A recent musical fundraiser was labeled “Nashville to Port St. Joe.”

A recent musical fundraiser was labeled “Nashville to Port St. Joe.”

The sounds of Nashville, of songs and their writers, will permeate the area next week as the Blast on the Bay Songwriters Festival, nine years and going strong, arrives.

Scheduled for Oct. 19-22 at 10 venues from Mexico Beach to Indian Pass, the songwriters festival is about cutting away all the studio sheen and hearing the songs with austerity.

“It is really about letting the songs speak from a place of austerity,” said Tommy Curry of The Currys, past performers at the festival.

“You also have the chance to encounter new songs, from the horse’s mouth and from the aspect of how other artists style that song.”

And in many cases, audiences will hear about the genesis of songs from the writers; what was the original idea, how did it blossom.

How, most of all, does it connect, to the artist and to the listener.

The primary ingredient, reality.

“(The song has) gotta be real,” said country artist and Port St. Joe native Troy Jones, who has attended the last two festivals. “If I’m feeling it somebody else is probably feeling it, too.

“The best songs come from the heart.”

More than 40 artists are scheduled to arrive, many of them Nashville-headquartered, as the Port St. Joe festival has become something of a beacon each October.

That is the most performers any of the prior eight festivals have lured.

“We have no shortage of Nashville artists that want to come,” said Michael McKenzie of the event’s organizing committee. “We are getting excited.”

Yes, there will be plenty of local artists, as well, including favorites such as Bo and Lauren Spring, Brian Bowen and Charlie Black.

“It is still just a blast to get up and play,” said Black. “It is a blast when you play a song and people don’t realize you wrote it and it brings this response.

“From another perspective, these kids you hear and the older ones we know and have heard, it makes you proud to be a songwriter.”

The growth of the event is evident in several aspects.

A new stage has been constructed at the Indian Pass Raw Bar in order to better accommodate the large crowds that attend the Sunday afternoon festival finale.

“It will help us with the safety,” McKenzie said. “We know the (Florida) Department of Transportation has been kind to us in the past, but we want to get people off the highway.”

And, to put on an event of this size, a ticket-pricing structure as been put in place, though the opportunity to see more than four-dozen artists in 10 venues over three days for $25 remains, organizers said, a bargain.

“The committee decided that as the festival has grown it costs a little more to put this on,” McKenzie said. “We didn’t want to put 100 percent of that burden on our venues and sponsors.

“We believe the talent we are bringing in justifies the $25 to get into all 10 venues,”

General admission, $25, brings a wristband that allows entry to every concert across the entire five days.

A VIP admission of $100 does the same thing, the primary difference being access to VIP receptions with the artists and front row seating.

General admission and VIP seating will go at each concert on first-come, first-served basis, just as it was when there was no charge.

That the event has grown, in venues and artists, over the past nine years could be significantly attributed to a critical component to the festival: the crowds, locals and visitors alike.

They pack the venues the entire weekend.

“People are just so into it here,” Black said.

For full schedule information visit Blastonthebay.com or the festival’s Facebook page.