The Frank Brown International Songwriters Festival celebrates its 30th birthday in style, presenting a memorable lineup of Grammy-winning performers and up-and-coming hit-makers Nov. 6-16 at venues in Perdido Key, Pensacola and along the Gulf Coast.
The festival includes a tribute at 6:30 p.m. on Nov. 7 to the late Larry Butler of Pensacola, whom I loved and worked with from 2007-08 on NewsRadio 1620. Larry wrote songs and produced music for Johnny Cash, Kenny Rogers, Waylon Jennings and many others. He was a master storyteller and I loved to get him talking about Johnny Cash. There were times I got to the studio early so I could go on the air during his show and convince him to talk about his days in Nashville. A very kind man with a huge heart.
The Frank Brown International Songwriters Festival is a perennial favorite for music-lovers eager to hear songwriters not only perform but also discuss how and why they wrote some of the world’s greatest hits. The music covers the gamut, with hits written for everyone from George Jones to George Strait, Jimmy Buffet, Tim McGraw and Jason Aldean.
The festival is based at the sprawling Flora-Bama Lounge astride the Florida-Alabama line, but numerous venues will be used as more than 200 songwriters perform in nightspots that range from quiet listening rooms to reverberating honkytonks. Both Billboard and American Songwriters magazines have recognized the granddaddy of songwriter festivals, and it’s been called one of the Top 20 Events by the Southeast Tourism Society.
The performers include such noted songwriters as Jim McBride, whose songs have been hits for Alan Jackson, Conway Twitty and Tammy Cochran; Austin Church, whose songs have been recorded by Jimmy Buffett and Lyle Lovett; and Scotty Emerick, who writes for and performs with Toby Keith, on such hits as “Get Drunk and Be Somebody,” “A Little Too Late,” and “I Love this Bar.”
The writers cover several eras of country music. Dean Dillon, who has written 50 songs performed by the legendary George Strait, is a member of the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. Jamey Johnson, who writes for himself and others, has won Country Music Association Awards as well as performed with Kid Rock and Willie Nelson.
Another featured artist will be singer Johnny Lee, whose “Lookin For Love” in the movie “Urban Cowboy” became a country classic. Lee, who has been touring in Texas much of this year, also has scored country hits with “Hey Bartender,” “Rollin’ Lonely” and more.
Most shows are free; a few venues charge a modest cover fee.
The festival is named after the late Frank Brown, who was night watchman at the Flora-Bama for 28 years before retiring at age 91.
For more information on performers and schedules, visit www.fbisf.com.