The “2012 River Celebration,” a benefit for the Winyah Rivers Foundation’s Winyah Riverkeeper Program, will mark a homecoming for a man whose growing up in Conway flows in the music he writes in Nashville, Tenn.
The foundation, based at the Coastal Carolina University Center for Marine and Wetland Studies in Conway, will celebrate its mission – protecting and revitalizing the watershed that empties into Winyah Bay in Georgetown – with a event 5-9 p.m. Sunday at The Riverside Club in Conway. Besides a boat ride on the Waccamaw River and a demonstration in falconry, Jesse Rice will perform.
Rice spent a few minutes Monday by phone chatting about how much he cherishes Conway, especially since he grew up and moved away. The graduate of Conway High School and Furman University in Greenville laughed about the pace of awards shows he attended last week, with several music publishers each having their own parties, as well as the 46th annual Country Music Association Awards.
Riding a new high, Rice co-wrote Florida Georga Line’s debut single, “Cruise,” with both of its members, Brian Kelley and Tyler Hubbard – natives of the Sunshine and Peach states, respectively. The duo also will open Thursday with Love and Theft for Jake Owen at House of Blues in North Myrtle Beach.
For me, “Cruise” is honestly like the invitation that gets me in the door. I have very lofty goals for myself. “Cruise” is just a little gas in the tank, to get me to the destination where I really want to be.
We wrote it in my living room, on Sept. 13, 2011, barely over a year ago. We wrote it in the middle of another song, “When God Runs Out of Rain.” ... We went out to lunch and came back, and we’re just sitting there, getting refocused. Then we started messing a guitar riff and little things. We really wrote “Cruise” in about 30 minutes. ... It was completed in the middle of another writing session in another song.
Conway is a great town. It’s not a small town. When I was there, it was a small town. When I was there last time, I said, “Where did all this traffic come from?” ... Conway has given me that multicolored pattern to draw from. I love it, I really do, and the people who were around when I grew up. ... It served me well in this big, ol’ world.