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#662675 - 10/25/08 12:55 AM New Songwriter Festival  
Joined: Oct 2008
Posts: 4
Eddie Offline
Casual Observer
Eddie  Offline
Casual Observer

Joined: Oct 2008
Posts: 4


First Annual Amelia Island Songwriters Festival 2008
By Eddie Rhoades http://www.sonicbids.com/eddierhoades

Just about a year ago, I was noodling around on the Internet searching for songwriters conferences. On Dogpile I keyed in Songwriters Festival and up popped two; a dot com in Nashville and a dot org in Ameila Island, Florida. There was not a lot on the dot org web page, just a few lines saying they held weekly songwriter contests for locals but wanted to expand to something bigger and were open for ideas about how to accomplish this.

I emailed the link given and received a response from Joe Warwick asking me to call him. I gave him a call we talked for 30 minutes or more about how to host a songwriters festival on a national basis. I had not been involved in hosting a festival but I had attended the Frank Brown International Songwriters Festival in Gulf Shores for several years and was scheduled for one in Nashville plus the Durango Festival was also coming up for the first time in the East. The very first idea suggested was to contact BMI & NSAI and they would tell him exactly how to do it and would step up and help a lot with the logistics and preparations but there would be plenty left for Joe to do. We also discussed lining up local sponsors like the Chamber of Commerce, radio stations and local businesses. I explained how the Frank Brown International Songwriter's Festival lines up venues all over town instead of just one location where attendees might overwhelm the one location. I gave him contact information for Reneda Cross who heads FBISF. Joe said he would consider all suggestions and that he intended to go to Key West to observe how their festival was run.

Joe explained how the local songwriter's guild met weekly at the Frisky Mermaid bar inside the Florida House Hotel and how they always had a contest with a theme to write their songs about.
Everyone would write and perform songs about these theme topics. I didn't think that would be a good idea because it seemed limiting. Of course I was completely wrong. If you're simply going to perform, then play anything you want providing it's original, but if there is a contest you do need guidelines. Joe had great ideas about the themes such as: drinking, guitar, Island life and several more. All these festival are a lot alike but there is always something different about each one and I think Joeís idea of themes and cash prizes sets it apart from others.

The event ran from Wednesday August 27th thorough Sunday August 31st - Labor Day weekend. I didn't arrive until Friday so I had missed the "Drinking" category contest - too bad because I had a great song for that. I did enter two contests and did not win either. I didn't even place. So much for putting "Contest Winner" on my resume' But as Jason Blume said, "These contests are fun but don't be discouraged if you don't win, it's no reflection on your talent," Even he had placed last in an international contest in England many years ago but never lost faith in his songwriting ability. I can guarantee you I will be attending Jasonís workshop next year.

Even though I didn't win, there were times between programs where I was able to perform several of my best songs at the many different venues. I had a lot of fun acting as emcee and telling jokes. Anyone could have done this as they asked for volunteers to fill the time gaps between judging. I jumped at these opportunities.

BMI sent some of their big-name songwriters down for several showcase performances. I spoke to Mike Geiger who was born and raised in Fernandina Beach, Florida and now resides in Nashville. He commented that this festival ran smoother than most he'd seen, especially since it was the first time for it. John Wiggins was there, he's the guy who wrote "Tequila Makes Her Clothes Fall Off" which he performed at Whacky Davey's. I would like to point out that these professionals are all very approachable. I spoke to one of these professionals and promptly forgot his name only to later see him several times and he always called me by name. I got to see him perform at a venue and he began playing this fantastic lead guitar and it dawned on me his name is Chuck Jones and I had seen him play in Georgia at a place called Swallow at the Hollow performing with Chuck Cannon.

Every year I attend songwriter festivals in Nashville, Gulf Shores, and Asheville. Now I will be adding Amelia Island, Florida to that list. These events are wonderful places to meet and hang out with other musicians who play their original songs, plus you get to showcase your songs, have lots of fun (party), and make new friends.

Eddie Rhoades
#663246 - 10/27/08 05:46 PM Re: New Songwriter Festival [Re: Eddie]  
Joined: May 2006
Posts: 4,489
Moker Jarrett Offline
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Moker Jarrett  Offline
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Joined: May 2006
Posts: 4,489
jacksonville, fl
Welcome to JPF, home of music minded friends...Thanks for the article Eddie, i'm a writer in Jacksonville and i had to miss this because of prior commitments. I'm sure it was even more fun in person than what you can describe here. I missed the Durango one this time too, i have been to several of those, couldn't afford it this year though. Write great, write often, be well...moker

#663905 - 10/30/08 07:42 AM Re: New Songwriter Festival [Re: Moker Jarrett]  
Joined: Sep 2008
Posts: 82
Lamorna Offline
Serious Contributor
Lamorna  Offline
Serious Contributor

Joined: Sep 2008
Posts: 82
Ontario, Canada.
Well Done Eddie,

Can we hear or see some of your songs ? it's also nice to hear of positive results from all this dedicated effort
Thanks for posting.

So many of these contests seem to be judged by people who have never quite made it themselves, and they sometimes chose the best recordings of poor songs. The better writers with modest demos are often overlooked.

Lamorna Darcie

Writing Great songs are a gift,

Getting those songs to the right ears is the hardest part.


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