‘Art of the song’: 30A Songwriters Festival brings star power to South Walton Jan. 18-20

Tracy Louthain

A song has the power to ignite special memories. South Walton will celebrate the stories behind the songs during the 30A Songwriters Festival, Jan. 18-20. More than 125 songwriters will unite for 200 performances along Scenic Highway 30A, creating a musical extravaganza like no other.

"The 30A Songwriters Festival has quickly gained a reputation among musicians as a forum for true songwriters to perform their self-penned songs as well as established performers to showcase their original compositions," said Russell Carter, 30A Songwriters Festival chair and producer and owner of Russell Carter Artist Management. "We book artists with diverse musical styles. Our emphasis is the art of the song.”

Confirmed artists include Lucinda Williams, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Jeffrey Steele, Nanci Griffith, Suzanne Vega, Fastball, Tift Merritt, Allison Moorer, Charlie Mars, Eliza Gilkyson, Freedy Johnston, Randall Bramblett, The Shadowboxers, Joe Leathers, Gretchen Peters, Brigitte DeMeyer, Tommy Womack, Vicki Peterson, Chas Sandford, Shannon Whitworth, Daphne Willis, and Geoff McBride, among many others.

"We are honored to feature talented artists from around the country who are generously supporting the CAA and our mission to grow the arts in Walton County and make it a destination for cultural and artistic excellence," said Jennifer Steele, festival producer and executive director of the Cultural Arts Alliance of Walton County (CAA). "South Walton celebrates a thriving arts community, and we are proud to showcase our local talent alongside nationally-acclaimed songwriters and up-and-coming artists to raise funds and awareness for arts education initiatives that benefit the children of Walton County."

There will be a special pre-performance for CAA members on Wednesday, Jan. 16, featuring Emily Saliers of the Indigo Girls and Mary Chapin Carpenter. CAA membership is open to anyone and those that join the CAA will enjoy access to the exclusive pre-festival event. On that Wednesday, the ticket office opens at WaterColor Inn & Resort, the festival headquarters. Performances begin on Friday, and on Saturday, Mary Chapin Carpenter and Suzanne Vega will perform a special outdoor concert. On Sunday, Lucinda Williams and Nanci Griffith will illuminate South Walton with a heartfelt outdoor show.

Performance venues for the fourth annual event include past favorites as well as new spots along Highway 30A. From Vue, Fire and Gulf Place Amphitheater in Santa Rosa Beach to Amavida, Town Hall and Summer Kitchen in Rosemary Beach, performances will take place throughout South Walton's beach neighborhoods.

New venues include 723 Whiskey Bravo in Seagrove and Bentley’s in Seacrest.

The Festival is produced by the Cultural Arts Alliance of Walton County and is presented by Visit South Walton. Festival weekend passes are now available for $150 and can be purchased online, at the CAA office in the Bayou Arts Center and at Central Square Records in Seaside. Net proceeds from the 30A Songwriters

Festival benefit the CAA and members of the CAA will receive 10 percent off weekend passes.

Members must call 850-622-5970 to make sure their membership is current and to reserve their seat for the member performance (no walk-ups). For more information, including current list of participating artists, venues and to purchase tickets, visit