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The 13th Annual 30A Songwriter’s Festival: Keeping the Music Alive Along the World-Famous Beaches of 30A

by Will Estell on January 12th, 2022

30a songwriter's lineup 2022

If you’re a fan of live music, and the creative characters behind it, then you’ll definitely love the 30A Songwriter’s Festival. Going on Friday, January 14th – Monday, January 17th , the festival is in its 13th year. This majestic event of music and fun has now become one of the top ten songwriter’s festivals in the entire country and is revered by artists and music lovers alike.

“Every single venue has insanely talented writers and performers. It’s just the best of the best when it comes to any songwriter’s festival.”

Casey Kearney

With more than 175 artists, encompassing over 220 performances, at over 30 venues, the 30A Songwriter’s Festival most definitely has something for everyone, whether you’re a fan of 70’s folk music, 80’s rock, 90’s soul, or current country this lineup covers it all, and does so with some of the biggest hit writers and performers to ever grace one area over a four day period. Past well-known performers include: Jackson Browne, Grace Potter, Emmylou Harris (returning in 2022), Graham Nash, Brian Wilson, Brandi Carlile, the Bangles, John Prine, Ann Wilson of Heart, Rosanne Cash, Jason Isbell, Steve Earle (returning for 2022) Indigo Girls, Patty Griffin, The Raelyn Nelson Band, Lucinda Williams, the Zombies, Leon Russell, Rodney Crowell, Kristian Bush, Cheap Trick, Robert Randolph, Tanya Tucker, Sara Watkins (Nickel Creek), Shawn Mullins (back for this year), TOWNE, David Ryan Harris, Matthew Sweet, Shawn Colvin, War & Treaty, Don McLean, Richard Thompson, Loudon Wainwright, III, JD Souther, Ani DiFranco, Jerry Douglas, Lee Ann Womack, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Shovels & Rope, Joan Osbourne, North Mississippi Allstars, Suzanne Vega, Carlene Carter, Dar Williams, Gregory Alan Isakov, Robyn Hitchcock, the Rascals, Adia Victoria, Herman’s Hermits, and many more. Check out this year’s phenomenal lineup at 30asongwritersfestival.com/lineup.

“It feeds your soul in a way that only music and the coast can.”

Raelyn Nelson

The festival is spread across a span of roughly 25 miles of South Walton, and is comprised of the large outdoor main stage at Grand Boulevard shopping and entertainment complex, along with around 30 smaller venues spanning the Scenic Hwy. 30A stretch, including popular restaurants, bars, hotel lobbies and cafés. When I asked returning artist, Raelyn Nelson –who also just happens to be the iconic Willie Nelson’s granddaughter– about the festival, she had this to say, “The 30A Songwriter’s Festival is perfect for musicians and songwriters, and we all look forward to it. It’s always in the middle of winter. Even on a regular year without pandemics, we don’t get to play many shows on the road from November through March. We are all itching to play and sing by January. Especially with likeminded people on a beach! It’s like going on a yoga or spa retreat. It feeds your soul in a way that only music and the coast can.” My friend, Casey Kearney, also a returning artist, put it this way, “The 30A Songwriter’s Festival is one of my favorite events of the year. Not only to play at, but also to attend as a fan. I’ve been invited to play three years now and it never disappoints. Every single venue has insanely talented writers and performers. It’s just the best of the best when it comes to any songwriter’s festival.”

From the main stage at Grand Boulevard, featuring Saturday and Sunday’s headliners ( Emmylou Harris, Mavis Staples, Birds of a Feather, Dawes, Rickie Lee Jones, Jenny Lewis) to popular spots like AJ’s Grayton Beach, Bud & Ally’s, Water Color’s Fish Out of Water and 30A Café to The Hub, Rosemary Beach Town Hall, and LaCo, there is certainly no shortage of venues hosting great songwriters and musicians for this event. Since its inception in 2010, the 30A Songwriter’s Festival has become the largest and best-known songwriter’s festival in the southeast, and now the country. The festival is put on by the Walton County (Florida) Cultural Arts Alliance (CAA), and is co-produced by Russell Carter Artist Management out of Atlanta area. Additionally, 100% of the 30A Songwriter’s Festival’s net profits go toward supporting the not-for-profit organization’s mission to advance the arts in Walton County through education, leadership, advocacy, and the funding of special arts related programs within the community.

30a Songwriters Festival Tickets

With four day weekend passes starting at only $380, and enhanced VIP passes at just $875, the festival is quite the bargain, considering you have to ability to likely catch 20 or more artists across the entire weekend, if you plan accordingly in jumping from one venue to another. The organizers make this easy to navigate too, using the festivals official app, which you can download for free onto your iPhone or Android, in addition to the entire lineup, along with each venue and show time, being available on the official festival site  also. You can also purchase one day passes for the Saturday and Sunday main stage shows at Grand Boulevard, for only $140 per person, per day. Thus allowing you to catch those shows even if you may not have to time to navigate the entire four days of the festival this year. Trust me, catching any of this is worth the effort, and once you do, I can almost assure you that you will be hooked, and back for more in 2023.

Places To Stay During the 30A Songwriters Festival

30A Songwriters Festival venue, Hibiscus Coffee and Guesthouse

Need a place to stay in the area? Just click on our links at Highway 30A Vacation Rentals for details on hotels, condos, and houses offering everything you and your family need for a perfect winter stay at the beach. Many of these rentals can be booked online directly from our website with no added fees.

Graham Nash and Chris Stills perform at the 2015 30A Songwriters Festival.
Graham Nash and Chris Stills perform at the 2015 festival. Photo by Dawn Chapman Whitty.

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Will Estell is a writer and editor with over 400 published articles in various publications, as well as numerous online articles in an array of genres. He’s been instrumental in founding eleven new magazine titles from concept to fruition, for other publishing companies and his own partnerships. Will actively partakes in freelance media projects for select local, regional, and national publications, including serving as Editor In Chief, of BeachGuide Magazine.
Originally from the backwoods of rural Mississippi, then Alabama, Will is a father of three who currently splits his time between homes in Destin and Navarre, along with his wife, ABC news anchor, Laura Hussey. When he’s not writing, reading or consulting he enjoys attending live musical events, hanging out with friends, and the beach.
You can follow him on IG @IfWillUsedInsta and FB @Will.Estell

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