It’s the Monday morning after the 30A Songwriters Festival and I am of sound body and mind.
Well, the body does ache a bit, but as a four year attendee of “Hooks, Lines and Singers” the mind is ever inspired. Every year I do my homework and plan my route. Always difficult to choose between a favorite dish from last year and the fresh catches we reel in each new season!
This year I caught my limit — 27 shows in 13 venues and over 33 artists in 3 days.
Here are tales of some “keepers” from my weekend.
Shannon Whitworth [Fish Out Of Water] — Sultry, non-naive damsel shifts to a tad aloof bad girl and I love it. I let her know that I liked the new version of “Don’t Lie.” And I let Barrett Smith know that I have a huge crush on him and quickly assured him “don’t worry I’m married.” Her show was radiantly effective due to the band’s choice of morning refreshments — a swim in the Gulf of Mexico.
Suzanne Vega [Gulf Place] — “Cool and smooth and curious. I never blinked.” A fan since 1985, once during a critique in an undergraduate painting class, I questioned a fellow student on the source of a quote used in one of his paintings “small blue thing...” I finally got him to admit his appropriation, informing him that I knew all the lyrics from Vega’s [LP] Solitude Standing! von Grey blew me away! Four sisters ranging in age from 12 to 18 and ranging in instrumental choices as well, these gals switch off guitar, violin, banjo, keyboard, lap steel guitar, cello, mandolin and Moog bass pedal. The proud father tapped me on the shoulder during the show to hand me the band’s promo postcard. I hugged his neck [any father of four daughters deserves that] and then bought their CD from his satchel.
Amy Lavine [Caliza] — A self-described reformed “metalhead” now rocks the cello. She insisted that we [her audience] pick up our chairs and settle in up front, calling the prearranged east/west seating “unacceptable.” We obliged and were wooed as “Often Happens” by another “Damn Love Song.”
The Quaildogs [Pandora’s Main Room] — They unleashed the bluegrass, wagging the house into a romp. Graham Terban crafted his own electric fiddle and strokes the man’s best friend with vigor. Throw these guys a bone and feel the unconditional love!
Homesick Elephant [Hibiscus] — They charmed me last year with their harmonies and after spending the year with The Pen and the Pilgrim [CD], I wanted more. This quirky husband and wife duo wrote wedding vows as lyrics which they sang at their own ceremony. After a brunch show in the “Backyard of Love,” I was compelled to hug Kevin and Sara for a warm and fuzzy start to my day.
Humming House [Main Stage] — The band converted Pandoras into a veritable dancing house. No denying that their blend of Americana whimsy with a twist of Irish flair will get the room spinning.
I could go on... I'd rather like to extend my sincere gratitude to the Cultural Arts Alliance for undertaking this prize pursuit bringing to us outstanding live music by many quality artists!
And kudos to producers Jennifer Steele, CAA executive director, and Russell Carter, festival chair, for excelling at the daunting task of matching acts with complimentary venues and time slots. As a 19-year member of the CAA, I was extremely impressed and proud of our volunteers and encouraged by the numerous young recruits.
And here’s one last shout-out to our local artists for dressing our venues with brilliant visual accoutrements enhancing our audio experience. A Justin Lyons painting which hung at Fish Out of Water inspired the title of this article. Congratulations for the execution of a collective job well done.
Now that I’ve chummed up the water, maybe I can hook a press pass for next year?
Emily Ellis, MFA, lives in Inlet Beach. She is a painter, photographer, naturalist, music lover and prose attempter. She offers studio visits by appointment and can be reached at 850-625-4140 or email@example.com. To see 30A Songwriter Festival photos by Emily: http://www.facebook.com/daisy.hipbilly