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Column: Moonlight music cruise doesn’t disappoint

(Disclaimer: Columns often include personal opinions)

An annual rite of spring for my husband and me is the Augusta Canal Moonlight Music Cruise – a tour-hour leisurely ride in a Petersburg boat with a couple of musicians playing live acoustic sets.

Rain forced our Cinco De Mayo cruise to be pushed to Saturday, May 13. That led to not as many participants in the usually sold-out spring series on Fridays, but that also led to a more casual event with a lot of audience interaction, impromptu moments and tons of laughter.

Berita Martin and Roger Bellow. Charmain Z. Brackett/Augusta Good News

Roger Bellow and Berita Martin had a Cinco De Mayo set list ready for May 5, and while the duo, who also teach Spanish, threw in some Latin-inspired sound, they shook up their tunes. Bellow played guitar and fiddle and sang as Martin added vocals and a variety of percussion instruments.

The boat launches on the canal just up from the Canal Discovery Center at Enterprise Mill.

With Tony, our boat captain for the night, at the helm, the Petersburg Boat glided along the Canal from downtown toward Columbia County.

The temperature drops several degrees when you’re on the Canal, and the light breeze created as we sailed along added to a comfortable night.

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The duo brought songs such as Blue Suede Shoes, Route 66, Georgia on My Mind and Folsom Prison Blues. We didn’t have a train whistle, but Tony added the boat horn on cue.

Natlie Suber (at left) and Jade Nealious dance aboard the Petersburg boat May 13. Charmain Z. Brackett/Augusta Good News

Joining us on the cruise were two sisters, Jade and Jessica Nealious from Aiken and their friend Natlie Suber, who just finished her semester at the University of South Carolina.

With fewer patrons on the boat, the trio had room to create a small dance floor. And Bellow traversed the boat a few times serenading patrons with his fiddle.

It wasn’t long before the concert shifted into an impromptu sing-along with the starboard and port side of the boat pitted against one another in a rendition of You Are My Sunshine.

As we sang and enjoyed the melodies performed by the duo, we also had the chance to see a version of the Canal not seen unless you’re on the water. Bicyclists and walkers took to the tow path, and we passed several groups of kayakers.

We also saw a lonesome white duck and some turtles on a log near the shore.

The sky after sunset on May 13. Charmain Z. Brackett/Augusta Good News

Several people fished from the banks of the Canal and waved as we went by, disturbing their dinner plans.

The night ended with a beautiful sunset and the hues of purple, pink and blue painted across the sky.

 “This is the first time we’ve done this, but it will not be the last,” said Jade Nealious. “This is a hidden gem. It’s great for families, a date night or a ladies’ night out.”

The moonlight cruises run April through the end of June and take a break from the heat of July and August, returning for September to November. They offer a variety of musical styles as well. We’ve heard jazz, a Billy Joel tribute and Americana/bluegrass over the years.

A complete schedule is available here.

Charmain Z. Brackett is the publisher of Augusta Good News. Reach her at Sign up for the newsletter here.

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