SoWal Insider's Guide to 30A Songwriters Festival 2018

January 10, 2018 by SoWal Staff

We know you love the beach. And who doesn't love music?! Beach & music lovers converge every January in SoWal for the annual 30A Songwriters Festival.

The 9th annual 30A Songwriters Festival brings more great music for SoWal beach lovers from January 12-15, 2018 - with performances by 175 artists on more than 20 stages! 

2018 30A Songwriters Festival SCHEDULE
​The full artist schedule is officially posted on the Festival website. You can check out the schedule by artist, by day, or by venue. 
View 30A Songwriters Festival Schedule Here: SCHEDULE |

The 2018 30A Songwriters Festival features headline performances by Ann Wilson of Heart, Emmylou Harris, Steve Earle, The Zombies, North Mississippi Allstars and Lee Ann Womack. Also confirmed for premier nighttime performances are Charles Kelly of Lady Antebellum, Patty Griffin, Emily Saliers of Indigo Girls with her solo Murmuration Nation band, Shawn Mullins and Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame members Mike Reid and Craig Wiseman.

Among the 175 stellar songwriters who will perform at the 2018 Festival are Tommy Stinson (the Replacements, Bash & Pop), John Gorka, Gretchen Peters, Jeffrey Steele, Kim Richey, Mary Gauthier, Jeff Black, Will Kimbrough, Dan Navarro, The War & Treaty, Wyatt Durette, Farewell Angelina, Griffin House, Levi Lowrey, Gabriel Kelley, Michael McDermott, Peter Case, Charlie Mars, Peter Bradley Adams, Chris Stills, Emerson Hart (Tonic), David Ryan Harris (John Mayer Band), David Hodges (Evanescence), Erick Baker, Heather Horton, Jesse Terry, Joe Crookston, Old Salt Union, Peter Karp, Randall Bramblett, Robby Hecht, Don Dixon and Marti Jones, Becky Warren, Alex Guthrie, Jemina & Selina, Mary Bragg, Blue Jays, Josh Osborne, Jaren Johnston, Mark Irwin, Jonathan Singleton, Jeremy Stover, Matt Dragstrem, Adam Hambrick, Jacob Davis, Austin Jenckes, David Berkeley, Davin McCoy, Matt Hires, David Robert King, Eliot Bronson, and Michelle Malone.

The 30A Songwriters Festival production team transforms amphitheaters, town halls, restaurants, theaters, bars and covered patios into unique music venues ranging in capacity from 75 to 500 seats indoors and 5,000 outdoors. A variety of festival weekend passes are now available starting at $280 and can be purchased at, and locally in South Walton at the Cultural Arts Alliance office in Santa Rosa Beach, the Foster Gallery in Grand Boulevard and at Central Square Records in Seaside.

"The 30A Songwriters Festival is a unique cultural event like no other in this area. The Festival brings together nearly every South Walton community and many businesses to showcase our home as a destination not only for its beautiful beaches but also for its musical and creative excellence, which is the purpose of the Cultural Arts Alliance," says Jennifer Steele, the Executive Director and Festival Co-Producer. "The Festival is critical to the mission of the Cultural Arts Alliance and by far our biggest fundraiser. 100% of the Festival's net proceeds go back into our non-profit and enable the CAA to continue to be a champion for the arts in Walton County."

The 30A Songwriters Festival has once again teamed up with NPR's Folk Alley, a multi-media music service produced by WKSU. Folk Alley will be on site throughout the weekend producing unique sessions interviewing artists and filming and recording performances in a home studio on 30A. The in-studio Sessions are aired on the syndicated Folk Alley Radio Show. The Sessions from the 30A Songwriters Festival are archived as well at ASCAP returns as a sponsor and hosts a three-night series of up-and-coming and seasoned songwriters in the round and late night artist parties.

Four-course VIP dinners hosted by award-winning guest chefs are being offered on Friday and Saturday nights. Both dinners will include wine pairings by Adam Caperton as well as special musical guests to be announced at a later date. VIP tickets offering premium seating on the lawn at Grand Boulevard for the headline shows on Saturday and Sunday afternoons and access to the VIP tent serving complementary food, beer, wine and cocktails are available online at Additional VIP offerings include various all weekend transportation packages for parties of two up to 12 as well as a special night of music and free craft beers at the local based Grayton Beer Company Taproom.

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.

- 30A Songrwriters Festival Headquarters is at the WaterColor Inn - just south of Scenic 30A at WaterColor - 34 Goldenrod Circle (all ticket holders must pick up their wristband at the box office).
Wednesday, January 10 --- 3pm -  7pm
Thursday, January 11 --- 10am - 10pm
Friday, January 12 --- 10am - 10pm
Saturday, January 13 --- 12pm - 6pm
Sunday, January 14 --- CLOSED
- Main Stage at Grand Boulevard - The Foster Gallery - 560 Grand Boulevard, Suite L101 Miramar Beach, FL 32550 (all ticket holders must pick up their wristband at the box office).
Saturday, January 13 --- 10am - 4pm
Sunday, January 14 --- 10am - 4pm

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, AJ's in Grayton Beach, Bud and Alley's and Pizza Bar in Seaside, Hibiscus Coffee & Guesthouse, Rosemary Beach Town Hall, 723 Whiskey Bravo, The Pointe in Inlet Beach, Grand Boulevard in Sandestin 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, Resortquest by Wyndham Vacation Rentals, WaterColor Inn, The Pearl, Alys Beach - 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 1/3/18

The shuttle buses will be running back and forth on 30A from Vue to Rosemary Beach from 5:30pm until 12:00am, Friday through Sunday. Buses will also be at the public lot on CR 283 in Grayton Beach (across from 30A Local Real Estate/Hurricane Oyster Bar) and at the Silver Sands Premium Outlets parking lot on Saturday and Sunday mornings beginning at 10:30am and continuing until 12:30pm to take people to the headline shows at Grand Boulevard. They will be at Grand Boulevard to take folks back to the same two spots at the end of the afternoon shows.  All stops are listed on the map, on the website, and in the program. Please take advantage of this service.

If you take my advice on just one thing, make it this: do not wait in ANY long lines unless house managers assure you that you will get inside in a reasonable amount of time. Inevitably a few venues become very popular and, given the first-come, first-served rule, they fill up for the night. However at any given hour of the night, most of the 28 venues have room for more customers. Take the advice of house managers and pivot to nearby venues that are not crowded. There are 175 artists performing over 230 shows this weekend. You cannot walk into a venue and see anything other than amazing music. Become a new fan of artists that you were unfamiliar with. This weekend is a great opportunity to discover new music! Many people have learned to find a cool venue and settle in for a night of discovery and new music. 

Grand Boulevard opens at 11:30am on Saturday and 11:30am on Sunday.   Come early and stay all afternoon - the food and beverage menu is varied and extensive - no coolers allowed but plenty of great food, cocktails, wine and beer will be sold on the premises. You are going to be impressed with our new amphitheater, stage and video screen. The talent we have booked deserves the best production and our audience deserves a premium outdoor concert experience. You will very quickly appreciate why we moved to Grand Boulevard. They are very classy hosts! 

Back by popular demand and expanded - the Late Checkout Party.  Stop by The Bay restaurant on 331 at the bridge  and join everyone for great food and drinks and of course fantastic music.  Lots of musicians, local and national, will hit it one last time -Ken Block & Drew Copeland of Sister Hazel, Hayes Carll, Randall Bramblett, Amy LaVere, Elise Davis, Seth Walker, Liz Longley, Eliot Bronson, Ruthie Foster and the Courtyard Saints.


Update 1/9/18

The schedule is published on the website in several forms - use what is most convenient for you but please remember, it is updated slightly everyday to accommodate each artists' schedule. Rely ultimately on the printed schedule you receive at the box office and the one on the website which is easily accessed on your phone! 

Pace yourself - there is abundant music all weekend. 

Build around the headline shows on Saturday and Sunday at Grand Boulevard - these headline shows are not to be missed and we do not book anything against them. There is a variety of great food and drinks, cool merch and artist CDs at Grand Blvd  - AND you can take a shuttle there and back. Overflow parking and shuttles will also be available from Silver Sands Premium Outlets.

Consider beginning your Saturday and Sunday with brunch and music. Bud & Alley's is famous for the Hair of the Dog Hoot (10:00 AM- 12:00 PM Saturday) hosted by Jeff Black. The Craft Bar will feature a champagne and fried chicken brunch with music from Kentucky sponsored by the Oxford American (10:00 AM - 12:00 PM Saturday) and more food and music on Sunday. Back by very popular demand will be two sets of Gospel Hour music Sunday morning at Caliza (9:30 AM and 11:00 AM - the house turns between sets). Jazz and gypsy is featured at The Hub with the Nicole Chillemi trio and Mose Wilson & the Delta Twang. Perennial favorites year round on each end of 30A are Hibiscus and the Pearl. (Inside tip - mark down Sunday at Hibiscus if you are a Paul Thorn fan and google Tales & Ales - its confirmed for 11:00 AM). Need a Bloody Mary with your live music? The build-your-own Bloody Mary at The Pearl's Havana Beach Bar is the best on 30A. 

Want a healthier start to the day? The Yoga + Music Convergence starts every day at 9 AM at The Lake House.

Friday - The Festival kick-off at AJ's (4:00 PM  to 6:00 PM) features Ruthie Foster and Willie's granddaughter, Raelyn Nelson Band. Central Square Records (3:00 PM - 6:00 PM) begins with cold Grayton Beer, Grayson Capps and Chris Stills. And we are excited to introduce you to The Pointe at 4:00 PM with a delicious Food & Wine walk-about (French and Italian wine tastings). Enjoy one of these fabulous kickoff parties or go early to your favorite venue and get situated.

Strategy? Pick a cluster of venues that you can walk to and make it an evening (e.g.The Craft Bar, Hibiscus, AJ's OR the Vue (two stages), Gulf Place and Shunk Gulley OR The Pointe, Rosemary Towne Hall, Amavida, the Pearl OR Bud & Alley's, Pizza Bar, Seaside Meeting Hall and do not miss Whiskey Bravo and Old Florida Fish House for classic 30A ambiance and music as you transition from one end of 30A to the other. 

Research venues with great food and plan around them for a full dinner - don't forget to eat! (Vue dining room, Shunk Gulley, Trebeache, The Craft Bar, AJ's, Bud & Alley's, the Bay, Whiskey Bravo, the Pearl).

While Caliza, the Lake House, the Boat House, Hibiscus, Gulf Place and The Hub are all premier listening rooms, they all have special 30ASWF menues that are quick,  convenient and downright gourmet. 

Sunsets in January over the Gulf of Mexico are amazing  - walk down to the beach! BUT know also that the views of 30A from the rooftop at The Pointe, everywhere at the Vue, Bud & Alley's, the rooftop at Whiskey Bravo, second floor of Shunk Gulley and of course the Bay on 331 are priceless.

We all love custom Taylor flat tops and vintage Gibson J-45s and we will see and hear many all weekend. To satisfy your rock'n'roll soul, sign up for the Grayton Beer Taproom jam with the Luther Dickinson and Aaron Lee Tasjan Bands  - it will be wild -  and there will be free craft beer courtesy of our generous exclusive beer sponsor (Saturday 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM).

And save your last bit of energy for the Purple Rain Jam at AJ's Sunday night at 11:00 PM. (until they cut off the power) hosted by Cooper Carter. Special guests abound.

The most important advice I can give anyone is DO NOT WAIT IN LINES anywhere. If you get to a particularly popular spot and the Festival representative say the wait is long, pull out your schedule and pivot to another show. Reps can help with suggestions. There are over 25 performances venues in full swing every hour all night each night and all have incredible music.


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