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Mark your calendar: The Beaufort Water Festival
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Ordinarily, the goings–on in Beaufort don’t attract a lot of attention down Savannah way. But the 2010 Beaufort Water Festival — July 16–25 — has a couple of entertainment options that bear discussing.

These are acts that I, personally, wouldn’t mind seeing on a Savannah stage.

But Beaufort it is, and the Water Festival, with its family fishing tournament, sea kayak races, fireworks, air show and Corn Hole Tournament (it’s not what you think) is the closest thing to a summertime family fair we’ll get within quite a few miles.

On to the entertainment. Performing on Saturday, July 17 is country singer Jake Owen. He’s a native of Vero Beach, Fla., who grew up playing golf (!) and tennis with his best childhood chum, Mardy Fish (a professional tennis player who won the silver at the 2004 Olympics).

Owen, whose real first name is Josh, turned to singing and songwriting less than a decade ago after an injury forced him to give up on his dreams of professional golf (for which he’d actually received a scholarship).

Turns out he was good at it – way good, in fact – and he was signed to RCA Records shortly after he first arrived in Nashville, hat in hand.

His hits include “Yee Haw,” Somethin’ About a Woman,“ ”Startin’ With Me“ and ”Don’t Think I Can’t Love You.” He’s also known for a cool version of  “Life in a Northern Town,” cut with Sugarland and Little Big Town.

Although he’s only 28 years old, Owen is one of those “old souls” that pass through country’s ranks every once in a while. I’ve seen his live show several times, and along with that youthful energy (and the kind of hunky good looks the girls go for), he has the baritone voice of a young Haggard or Twitty. His records do not do him justice.

Owen performs at 8 p.m. in Waterfront Park, with Savannah’s Chuck Courtenay Band opening. Concert tickets are $20.

There’s something going on in the park every night – from a local talent show to an act called “Parrots of the Caribbean.”

On Thursday, July 22, you can get a low country supper for $15, with a concert performance by the Atlanta–based band The Return.

I’ve seen a lot of Beatles tribute bands – a few more than I care to remember, actually – and The Return made the biggest impression on me.

Sure they do the wigs, the suits and the stage mannerisms – the whole bit – but the setlist ranges far beyond the same old hits performed robotically by all the other faux Fab Fours.

The guys in The Return are real musicians, and real singers, and their vocal harmonies are tight and polished. They know what they’re doing – and still, they seem to be having a great time onstage, enthusiasm which quite naturally rubs off on the audience.

See for additional info et cetera.