Yes you blew it if you missed 30aSongwriters Festival in January. Fear not you will have another opportunity and months to plan. Mimi’s Tips to Navigate 30a Songwriters Festival 2020 will help lead the way.
In the first place, 2019 30a Songwriters Festival included 200 artists playing at 30 venues over 4 days scattered from Grand Boulevard Destin to venues in Rosemary Beach. Each venue offering a different setting, seating or food and beverage options to host talented singer songwriters. Festival stretched out in venues ranging from town halls to bars, patios, shops, restaurants and amphitheater.
30a Songwriters Festival is an adventure
After all until you attend it is hard to appreciate how great this festival truly is for introducing new artists or allowing you to see an old favorite in a completely unique setting. Cultural Arts Alliance and Russell Carter Artist Management have spent a decade creating a gem of a festival. Certainly Grill Man and I are hooked.
Equally important pay attention because tickets sold out before the event even started. The first year you attend event it is tough trying to narrow down how to choose from the huge array of artists, time slots and venue locations. Yet I admit that I was unfamiliar with most of the artists names until I read their bios. In some cases, I didn’t have a musical note to attach to the songwriter.
A few artists I could not wait to hear
A couple of years ago, Funny Girl introduced me to Marc Broussard. Marc became part of my kitchen play list. Ever since I had been following his tour schedule but when he was here I was there. Marc Broussard became the number one musician that I wanted to see and hear at the festival. Clearly I was not alone, our group loaded up and went early to one of the venues to ensure a seat hours before Mark would play.
After securing a spot to settle into, I decided to wander around the venue space to sort out lighting options. Nightclubs with a no flash policy offer challenges for taking good photos. While wandering I noticed a guy sporting style like he walked off the runway or popped off the Matrix film set. I needed to take his photo. Could I? Should I? I decided the best approach was a direct one, the worse that he could say was no.
My boldness was rewarded and David Jones is the nicest total stranger that I have ever singled out for a photo. David is as kind as he is handsome. I thoroughly enjoyed our conversation about music, food, Louisiana and discovered he too is a musician. David Jones will be added to my list of musicians to watch. Eventually I returned to my seat to share what I had uncovered and listen to music. Guess who he is traveling with? What? Who?
Much later at some point before the show, I noticed David Jones and one of his mates Marc Broussard sitting at the bar. Since we are all from Louisiana I thought that it was appropriate to welcome them. Funny Girl is from his neck of the woods and were family. So it’s highly possible in a remote kind of way that we’re related to someone we know in LA. That makes us all family, right?
Marc and David are both easy to talk with, its easy to see the Louisiana in their soul. A love of life, family, music and food topped our conversations. Marc is clearly in love with his family and it comes out in his music. Grill Man and I will look forward to his tour schedule coming close to our home.
Live artists deliver passion in person
Musicians are a generous group traveling all over the country singing, caressing notes from a guitar, playing loud, banging on drums and tambourines. In their hearts they have created a story wrapped around a melody. At the end of the day, they want you to get the message, dig the song, tap your feet and maybe shake your booty. And if you will be so kind to buy, play and share the music.
Central Square Records will certainly assist with your music orders. Laid back record store converted into a listening room for festival. Vinyl albums line the walls along with t-shirts designed from album covers. Central Square Records has a groovey music vibe in addition to all the gift ideas.
Our friend Dr Music runs the sound for musicians at Central Square Records and magically assists. Dr Music knows his tunes maybe even more than Grill Man and always has a great music recommendation. Spend a few minutes and discover Dr Music’s Sonic Suitcase and vinyl store in Fairhope.
Truly I could ramble on for days about this festival. Dining With Mimi is not a paid sponsor of this festival or any of the venues. Just happy to share my experience with you. Bottom line is show up or miss out. I hope that Mimi’s Tips to Navigate 30aSongwriters Festival 2020 will provide a bit of insight to make the most of your time.
Mimi’s Tips to Navigate 30aSongwriters Festival 2020
1.0 Block off dates in your calendar January 17- 20, 2020. Event is held during MLK Jr. weekend.
2.0 Schedule your trip to soak up the local flavors. If you can swing it, add a couple of days on the front or end of the trip. As a minimum you will need to arrive the day before the festival starts so that you may hit the ground early and not miss anything.
3.0 Review the web site for festival details of musicians. Artist lineup provides photo and bio detailing things you may not know. By reviewing artists throughout the year you will be in a better position to make your schedule once they announce 2020 artist locations and times. There is no guarantee that each artist will return but past line up is a good place to start review until 2020 lineup is posted.
4.0 Use your favorite technology to learn about the artists. Whether its a shout out to Alexa, you tube or spotify, listen to each one. My go to spot for listening is while I am cooking in the kitchen. Upon completion of this you will know who to add to the top of your list, listened to good music and broadened your music knowledge. If one artist does not appeal to you, go to the next one.
5.0 Directly before festival starts, a hard schedule will be posted. Review list, select main acts that you want to see and then design a venue schedule around the time slots. If your favorite act starts at 4, you may want to head over to venue at 2 or earlier and grab a seat or get in line. Introduce yourself to your fellow music lover and enjoy. Sign up for festival app from the official web site. Even today I am still using it as a tool to review artists.
6.0 Next year, I want to focus more on artists that I have never seen perform. I loved all of my favs but fell for a couple of new artists. Be open minded about listening to new artists, all of the singer songwriters at this festival are talented.
7.0 Review venue locations then choose where you would like to stay during festival and book an accommodation. Rental is a great place to leave your car. A small city along 30a is a great spot whether its Seaside, Watercolor, Grayton Beach, Seagrove or Rosemary Beach. Parking is a premium and this makes a great case to walk, bike, taxi or uber.
8.0 A rental will allow you to make breakfast and coffee. Trust me you will coffee to keep up the pace. Certainly a refrigerator comes in handy keeping your champagne, wine or beer icy cold. Our group took turns cooking breakfast before we headed out everyday. Other meals were shared in restaurants while listening to the artist. Remember to bring water to stay hydrated. Rentals never have enough toilet paper, paper towels, coffee and coffee filters. Although, a store will be close by you will be too busy enjoying music to shop.
9.0 Festival offers a variety of venues with seating for 50 or 5000. If you get tired of large crowds seek out the smaller venues. Small venues offer a more intimate experience and allow you to be closer to the artist for viewing or listening pleasure. By choosing a mixture of venues it will help balance your festival experience.
10.0 Cities that surround the festival offer many choices to enjoy natures beauty. Plan a early morning walk or bike ride to squeeze in your exercise before the music starts. Only a few places in the world feature a dune lake New Zealand, Australia, Madagascar and along Florida’s 30a. For example, check out Seasides Western Coastal Dune Lake.
11.0 Weather this time of year may change quickly from sunny and 70 to wet and cold. Plan to pack clothes that layer well and don’t forget rain jacket and wellies just in case.
12.0 Load up outdoor chairs, sunscreen and hats if you attend any events on Grand Boulevard you will need it. Coolers will not be allowed into this location. Food, wine and beer is sold at this venue.
13.0 Select the artists that you want to see and don’t be afraid to split up and meet back at other locations. Our group walked to venues, rode bikes and ubered as necessary.
14.0 For the last two years The Sundogs hosted a Tom Petty Tribute at AJ’s Grayton Beach. We were lucky to catch it this year although it started at 11pm. After a full day of music it was a late night but so worth the effort. Surprise guests joined them on stage to rock it out. If you want to see this next year, go very early to grab a table. The joint will be packed & very lively, bless their hearts.
15.0 Remember this event is set up as a listening room. Once the artist starts be respectful and listen. Artists and fellow music lovers will appreciate it. Clearly Grill Man and I enjoy music. It only seemed appropriate to share Mimi’s Tips to Navigate 30aSongwriters Festival 2020. Being front and center and hearing songwriters talk about inspiration for a song is special.
Here are a few of the artists that our group managed to squeeze in during our festival.
If they are touring in your area, go see them live
Raelyn Nelson Band
The Tall Pines
Marc Harris & Jab Wilson
Swimming Pool Q's
Aaron Lee Tasjan
The War and Treaty
Cartoon Jazz Band
Old Salt Union
As a music lover if all of this wasn’t reason enough for you to check out this festival, all proceeds benefit the Cultural Arts Alliance of Walton County a private non-profit 501 (c)3. Weekend away and tickets make a great gift experience to any music lover and fun way to celebrate.
Put this on the top of your gift list for any music lover 21 or older. Great family outing to plan with your adult children. Music is a good way to find common ground and it’s possible that you will learn something about each other. Event easily allows for you to spend some time together and split up as needed.
In summary, I hope that I have offered information with Mimi’s Tips to Navigate 30aSongwriters Festival 2020 to improve your experience. If you have questions, please comment and I will answer as soon as possible.