SoWal Insider's Guide to 30A Songwriters Festival 2014

January 17, 2014 by SoWal Staff

Songwriters and music lovers headed to South Walton from every direction. The 5th edition of the 30A Songwriters Festival was bigger and better, with more great music from January 17-19, 2014.

Schedule by Venue - Day - Time

Schedule by Artist - Day - Time

Schedule by Day - Time - Venue

Glossy 11 x 17 Schedule

The Setting - Florida's amazing Scenic Highway 30A with our string of postcard-perfect towns & communities.

The Stages - Stellar stages and intimate rooms - Caliza Restaurant in Alys Beach, Pandora's Steakhouse in Grayton Beach, Fish Out of Water in WaterColor, and Bud and Alley's and Pizza Bar in SeasideHibiscus Coffee & Guesthouse, The green at Gulf PlaceCrush, 723 Whiskey Bravo, and many more.

The Producers - Russell Carter, co-producer/Festival Chair, Russell Carter Artist Management Jennifer Steele, co-producer/Executive Director of the Cultural Arts Alliance of Walton County (CAA)

Jennifer and Russell form a dynamic duo from two organizations that bring together talent on the stage and behind the scenes. Russell's contacts and wealth of talent on hand fill the stages and venues, bringing together every year a surge of great music hitting our beaches. Jennifer is a mainstay on the South Walton art scene (a formidable acting and singing talent herself), who marshals the forces of sponsors and volunteers to handle the thousands of details to make the magic happen. 100% of the net proceeds from the 30A Songwriters Festival benefit the CAA and help it to fulfill its mission to support the arts throughout Walton County.

The Artists - We have amazing stages, but what makes the 30A Songwriters Festival so special is the depth and diversity of writers who perform their own music, and performers who write their own songs. Surprises happen during the festival and create the sweetest moments and fondest memories. It's the thrill of an unexpected artist who catches your ear as you walk between venues. The unknown songbird that grabs your heart as you arrive early for the "bigger name" show.

In 2014, the event will feature 150 songwriters and over 200 performances from such esteemed artists as Kristian Bush (Sugarland), Loudon Wainwright III,  Ani DiFranco, Robert Randolph and the Family Band, Richard Thompson, Shawn Mullins, Jeffrey Steele, John Gorka, Jonathon Edwards, Mary Gauthier, James McMurtry, Bob Schneider, Glenn Phillips Band, Matthew Sweet, Jeffrey Steele, Jim Lauderdale and Tinsley Ellis, with more to be announced.  See complete lineup and artist bios on the 30A Songwriters Festival website.

What's New This Year - A VIP dinner with guest chef Stephen Satterfield from Miller Union (Atlanta) and a wine tasting hosted by wine distributor Adam Caperton (former owner of Larder on 30A) have been added to the 2014 schedule.

The Cultural Arts Alliance of Walton County (CAA) - The CAA is the officially designated local arts agency that serves as an umbrella organization and supports the arts through leadership, advocacy, funding, programs and education. The vision of the CAA is to be the catalyst for Walton County's growth as a center for artistic and cultural excellence through which lives are enriched, economy is stimulated and community is strengthened. Visit to learn more and become a member!

Members of the CAA receive an additional 10% off weekend passes and admission to an exclusive performance on Wednesday Jan. 15 at Fish Out of Water. Call (850) 622-5970 to become a member and take advantage of the discount.

The CAA is always looking for volunteers to help out with the 30A Songwriters Festival - find out more info on the 30A Songwriters website - you'll get insider access, see some great music, and help support the arts in Walton County.

Lodging - Be sure to check the lodging section on the 30A Songwriters Festival website for information on specials from festival lodging partners, including Sunburst Beach Vacations, Ocean Reef Vacation Rentals, Beach Rentals of South Walton and ResortQuest by Wyndham Vacation Rentals - all are also Rental Partners.

The Inside Scoop - The 30A Songwriters Festival has gotten bigger and better every year. And more popular with more locals and visitors who snap up tickets - they sell out so don't wait, get yours now! A weekend pass is $170. Steep? Not if you take a look at the lineup and take advantage of all the shows you can in a fun-filled weekend at the world's most beautiful beaches.

Yes, there are plenty of great shows - but try to slow down. As the excitement of the 30A Songwriters Festival builds, you might find yourself rushing to get to the next venue. Stop yourself and slow down! The best moments are often the unexpected ones between the jams - meeting new friends or talking to an "unknown" performer who you won't be able to get near - later on when they hit it big.

The Links - The official 30A Songwriters Festival Website The 30A Songwriters Festival on Facebook The 30A Songwriters Festival on Twitter, @30AFest, #30AFest

Take a look at some individual performances and compilations from past 30A Songwriters Festivals on the SoWal Youtube Channel.

SoWal Photo Galleries - 20112012, 2013

Update From Russell Carter, Festival Chair, 11/23/13
I just want to make sure you all are up to date on plans for the fifth annual  30A Songwriters Festival coming up in January, 2014. You can buy tickets HERE at the early bird price until the end of November.  I have booked over 100 artists and will complete the roster over the next couple of weeks. The website has all confirmed artists listed with bios and photos, HERE. By all means hit the link on the site and explore our exclusive 30A Songwriters Festival radio station brought to you by Its a great way to familiarize yourself with all of the confirmed artists' music.
We are very excited to announce for 2014 both an acoustic singer songwriters headliner schedule (Saturday, January 18th) and a blues/rock headliner line up (Sunday, January 19th). Loudon Wainwright III, who is considered to be one of the greatest writers of our time, will be performing 30A for the first time. You may know him from his radio hit "Dead Skunk (In the Middle of the Road)," or his appearances on TV series "Mash" or in the movie "Knocked UP,' for which he wrote the theme song, "Daughter" or from the twenty two and counting studio albums that he has recorded over the last thirty years. He is a Grammy award winning songwriter, an actor, a humorist, a playwright - and the dad of Rufus, Martha and Lucy. He is a personal favorite of mine.  He will co-headline with the British sing songwriter Richard Thompson. Richard would probably be known as the king of hybrid finger picking acoustic guitarists except for that fact that he is equally adept and unique as a Fender Stratocaster player - and has an amazing voice and razor sharp lyrical skills - so let's not call him anything other than part of a brilliant day of music on 30A. Add to the mix writer, poet, feminist icon Ani DiFranco  and I think you get the picture that Saturday, January 18th will be a stellar day.
Everyone knows and loves Kristian Bush, former member of Billy Pilgrim and the pretty half of the super group duo Sugarland. Kristian recently released a new solo single and will hit the road in January in support of his new  project - we are lucky that 30A will be his first stop!
On  Sunday, January 19th, Robert Randolph and the Family Band, Tinsley Ellis and the Atlanta based Glenn Phillips Band will plug in and rock like nothing 30A has ever seen at an outdoor facility - blistering pedal steel virtuosity, classic original blues rock and esoteric electric lead of the first order - Robert, Tinsley and Glenn will do it all.
Many talented and well respected singer songwriters who have never played the Festival will join us in January including John Gorka, Marshall Crenshaw, James McMurtry, Teddy Thompson, Ellis Paul, Bob Schneider, Rusty Young from Poco, Grant Lee Phillips, Jonathan Edwards, Craig Fuller from Pure Prairie League and Pierce Pettis.
It wouldn't be the 30A Songwriters Festival without some of your favorite returning artists - Shawn Mullins, John Oates, Jim Lauderdale, Jeffrey Steele, Matthew Sweet, The Shadowboxers, Mary Gauthier, Will Kimbrough, Joe Leathers, Kim Ritchie among them.
I am mentioning a few of the 150 artists who will perform. As always, our favorite artists local to 30A will be showcased as well as twenty emerging artists picked from hundreds of submissions on our SonicBids site.
You may have heard that we will spice things up a bit with VIP offerings of celebrity chef dinners and a wine tasting. More details on that soon. We are beefing up our free shuttle service and syncing it up to our phone app so you can track where the buses are and avoid waits.  Please contact our lodging partners to help you book the best housing.      

If you are a member of the Cultural Arts Alliance (or want to join now), mark your calendar for Wednesday, January 15th for the members only annual kickoff concert at Fish Out of Water.

Update From Russell Carter, Festival Chair, 12/13/13

Plans for the 2014 fifth annual 30A Songwriters Festival are nearing completion and we are looking forward to the best Festival ever.  We are announcing today that tickets will remain at the initial early bird price level for one more week - $170 for weekend passes if you purchase them between now and the end of the day next Friday, December 20th. Thereafter, they will be $180 until the end of the year and then $190 in January. 

The afternoon amphitheater schedule will unfold as follows: Saturday afternoon at Gulf Place Amphitheater we will feature Richard Thompson, Loudon Wainwright III and Ani DeFranco. On Sunday the artists will plug in and the Glen Phillips Band, Tinsley Ellis and Robert Randolph and the Family Band will sonically light up 30A!

The depth of talent performing at night throughout the weekend is, in the words of one our favorite marketing friends on 30A, STAGGERING. In no particular order, Kristian Bush will play a headline gig on his own and a round with the esteemed Ellis Paul, with whom he has collaborated. John Oates is back by popular demand and will play a solo set and a round with Jim Lauderdale. Jesse Harris, Song of the Year Grammy winner as writer of the Nora Jones hit "Don't Know Why" and accomplished recording artist in his own right will debut at the Festival this year. It's no coincidence that James McMurtry seems to effortlessly condense what could be a novel into a four minute concise slice of life like "Levelland" and "Chactow Bingo". He obviously has genes from his father, Larry McMurtry, (Lonesome Dove, Terms of Endearment, the Last Picture Show). James has many fans on 30A including Shawn Mullins, who will be back in 2014  - maybe we can get those two on stage for a 60 minute songfest!

Rusty Young, pedal steel player, guitarist and writer for the original and brilliant country rock band Poco will be there and share the stage one night with Craig Fuller, who wrote and sang one of everyone's favorite folk rock songs "Aimee" (and of course joined Little Feat and toured with them from the late 80's through the early 90's).

Just touching the surface here: Marshall Crenshaw performs brilliantly and writes on the same level - the 80's wouldn't be the 80's without "Cynical Girl" ringing in your ears. NPR proclaims that Teddy Thompson is "the musical equivalent of an arrow to the heart," while The New York Times calls his work "beautifully finessed." We are very proud to feature father and son both at our 2014 Festival! Have I mentioned Jerry Douglas? Bob Schneider? John Gorka? Matthew Sweet? Jeffrey Steele? Mary Gauthier? Jonathan Edwards? Grant Lee Phillips? It is going to be an amazing weekend!

I am happy to send more information on our line up soon but want to get this out to you now. Remember to grab your early bird tickets now.

Update From Russell Carter, Festival Chair, 1/4/14

The 30A Songwriters Festival is only two weeks away! There are limited tickets available, so please be sure to secure yours sooner than later. Buy tickets HERE or get them locally at the CAA office or Central Square Records.

I would also like to urge you to download the brand NEW official 30A Songwriters Festival app on your Android or iPhone. You can access the download links directly from the 30A Songwriters Festival WEBSITE or use these links here: ANDROID or IPHONE. The old app is still in the app store but it is disabled so avoid the one that is labeled TownWizard. Many thanks to Mike Ragsdale and the 30A.COM team for upgrading the phone app!

The VIP dinners are now confirmed and tickets will go on sale online on Monday. Each dinner is priced at $180. On Saturday, January 18th at 4:30 PM the WaterSound Beach Club will host Joe Truex, the renowned chef from Watershed on Peachtree in Atlanta who will serve a four course gourmet meal with special wines -  music by Kristian Bush of Sugarland fame. Grayton Bar & Grill will host James Beard award finalist chef Steven Satterfield from Atlanta's Miller Union on Sunday, January 19th starting at 5:30 PM. This will be a four course feast with wine and music provided by 30A favorite Shawn Mullins. Wine consultant Adam Caperton will select the wines for all courses at both dinners which are included in the ticket price.

Congratulations to Barbara Blevens: the winner of the Atlanta Magazine contest giveaway for two weekend passes and accommodations courtesy of ResortQuest by Wyndham Vacation Rentals.

We are finalizing the complete schedule this weekend and will publish it by mid week. As always there will be an extraordinary array of musical talent amassed on Highway 30A. Turn on our radio station [link here] and spend some time with the music of all of our confirmed artists - it is as good as radio gets in this day and age!


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Offering news, features, insider tips & info, photos and video all across the South Walton area.

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