CONCERT REVIEW: Songs, Sun and Scooters; Key West Songwriters Festival

The 19th annual Key West Songwriters Festival hosted by BMI closed out Sunday. Kacey Musgraves brought the festival to an end with a beautiful gold and pink sunset as a backdrop. The 5 day festival featured 180 songwriters telling the story behind the song. The line up featured award winning artists such as Sara Evans, Love and Theft, Robert Earl Keen, Kree Harrison and James Slater to name just a few.

The talk of the festival was as much about Key West as the songwriters themselves. The locals were incredibly welcoming and some of the most colorful people I had ever met. There was “Dink” who got his nickname from Ernest Hemingway himself. Charlie Bauer, who initiated the festival 19 years ago and continues to this day. There was a lady who’s personal life story was stolen and played by Goldie Hawn in a movie decades ago. Mayor Cates could be found at any given time singing along to the music. There was a lady who trains monkeys for a living. The island is home to Judy Blume, Dale Earnhardt Jr, Kenny Chesney, Calvin Klein and many more. Everyone has a story.

Key West has an uber laid back vibe, filled with creative types. It gave the writers a chance to vacation in paradise complete with boat rentals, scooters, lots of drinks and time to hang out with friends. The songwriting rounds were held at various watering holes up and down the famed Duval Street, waterfront resorts and beach ball throwing pool parties.

Throughout the week songwriters shared the deepest part of their soul. There were some heartfelt moments that silenced the room. There was a lot of humor. Most of all there was tremendous respect and admiration for fellow songwriters.



Pete Abbot, Rhett Akins, Arlis Albritton, Jessi Alexander, Dylan Altman, Marshall Altman, Al Anderson, Kelly Archer, Misa Arriaga, Sammy Arriaga, Sherrie Austin, Matt Backer, Cary Barlowe, Greg Barnhill, Phil Barton, Ty Bates, Matraca Berg, Jabe Beyer, Brinn Black, Steve Bogard, Shawn Camp, Jessica Campbell, Volney Campbell, Chuck Cannon, DJ Du, Tommy Cecil, Wiley Chandler, Gary Chapman, Jeff Clark, Jeff Cohen, Phillip Coleman, Ruth Collins, Jessi Colter, , Kristy Lee Cook, Adam Craig, Rob Crosby, Colby Dee, Dean Dillon, Josh Dorr, Mason Douglas, Erik Dylan, Brooke Eden, Sara Evans, Rick Ferrell, Amanda Flynn, Marti Frederiksen, John Frinzi, Ashley Gearing, Lacy Green, Sam Hanna, Michael Hardy, Jeff Harris, Kree Harrison, Rob Hatch, Sara Haze, Natalie Hemby, Kat Higgins, Elisha Hoffman, Rebecca Lynn Howard, Courtney Jaye, Bryson Jennings, Doug Johnson, Kimberly June, Robert Earl Keen, Kristen Kelly, Jennifer Kennard, Scott Kirby, Shannon Labrie, Colin Lake, Erica Sunshine Lee, Jesse Lee, Lindsey Lee, Marjory Lee, Sonia Leigh, Rusty Lemmon, Toby Lightman, Megan Linville, Howard Livingston, Misty Loggins, Cheryl LuQuire, Phil Madeira, Josh Matheny, Erin McCarley, Billy McClaran, Jon McElroy, Pat McLaughlin, Suzie McNeil, Phoenix Mendoza, Mike Mentz, Lance Miller, Jake Mitchell, Wendell Mobley, Heather Morgan, Liz Moriondo, Maren Morris, Greg Morrow, Kacey Musgraves, Danny Myrick, Chancie Neal, Kallie North, Danielle Peck, Shane Piasecki, Patrice Pike, Danika Portz, Jacob Powell, Hugh Prestwood, Will Rambeaux, Jon Randall, Michael Ray, Tyler Reeve, Michael Rhodes, Jesse Rice, Sophie Rose, Ben Rue, Kylie Sackley, Emily Shackelton, Nikki Shannon, Lucie Silvas, James Slater, Hailey Steele, Even Stevens, Jody Stevens, Adley Stump, Bridgette Tatum, Michael Tolcher, Guthrie Trapp, Brett Tyler, Briana Tyson, Bruce Wallace, Chad Warrix, Taylor Watson, Brian White, Jason White, Tony Joe White, JP Williams, Channing Wilson, Jessy Wilson, Billy Yates, Kate York, Anders Osborne Band, American Young, Blackwater Bride, Callaghan, Granville Automatic, Haley & Michaels, John & Jacob, Kingston, Little Feather, Love and Theft, Loving Mary, Massacoustics, Walker-McGuire, World Famous Headliners, Sundy Best

In the words of singer/songwriter Howard Livingston, “Sell your stuff. Keep the dog. Live on an Island”. If this isn’t possible for you, be sure to join us next year for the 20th anniversary celebration held May 6-10. Small intimate venues, mostly free shows and welcoming locals make this festival a must see. Its simply magical.

Song credit: Eric PaslayCountry Side of Heaven

Kim Hooker

Country music has played a role in every chapter of my life. I find myself loving traditional sound but connecting to the lyrics and music of today. I have a deep appreciation for the songwriting community and am passionate about making sure their story gets told as well. Florida based but travel often, mostly to cover music events. Social Media Correspondent/addict, coffee lover and wino. Looking forward to taking this journey with you….

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