HERTFORD – The North Carolina Rock Autism Music Festival in Perquimans County on Saturday had two goals and delivered both:
It raised funds for the NC Autism Society and allowed southern rock fans to enjoy live music and sunshine in a festive atmosphere.
Daniel Jordan and his wife DiAnna started the festival in 2017. Their own son has autism and they wanted to do something to benefit the NC Autism Society and its work with people with autism.
This year’s festival, held at the Crawfish Shack, was the fourth. This did not happen last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Fans of live music were thrilled to see the festival return this year.
Nicky Winslow from Belvidere was enjoying her second participation in the festival.
“The music is great,” said Winslow. “They play anything from Prince to Lynyrd Skynyrd to Eric Church.”
The music leaned mainly towards country, country rock and southern rock.
Robert “Rabbit” Stallings, also from Belvidere, listened to the music with Winslow and a group of other festival-goers. He said this year’s event was the first he had attended.
“All of the groups have been good,” Stallings said. “I love it.”
He said there was some great camping and great food in addition to the music.
“And it’s for a good cause,” added Stallings. “This is the best part.”
This year, 700 tickets were handed out for the festival, according to DiAnna Jordan.
“It definitely grew,” she said.
Daniel Jordan has his own band and got to work organizing a music festival with other bands he knows.
DiAnna Jordan said the festival was a lot of work but also a lot of fun. Since its inception, the festival has raised nearly $ 60,000 for the NC Autism Society.
She said the total amount raised this year would not become clear for about a week.
The festival was made possible by many great volunteers, she said.
Eric Dunlow, lead singer of the Eric Dunlow Band, said the band sometimes performed in bars, but their favorite thing to do was family-oriented charity events such as Rock Autism.
“I love doing stuff like that,” Dunlow said. “It’s a good thing. I’m happy to be a part of it and the rest of my guys are too.
Dunlow said the crowd on Saturday seemed to enjoy the songs and that made it even more fun for the group.
“Loved it,” Dunlow said. “It was great. We had a great time and everyone seemed to really enjoy it.
The outdoor music festivals give the band a chance to meet new people and also introduce new listeners to the band, he said.
Dunlow said his son died last year and Daniel Jordan benefited the family. So Dunlow said he and his band were keen to help with this festival.
Dunlow said the band enjoys playing country and southern rock, including some original songs he wrote. He said his first single “Ride to the Country” has been out for about three years and still airs on Dixie 105.7, a country station that serves northeastern North Carolina.
He said he feels good in leading the group.
Johnny Wayne Singleton, who plays lead guitar in Dunlow’s band, shares this sentiment.
Singleton has been with the group for about four years. He has performed with other groups over the years including Hired Guns and Southern Fantasy, and has been a guest guitarist with various groups.
Playing with the Eric Dunlow Band has been a good experience, he said.
“I love these guys,” Singleton said. “We are having fun.”
Everyone in the band has daytime jobs, but they all take music seriously, he said.
“We try to get together at least once a week and rehearse,” Singleton said. “I love these guys. We’re like brothers.
Members of the Eric Dunlow Band are from the counties of Hertford and Gates.
The band’s rhythm guitarist, Floyd Wilkins, said he’s been a part of various bands since high school, but that he has a particularly good feeling for them.
“Everyone is trying really hard and we love doing perks like this, trying to help people,” Wilkins said.