SoWal Insider's Guide to 30A Songwriters Festival 2017

January 4, 2017 by SoWal Staff

If you love the beach and you love music, then you have to get yourself to SoWal in January. (We hope you don't know anyone who doesn't love the beach and music.)

Songwriters and music lovers from near and far focus on South Walton beaches every year on Martin Luther King Jr. weekend. The 8th annual 30A Songwriters Festival will brings more great music for SoWal beach lovers from January 13-16, 2017 - with performances by 175 artists on more than 20 stages! We'll post the official schedule here when released.

2017 30A Songwriters Festival SCHEDULE
Schedule by Venue
Schedule by Artist

We'll add updates to this post as we receive them - so check back often.

The 2017 30A Songwriters Festival features headline performances from John Prine, Cheap Trick, Dr. John & The Nite Trippers, and Shawn Colvin. Also on the main stage are Parker Millsap, Drivin N Cryin, and Motel Mirrors (featuring Amy LaVere and Will Sexton). Featured artists in venues at night on  Scenic 30A include John Fullbright, Over the Rhine, JoJo Hermann (Widespread Panic), Chely Wright, Murray Attaway (Guadalcanal Diary), Sarah Lee Guthrie, Matthew Sweet, Tom Gray (The Brains), Shawn Mullins, Peter Case, John Gorka, Nicole Witt, and Farewell Angelina.

Among the total of 175 stellar songwriters who will perform and have distinguished themselves in bands and on pop charts in various genres of music are Emerson Hart (Tonic), David Ryan  Harris (John Mayer band), David Hodges (Evanescence), Michelle Malone, Peter Holsapple (the dB's), Jeffrey Steele, Lari White, Ellis Paul, Chris Stills, Heather Maloney, Robby Hecht, Elise Davis, Caroline Spence, David Berkeley, Joe Leathers, Peter Karp, Webb Wilder, Jonathan Tyler, Cory Chisel, Robert Ellis, Jonny Fritz, Luther Dickenson, Charlie Mars, Griffin House, Michael McDermott, Dan Navarro, Dan Bern, Hailey Whitters, Sean McConnell, Trea Landon, Muscadine Bloodline, Jacob Powell, Eliot Bronson, Brigitte DeMeyer, Smokin’ Novas, Lilly Winwood, Ben Glover, Daphne Willis, Davin McCoy, Billy Montana, Kyle Jacobs, Callaghan, Don Dixon & Marti Jones, Cale Dodds, Logan Brill, Hannah Dasher, Derek George, Jaren Johnston, Josh Kear, Josh Kerr, Phil Madeira, Willis Alan Ramsey, Jimmy Robbins, Frank Rogers, Cole Taylor, Abe Stoklasa, Tommy Talton, Brian White & Karyn Williams, Willie Sugarcapps, Sugarcane Jane, Grayson Capps, Will Kimbrough, Corky Hughes, Cooper Carter,  Connor Garvey, Jemina & Selina, Hannah Thomas, Jonathan Mitchell, Courtyard Saints, Wyatt Edmondson, and ESOEBO.

Click here to see the lineup with artist info.

Tickets always sell out - Click here to buy tickets!

- Click here for 30A Songwriter's Festival Photos to share on your facebook, website, email, etc.

- Get your official 30A Songwriters Festival gear at the WaterColor Box Office at Fish Out of Water ground floor and at Gulf Place during the outdoor shows there. There's no better way to show off back home than a 30A Songwriters T-shirt or cap. Besides if it's chilly you'll need to add layers. Or bypass the lines and buy gear online.

- Grayton Beer Company is the official festival beer. You can find Grayton Beer at every festival venue. Tip - buy Grayton Beer gear online at


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



The Venues - Stellar stages and intimate rooms
Caliza Restaurant in Alys Beach, Pandora's Steakhouse in Grayton Beach, Fish Out of Water in WaterColor, Bud and Alley's and Pizza Bar in Seaside, Hibiscus Coffee & Guesthouse, Rosemary Beach Town Hall, 723 Whiskey Bravo, 30Avenue in Inlet Beach, Grand Boulevard in Sandestin , Trebeaché'and many more.

Some venues are intimate and quiet and you should keep talking to a minimum. Some venues get pretty loud - especially late night.

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.

The Cultural Arts Alliance of Walton County (CAA) - 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!

The CAA is always looking for volunteers to help out with the 30A Songwriters Festival - 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 - for many more options check out 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! 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 LinksThe 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.

Update 11/14/16
We are adding artists to the bill daily. Check the website for updates. Recently added acts include Sarah Lee Guthrie, Boukou Groove, Over the Rhine, Tommy Womack, Jennifer Knapp, Brett James, Willis Alan Ramsey, Towne, Dave Franklin, Donnie Sundal, Granville Automatic, Joe Purdy, Steve Poltz, The Mulligan Brothers, The Tall Pines, Wildlife Specials, and Max McCann. is also online and updated daily. There is no better place to listen exclusively to 2017 30A Songwriters Festival music - get acquainted ahead of time with all of the artists.
The VIP dinner on Friday night will feature a four course dinner created by James Beard Award-winner (Best Chef in the Southeast, no less) Ashley Christensen. The price for the dinner includes the meal, wine pairings by Adam Caperton, a signed copy of Ashley's new cookbook "Poole's," and an exclusive performance by Chris Stills and Bonnie Bishop.
For the Saturday night VIP dinner, we are pleased to feature chef Zeb Stevenson from Watershed on Peachtree, famous for farm to table progressive gourmet Southern food. Adam Caperton will develop wine pairings with the chef. Attendees on Saturday night will be treated to an up close and personal solo performance by Parker Millsap.

Update 12/2/16
The 30A Songwriters Festival has partnered with to create an exclusive online radio station featuring the upcoming 2017 artists. Hear them here before you hear them live!

Update 12/4/16
We are very pleased to announce that we are adding four new diverse venues to the 2017 30A Songwriters Festival: The Hub and Gulf Place on Highway 30A, and Borago and The Bay on Highway 331 at the foot of the Choctawhatchee Bay bridge.

For those of you who are not familiar with The Hub, it is a fabulous, year-round complex on 30A that features a great food court with several restaurant and bar options, a huge big-screen, a permanent stage for music, and many cool shops and galleries surrounding the common spaces. It is also custom made for 30A Songwriters performances! We will feature jazz brunches on Saturday and Sunday and varied performances at night in a very comfortable and spacious section of The Hub that is covered, heated and serviced by the restaurants and bars.

We are thrilled that Gulf Place is returning as a 30A Songwriters Festival venue, now as an evening performance spot. The venue will be covered by a large 500-capacity heated tent with a full bar.

If you were lucky enough to stay for lunch on your way out of town last year and caught the "Late Check-Out Party," then you know what a fun live music venue The Bay is. In addition to continuing to be a venue for the "Late Check-Out Party", The Bay will now also be an official Venue Partner for the 2017 weekend, featuring two stages each night of the festival.

Right across Highway 331, Borago will host the 2017 VIP Dinner & Shows on Friday and Saturday evenings. This contemporary Italian restaurant will also transform into a music venue on Sunday, and will make its debut as the additional venue for Monday's "Late Check-Out Party'!

Both of Monday's "Late Check-Out Party" venues are set right on the Gulf's Choctawhatchee Bay and have spectacular sunsets views, great food, and full bars!

Update 12/14/16
We continue to fill out the roster. Recently confirmed artists include AJ Ghent Band, WAGES, Joe Purdy, The Secret Sisters, Ed Roland & The Sweet Tea Project, Adron, Jeff Black, Jack Ingram, Jennifer Knapp, The Mulligan Brothers, The Wide Open, Ty Herndon, Crystal Bowersox, Sarah Potenza, Towne, Bob Schneider, Brian Collins, Kim Richey, Marc Harris and Reed Waddle. More announcements are coming this week! It's an abundance of talent. We are honored to present all of these amazing artists over Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend.

Update 12/16/16
Check out and review the full roster of artists performing - we will be adding a few up and coming artists to the roster from Sonic Bids applicants, and also a handful of additional touring acts that are finalizing their schedules last minute.
John Prine, Cheap Trick, Dr. John & The Nite Trippers, Shawn Colvin, Drivin N Cryin, Shawn Mullins, John Fullbright, Parker Millsap, Over The Rhine, Matthew Sweet, Ed Roland and the Sweet Tea Project, JoJo Hermann (Widespread Panic), John Gorka, Murray Attaway (Guadalcanal Diary), Ellis Paul, Stephen Kellogg, Peter Case, Tom Gray (The Brains), Jonny Fritz, Cory Chisel, Robert Ellis, Chely Wright, Amy LaVere, Secret Sisters, Sarah Lee Guthrie, Michelle Malone, Peter Holsapple (the dBs), Bob Schneider, Dan Navarro, Charlie Mars, Willis Alan Ramsey, Griffin House, Ty Herndon, Joe Purdy, Tommy Womack, David Ryan Harris (John Mayer band), Chris Stills, David Hodges (Evanescence), Emerson Hart (Tonic), Jeffrey Steele, Steve Poltz, Jack Ingram, Bonnie Bishop, Towne, AJ Ghent Band, Caroline Spence, Edie Carey, Dan Bern, Robby Hecht, Lari White, Jaren Johnston, Nikki Lane, Jonathan Tyler, John Driskell Hopkins, Kyle Jacobs, Joe Leathers, Ben Glover, Billy Montana, Daphne Willis, Sean McConnell, Eliot Bronson, Lilly Winwood, Elise Davis, Webb Wilder, Hannah Thomas, Michael McDermott, Brigitte DeMeyer, Don Dixon & Marti Jones, Peter Karp, Cale  Dodds, Hannah Dasher, Callaghan, Kim Richey, Jennifer Knapp, Will Kimbrough, Sugarcane Jane, Grayson Capps & Corky Hughes, Willie Sugarcapps, Michigan Rattlers, Brian White, Karyn Williams, Nicole Witt, Farewell Angelina, Connor  Garvey, Jeff Black, Derek George, David Berkeley, Davin McCoy, Adron, WAGES, Jemina & Selina, Mary Bragg, Becky Warren,Pete Sallis, Josh Kear, Kelsey Waters, Donnie Sundal, Tommy Talton, Boukou Groove, Josh Kerr, Crystal Bowersox, Trea Landon, Phil Madeira, The Honey Dewdrops, Heather Maloney, The Tall Pines, Brian Collins, Jonathan Mitchell, Reed Waddle, Granville Automatic, Cooper Carter, Chris Alvarado, Jacob Powell, Marc Harris, Brent Anderson, Jimmy Robbins, Chas Sandford, Sarah Potenza, Frank Rogers, Blake Guthrie, Kristin Diable, Smokin' Novas, Abe Stoklasa, Bridgette Tatum, Will Sexton, Ben Fields, Continuum, Jeremy Lister, Kent DuChaine, Sterling Fletcher, Wesley Cook, Sainte Jane, Cole Taylor, Hailey Whitters, The Mulligan Brothers, Across The Wide, The Wide Open, Grant Peeples, Kyle LaMonica, Max McCann, Logan Brill, The Mosleys, Dave Franklin, Courtyard Saints, Wildlife Specials, Chuck McDowell, Wyatt Edmondson, and Jennifer Simpson.

Update 12/19/16
Celebrity Chefs
Friday's VIP dinner add on includes a four-course meal with wine pairings at Borago prepared by celebrity chef Ashley Christensen from Raleigh, NC (Poole's Diner, Chicken & Honey, and Death & Taxes). Music will be provided by Chris Stills and Bonnie Bishop. Price includes an autographed copy of Ashley's new cookbook.
Saturday's VIP dinner add on includes a four-course meal prepared by celebrity chef Zeb Stevenson from Watershed on Peachtree in Atlanta and includes special wine pairings as well. Dinner guests will be treated to an exclusive performance by Parker Milsapp.
Tickets can be purchased online HERE.

Update 12/29/16 - venues listed west to east:
- grand boulevard
- borago
- the bay - main room & patio
- vue on 30a dining room & patio
- gulf place
- trebeaché - ballroom & reception
- hibiscus coffee & guesthouse backyard of love
- the craft bar
- fish out of water
- the boathouse (watercolor)
- the lake house (watercolor)
- the gathering spot (watercolor)
- bud & alley's
- pizza bar
- seaside meeting hall
- central square records
- 723 whiskey bravo
- old florida fish house - bar & dining room
- grayton beer taproom
- the hub
- caliza pool
- rosemary beach town hall
- the pearl
- amavida (rosemary beach)
- 30avenue 


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