at the concert venue on 306 Monroe Drive in Simpsonville (see map on right). The show is free and audience members just need to sign in.