It’s the time of the year when Perdido Key and its surrounding area become Nashville South. When the men and women who write the songs you listen to, sing to and cry to on your country radio station come to town to share their musical gems.
It’s the 33rd annual Frank Brown International Songwriters’ Festival, which runs through Nov. 19. A festival born and anchored at Perdido Key’s legendary Flora-Bama Lounge, the event has spread to more than two dozen venues across Pensacola, Gulf Shores, Orange Beach, Bon Secour, Silverhill and Perdido Key.
This year’s talent roster features more than 200 songwriter-musicians, including Grammy Award winners and members of the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame.
“The Frank Brown International Songwriters’ Festival is nothing short of a magical experience,” said festival director Andy Haynes. “I am aware of long-lasting friendships that have been forged as a result of being here.”
And many a song has been born at the festival. Festival founder and president Joe Gilchrist has often told stories of songwriters joining up in hotel rooms on Perdido Key after an evening’s performance for impromptu hootenannies. Often, they end up writing together, he said.
The Frank Brown International Songwriters’ Festival is underway until Nov.19,
And when they share their works with festival attendees, it’s most often in subdued settings — not always though, since the Flora-Bama outdoor stage can get rocking.
“All the venues are intimate so you can be up close and personal with the individuals who actually created the song,” Haynes said. “Most times, the songs come from real-life experiences which the songwriter shares.”
The songwriters performing at the festival have written hits for some of the biggest names in country music — Alan Jackson, Kenny Rogers, Reba McEntire, Tim McGraw, George Jones and dozens of other superstars. (And, if you have particular hate for a certain holiday song, Randy Brooks will be performing at the festival. He wrote “Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer.)
Here are just a few of the features left to attend at this year’s Frank Brown International Songwriters’ Festival, named for the Flora-Bama’s long-gone, but still remembered.
Bluegrass Gospel with Larry Cordle, Carl Jackson and Jerry Salley: 2 p.m. Sunday, St. Andrew By the Sea, Gulf Shores, Alabama.
A Tribute to Larry Butler by Don Schlitz: Proceeds benefit the Larry Butler Memorial Award Fund. 7:30 p.m., Nov. 15, Flora-Bama Main Room.
“Tennessee Whiskey: The Dean Dillon Story:” Documentary film about songwriter Dean Dillon. 2 p.m. Nov. 17, Flora-Bama Main Room.
Larry’s Pals: Dean Dillon and Jim McBride perform a musical tribute to Larry Butler. 7:30 p.m. Nov. 17, Flora-Bama Main Room.
Legends Tribute: Hosted by festival founder Joe Gilchrist, this event is a musical tribute to past songwriters who once flocked to the festival, including Larry Butler, Wayne Carson, Hank Cochran and many more legendary songwriters. 2 p.m. Nov. 18, Flora-Bama Main Room.
For a complete schedule of events, venues and other festival information, go to frankbrownsongwriters.com. Prices for performances vary.