Over the weekend, 30 Nashville songwriters visited the Forgotten Coast for the annual Blast on the Bay Songwriters’ Festival.


Over the weekend, 30 Nashville songwriters visited the Forgotten Coast for the annual Blast on the Bay Songwriters’ Festival.



Three days of free concerts got locals and visitors up close and personal with the writers who penned number one hits for country stars Faith Hill, Garth Brooks, George Strait, Alan Jackson, Reba McEntire and countless others.



The festival kicked off with a sponsor’s party on Thursday which took over the Indian Pass boat ramp and welcomed several writers for exclusive performances. The festival officially started the following day kicking off at Coneheads 8020 on Cape San Blas.



Former Nashville dwellers and current Port St. Joe residents Charlie Black and his wife Dana played the second show of the festival at Coneheads.



“I thought (the festival) went really well and we had great crowds,” said Black. “The town was wonderful to us. I heard many songwriters talking about how well everything went.”



While in Nashville Charlie was named songwriter of the year three times and was elected to the NSAI Songwriter Hall Of Fame in 1991. He penned 15 number one hit including tunes recorded by Alan Jackson, Reba McEntire, Anne Murray, George Strait and countless others.



Black was joined at the festival by his son Casey, an accomplished songwriter in his own right. With music in his veins, Casey signed with EMI Music Publishing Nashville at the age of 19, making him one of the youngest staff songwriters on Music Row.



“We had such fun playing together,” said Black. “Casey really got a spectacular reaction from the crowds. I really had fun jamming with him and he’s definitely an intense performer.”



Over the rest of the weekend concerts spread to nine venues across Port St. Joe and Mexico Beach including the Thirsty Goat, Mango Marley’s, Toucan’s, Dockside Seafood and Raw Bar, Lookout Lounge, Provisions, the Haughty Heron and the Indian Pass Raw Bar.



Each event featured four songwriters who performed in a “writer’s round” fashion with each writer playing a tune while the others joined in or simply sat back and enjoyed the song.



 On Saturday, those looking to break into the songwriting industry were treated to a two-hour question and answer workshop with writer Steve Leslie held at Dockside Seafood and Raw Bar.



Attendees listened to stories, asked questions and learned about how the industry is changing for writers.



The event culminated on Sunday at the Indian Pass Raw Bar with an afternoon of encore performances from nearly every participating songwriter, followed by a late-night jam session, giving artists the opportunity to share the stage with talent of their choosing.



Making the Raw Bar event even more special, songwriter Jerry Salley proposed to his girlfriend Erin Searcy after singing a song he had written for her.



“I want to thank event organizers Will Rambeaux and Jason Bogan,” Black said. “They do all the heavy lifting to make this possible.”



Black also thanked the sound crews who delivered expert audio during each performance. Black said that due to the speed of the shows, each performer only had mere minutes for their sound check.



“Good sound makes a difference when you’re up there performing, especially when they make it sound that good,” Black said.



The Blast on the Bay Songwriters’ Festival will return in October 2015.