SoWal Insider's Guide to 30A Songwriters Festival 2023
January 9, 2023 by SoWal Staff
The 30A Songwriters Festival returns to South Walton January 13-16, 2023, with a wide variety of talented artists on the schedule.
30A Songwriters Festival Schedule will be published the week prior to the Festival and will include more than 175 songwriters and 300 shows in a single holiday weekend. The 2023 lineup features an eclectic, powerhouse group of headliners from Lyle Lovett, Gin Blossoms, and Rickie Lee Jones to Morgan Wade, Yola, and Steve Earle. Ticketholders have access to these mainstage shows + over 250 other sets throughout the weekend featuring Benmont Tench (Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers), Amy Grant, Tom Rush, Glenn Phillips (Toad the Wet Sprocket), Adia Victoria, Brian Vander Ark (The Verve Pipe), The Black Opry Revue, Beth Nielsen Chapman, John Craigie, Shawn Mullins, Kathleen Edwards, John Paul White, James McMurtry, Darrell Scott, Tinsley Ellis, Chuck Prophet, Livingston Taylor, Lilly Hiatt, John Fullbright, and many, many more!
Schedule by artist - pdf link
Schedule by venue - pdf link
Get the 30A Songwriters Festival App with up to date schedules and more information - NOTE - delete any previous year's apps and install the new one:
Android Google Play >
Apple IOS Iphone >
Lyle Lovett has broadened the definition of American music in a career that spans 14 albums since his self-titled debut in 1986. A singer, composer, and actor, the four-time Grammy award-winning musician fuses elements of country, swing, jazz, folk, gospel and blues in a convention-defying manner that breaks down barriers. This January, Lovett will take to the mainstage at Grand Boulevard to perform a career-spanning set ranging from early hits like “If I Had a Boat” and “Cowboy Man” to selections from 2022’s 12th of June.
Benmont Tench is a founding member of Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers. He’s recorded and performed with Bob Dylan, Johnny Cash, and just about every artist in between. The festival is shipping in a Steinway grand piano for his evening solo sets. This is your chance to see songwriting royalty in an intimate setting.
Gin Blossoms’ fusion of melodic rock, folk, and country elements helped pave the way for the modern rock of today. Their five-time platinum breakthrough New Miserable Experience contained instant classics like “Hey Jealousy,” “Found Out About You,” and “Allison Road” and established them as one of the great songwriting bands of their generation. Renowned live performers, playing over 100 tour dates a year, Gin Blossoms will treat the 30A audience to a string of singalong hits like “Til I Hear It From You,” “Follow You Down,” and “As Long As It Matters,” as well as cuts from their latest release Mixed Reality.
Rickie Lee Jones charmed two sold-out evening audiences at last year's festival and she's returning this year to perform on the headline stage with an additional special evening performance. Her acclaimed memoir Last Chance Texaco released in 2021 is “as rich and colorful as Jones’s best lyrics,” writes The New York Times. The two-time Grammy winner, known for her haunting voice that ranges from deep yearning to late-night sultry, first appeared on the Los Angeles scene in the mid-1970s penning instant classics like “Chuck E.'s In Love,” “Danny’s All-Star Joint,” and the pivotal breakup album Pirates.
Morgan Wade is taking the world by storm with her acclaimed debut album Reckless (Produced by Jason Isbell + the 400 Unit guitarist Sadler Vaden and Paul Ebersold), hit singles "Wilder Days" and "Run," and a sold out cross-country tour. But Wade didn’t start writing to be a sensation, for critical acclaim, or massive concert tours. She wrote to speak her truth, to save her own life – and perhaps throw a rope to others who are struggling. Wade has a voice The FADER lauds is “like a jagged blade, sharp enough to draw blood but lustrous under the light” while The New York Times declares “she sounds like she’s singing from the depths of history.” Wade's 30A debut is your chance to see a major star on the rise.
Steve Earle needs little introduction. One of America’s most gifted living songwriters, the three-time Grammy winner has released twenty-two albums and amassed one of the most beloved songwriting catalogs of all time during his four-decade career. Multi-platinum successes “Copperhead Road” and “Guitar Town” are just the tip of the iceberg. Earle’s songs have been recorded by such music legends as Johnny Cash, Emmylou Harris, Carl Perkins, Waylon Jennings, Vince Gill and Joan Baez. Throughout his career, Earle has also become a novelist, a film, TV and stage actor, a playwright, a short story author, a record producer and a radio host. His latest release, Jerry Jeff pays tribute to legendary outlaw singer-songwriter Jerry Jeff Walker.
Yola achieved breakout success with her critically acclaimed debut album Walk Through Fire in 2019. Hailed as a Black British genre fluid rising star, she landed four Grammy nominations including Best New Artist for her unique blend of Americana and classic R&B and established herself as one of the best live performers on the scene. Her anthemic new album Stand for Myself is a sonic mix of symphonic soul and classic pop tracing a musical thread to Yola’s most eclectic musical inspirations. Yola made her acting debut as Sister Rosetta Tharpe in Baz Luhrmann’s 2022 biopic Elvis.
New To The 30a Songwriters Festival for the first time: Amy Grant, Tom Rush, Black Oprey Revue, Brian Vander Ark (The Verve Pipe), John Craigie, And Beth Nielsen Chapman. Returning to perform two shows each throughout the weekend are songwriting legends Kathleen Edwards, Shawn Mullins, Adia Victoria, Daryl Scott, Livingston Taylor, John Fullbright, Sarah Lee Guthrie, James Mcmurtry, Lilly Hiatt, Tinsley Ellis.
SoWal Insider Tip: most festival tickets sell out early. If the tickets you want are not available at www.freshtix.com/events/2023-30asongwritersfestival, try tickets for resale on the SoWal Forum >
30A Songwriters Festival features the VIP ticket packages: reserved parking, premium seating at the headline stage, complimentary food and drinks (Grayton Beer, wine, and craft cocktails), along with first-come, first-served seating at the other 29 venues.
The Venues - stellar stages and intimate rooms - a sample:
Caliza Restaurant, AJ's in Grayton Beach, Bud and Alley's Waterfront Restaurant, FOOW - Fish Out of Water, Red Fish Taco, The Bay, North Beach Social, Hibiscus Coffee & Guesthouse, LaCo, Old Florida Fish House, Hilton Sandestin, The Pearl Hotel, Grand Boulevard and more - see full list >
Along Scenic 30A from West to East:
Redfish Taco - Grand tent opening up to the back patio outside the popular Blue Mountain restaurant. Great spot for dinner and your first stop of the evening.
Hibiscus - Backyard of Love at the endearing Grayton Beach B&B. Mimosas and love songs in the air.
AJ's Grayton Beach - for rock, blues and Americana music and The Purple Rain Party on Sunday night. Acoustic secondary stage.
Beach Camp Brewpub - Newly renovated pub in Grayton on 30A with night time and Saturday/Sunday brunch music scheduled
Fish Out Of Water (FOOW) - Premier restaurant and bar built into the dunes at WaterColor Inn. Upscale dining and drinks and high profile evening performances.
30A Beach Happy Cafe - Watercolor coffee house set up as a music bistro. Indie, Folk, and Singer-songwriter haven!
The Boathouse at WaterColor - Storage for canoes and paddle boards by day, microphones, powered speakers, guitars, keyboards and singer-songwriters at night.
The Lakehouse at WaterColor - Home to the always popular ASCAP showcases on Western Lake in WaterColor
Bud & Alley's - Premier landmark restaurant on the Gulf at the center of Seaside
The Rep Theatre - Popular black box theater with great line of sight and perfect acoustics
Central Square Records- One of the premier vinyl record stores in the southeast with morning and late afternoon/early evening instore performances by 30A Artists with vinyl record releases
Corcoran-Reverie - Seagrove area showcase venue
Old Florida Fish House - 2 stages - Popular venue for a variety of musical styles including bands and singer songwriters on the main stage and porch stage.
The Big Chill (formerly the Hub) - Singer songwriters and bands every night as well as lunch time jazz on Saturday and Sunday.
Raw & Juicy - On 30A in the center of Alys Beach. Music on Friday and Saturday evenings and Sunday mornings. Breakfast all-day, lunch, handcrafted cocktails and full bar.
Caliza - Elegant poolside bar setting in Alys Beach
La Co - Mexican cuisine and jazz club vibe in Seacrest
Rosemary Beach Town Hall - Traditional Town Hall with church like architecture and acoustics
Havana Beach Bar & Grill at The Pearl - Cuban themed retro bar with a grand piano
In Miramar Beach and Sandestin on 98:
Grand Boulevard's Town Center - Lyle Lovett, Rickie Lee Jones, Steve Earle Saturday afternoon. Yola, Morgan Wade and Gin Blossoms Sunday afternoon.
Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort & Spa - Beach stage Friday at sunset. Indoors Saturday night.
Hyatt Place Bar - Spacious hotel lobby, walking distance from the headline main stage at Grand Boulevard. Performances will be before and after the main stage artists.
Hotel Effie Lobby Bar - Classy lobby, high ceilings, chandeliers - we felt compelled to build out a music venue between the classy bars - Sandestin
In Santa Rosa Beach along Hwy 331 and Hwy 98:
North Beach Social (also "Late Check-out Party" venue) - Three separate restaurants and a great performance stage overlooking the Bay at Choctawhatchee Bridge. Late check-out party venue on Monday, January 16th.
The Bay - Sushi and seafood at the Bay Bridge across from North Beach Social. Music all weekend including Monday, January 16th for the Late Check-out Party.
Grayton Beer Company Taproom - VIP Bookings and free craft beer on Friday Night
The Pavilion at Watersound Town Center - Outdoor venue with a permanent roof in a new residential commercial setting, Saturday morning music performances
Some venues are intimate and quiet and you should keep talking to a minimum. Some venues get pretty loud - especially late night. 30A Songwriters Festival offers serious music lovers the chance to hear their all-time favorite artists and experience new artists for the first time in intimate settings alongside like-minded fans. For the past 13 years, the festival has attracted tens of thousands of dedicated live music fans from around the country. The festival transforms amphitheaters, town halls, restaurants, theaters, bars and covered patios into unique listening rooms ranging in capacity from 75 to 500 seats indoors to 6,000 outdoors.
Plan to stay through Monday for “The Late Check-out Party” that takes place at The Bay and North Beach Social, two venues that sit right on the beautiful Choctawhatchee Bay. Bloody Marys, delicious food, and songwriter performances throughout the day on the waterfront is a perfect way to keep the party going.
Download The 30A Songwriters Festival App
The official festival app can be downloaded for Android or for iPhone. The festival app has the schedule which will be updated with any changes as well as directions to venues, bios and photos of all performing artists, etc. A favorite function of the app is that you can pull up any hour of the day or evening, scroll through, and see who is performing at all of the venues in real-time.
The Festival is, as always, a benefit for the non profit Cultural Arts Alliance of Walton County, which supports artists and non profit cultural events and businesses throughout the county. 100% of the net proceeds from the event are paid to the CAA to help fund its annual budget. Thank you all for your continued support!
- Click here for 30A Songwriter's Festival Photos to share on your facebook, website, email, etc.
The Setting - Florida's amazing Scenic Highway 30A with our string of postcard-perfect towns & communities.
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 www.culturalartsalliance.com 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 Ocean Reef Vacation Rentals, WaterColor Inn & Resort, The Pearl Hotel, Hyatt Place Sandestin at Grand Boulevard, Residence Inn at Grand Boulevard, Courtyard Sandestin at Grand Boulevard - for many more options check out SoWal.com 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 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.
TIP: 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 venues have room for more customers. Take the advice of house managers and pivot to nearby venues that are not crowded. There are so many artists and so many shows and you can't walk into a venue and see anything other than amazing music. Become a new fan of artists that you were unfamiliar with. The 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.
See 30A Songwriters Festival Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) >
Ten Unique Aspects of 30A Songwriters Festival:
Unique Aspect #1: All Festival artists write their own music AND perform it. They earn their double S title and status: Singer Songwriter.
Unique Aspect #2: You will miss more shows than you see at 30A SWF January 13-16 BUT you will see more performances over the four day holiday weekend than you have ever seen before in one weekend.
Unique Aspect #3 - 30A is 24 miles of two lane highway hugging the white dunes of the beach and in full view of the blue/green water of the Gulf of Mexico. There are 30 custom built music venues along this Emerald Coast paradise. Travel the world and you will find nothing like it.
Unique Aspect #4 - Many of your favorite artists perform each year at 30 SWF. However, many artists are booked that you have not had a chance to see. Make a point to catch performances by artists whose music you have never heard. You will walk away a new fan of many great musicians.
Unique Aspect #5 - We like and we book Americana, blues, country, rock, jazz, neo soul and folk. We are not genre specific like most festivals - we book the best singer songwriters.
Unique Aspect #6 - 30A Songwriters Festival is not a commercial venture - it is a fundraiser for the non profit Cultural Arts Alliance of Walton County. 100% of net proceeds from the Festival go into the annual budget for the CAA to help fund their many civic art programs. Thank you for being not only a music fan but also an art patron!
Unique Aspect #7 - There are several great coffee cafes on 30A. Start your morning with a walk on the beach. There are even more bars on 30A. At least once grab a cocktail, stop what you are doing and watch the sun sets in the Gulf of Mexico.
Unique Aspect #8 - With over 200 musicians attending the Festival and nearly 300 performances scheduled including night time events , morning brunches, and afternoon headline shows, 30A Songwriters has the biggest musical offerings of any weekend songwriters festival in the country.
Unique Aspect #9 - 30A SWF is the only Festival that I know of that partners with resort communities with arguably the best vacation homes in the South.
Unique Aspect #10 - Tell us what you enjoy most about your past 30A Songwriters Festival experiences.
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