Story

30A Songwriters Festival a Huge Success for Music Makers and Lovers

January 21, 2013 by Danny Burns

As songs from the 30A Songwriters Festival still ring in our minds, as the last notes of Cooper Carter and the Royal Senders still echo through Pandora’s, and as patrons and artists drift out of South Walton, thanks are in order for the Cultural Arts Alliance of Walton County.

Folks, you pulled it off beautifully, yet again. 

I have been fortunate enough to participate in the event as stage manager, emcee, and now journalist for SoWal.com since its inception in 2010. I am quite grateful for this and hope I am allowed to attend for many years to come. Seeing old friends, meeting new ones, finding new music and gaining a new appreciation for music from my past is what this event is all about for me.

As I began looking over the 2013 schedule, I was struck not only by how many artists I already knew and loved, but by so many that I had never heard of before. To my great surprise, new discoveries made the experience so exciting and so much fun. As of the writing of this article on the Monday following the 30A Songwriters Festival, I am exhausted, but at the same time exhilarated by all of the new music churning around in my head.

There was so much incredible talent in SoWal these last few days, it was overwhelming to a music lover to try and absorb it all. Talking with old friend Kim Richey for an hour before her show at Bentley’s was such a pleasure. She sounds as wonderful as ever, and we got to hear a few new songs from her upcoming album release, as well as some of my old favorites. We love you, Kim.

Sharing the stage with her Saturday night was Holly Williams, with her incredible, poignant country songs. After a few of her melodic and melancholy songs, we found out she comes by her talent naturally. She is the granddaughter of the legendary Hank Williams, and daughter of Bocephus himself. Her vocal stylings are inspirational and I see her as a force to be reckoned with in her own right.

Tift Merritt was another surprise, though not to her longtime fans. She wowed the audience at Gulf Place and made a new fan out of me and many others.

It was great to see and talk with the Shadowboxers and find that their popularity has exploded since I first met them as college students, just beginning their musical careers together three years ago at the second annual 30A Songwriters Festival. They’re about to release their first full length album and are on the cusp of widespread recognition.

The highlight of my festival experience was when, at the Gulf Place Amphitheater, the clouds parted and the sun warmed our bodies as Suzanne Vega and Mary-Chapin Carpenter warmed our hearts with favorites new and old.

We were privileged witnesses to many incredible performances throughout the festival weekend, but these stand out as my favorites. No matter what your personal experience was for this special moment in time called the 30A Songwriters Festival, we all came away with our hearts warmed and our souls touched.

I can’t wait until next year’s festival. I’m looking forward to what comes next in the evolution of this one-of-a-kind event for our little piece of paradise we call South Walton. Thank you CAA.

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Danny Burns

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