On a very rainy Sunday evening in Jacksonville Beach, Sweetwater Brewing Company sponsored a concert event at Freebird Live to benefit the St. John’s Riverkeeper’s organization. The concert on June 24th featured opening band Bison and headliner Railroad Earth. Both bands are ecologically involved and strive to educate the public on the perils of environmental destruction through messages on their websites and support of causes such as Sweetwater’s ongoing Waterkeeper campaign.
Sweetwater’s Minister of Propoganda, Steve Farace said, “[We chose Railroad Earth because] they played our 420 Fest last year and they have a similar mindset as us. They attract the kind of crowds we want to get our message out to. They get it.”
Farace said that throughout the history of the Sweetwater brewery, the company has always had an interest in saving the rivers of the south. After all, he says, without the rivers, Sweetwater would not have the clean water they need to make beer. He says that the concert series with Railroad Earth is a step beyond the cards they have been placing in their six-packs distributed throughout the Atlanta area.
Andy Goessling, Railroad Earth’s acoustic guitarist among other instruments, echoed Farace’s reasons for the band coming on board Sweetwater’s cause. “We have been getting our message out through the blog on our website and Sweetwater seemed like a good fit with that; they overlapped with our environmental ideals.”
Shannon Blankenship of the St. John’s Riverkeepers praised Sweetwater and the bands for their stewardship of Waterkeeper organizations throughout the south and even organized a pub crawl earlier this month to bring attention to the plight of our river. The crawl took place appropriately in Riverside and attracted approximately 50 people.
Sweetwater has raised over $350,000 since 2006 with their Save the Hooch campaign aimed at saving the Chattahoochee River and preserving it for generations to come. In a quote on the company’s website, Founder and Big Kahuna Freddy Bensch says, ““I have spent a lot of time on Atlanta’s waters since moving to Georgia in ’96 to start the brewery, and I’ve seen a lot of the issues firsthand. Keeping our water clean is a cause I think we can all believe in, and we’ll continue to do anything we can to help raise awareness and funding for the great folks who are out there every day protecting our water.”
Concert-goer Charles Price summed things up well with his thoughts regarding the ecological message presented by Sweetwater and the bands at the concert. He recognized that the St. John’s River is integral to our city’s survival and is a resource that must be preserved. “The river,” he said, “is this city’s livelihood.”