Originally published in the February 15, 2016 issue of Country Weekly magazine.
The seventh annual 30A Songwriters Festival gives fans an up-close-and-personal experience with some of music’s most talented singer/songwriters.
Highway 30A stretches for 28.5 miles through the Florida Panhandle, hugging the Gulf of Mexico as it intersects picturesque beach communities like Sandestin, WaterColor, Seaside and Rosemary Beach. In January, the sugary white beaches and 60-plus-degree weather of 30A make it an ideal respite from the harsh winter temperatures in the majority of the country. And for three days, more than 170 singer/songwriters get added to the not-so-wintry mix during the 30A Songwriters Festival.
For the seventh year, music lovers packed more than 20 venues along the scenic highway from January 15–17 for intimate solo sessions, writers’ rounds and outdoor concerts on the Grand Boulevard. And wouldn’t you know it, some of the most talented singer/songwriters from country, folk, roots and Americana were on hand, including Jackson Browne, Jim Lauderdale, Kristian Bush, Deana Carter, Hayes Carll, Chuck Wicks, Grace Potter, J.D. Souther, Gretchen Peters and many, many more.
If the rowdy spring-break experience isn’t your cup of beer anymore, graduate to 30A next year for friendly songwriters’ sessions, artist Q&As, respectful listening rooms and outdoor shows where a picnic blanket and a nice bottle of wine are the norm. It’s worth every penny.
photos by Jim Casey