Brett Jones participated in his first Blast on the Bay Songwriters Festival in 2010.
He’s had a love affair going with Port St. Joe since.
“I fell in love with (Port St. Joe) my first year,” Jones said. “I don’t know what it is, maybe because it reminds me so much of my hometown of Warm Springs (GA).
“It has the same feel as Warm Springs … and the beach. I love the people. I love the place, great waters for fishing, the beach.”
With young children, the same-town feel is also welcoming, Jones added.
And like so many locals, Jones felt the impacts of Hurricane Michael when it decimated the community and cancelled the 10th anniversary of Blast on the Bay.
Jones and fellow singer/songwriter Tim Buppert came down to the area three days after Michael, grabbed chain saws and went to work for four days.
“I have never been so tired in my life,” Jones said. “We did what little we could do to help.
“There are three things I know how to do. I know how to run a chain saw, I know how to barbecue a hog and I know how to write a song.”
He used the latter to pay tribute to the area after the storm, producing and releasing a single entitled, “On the Beach Called Mexico.”
Taking his affection one step further, Jones also now understands about living in Port St. Joe after purchasing a home since the storm.
“I tried to buy one in 2011, right after my first year there, but didn’t get it,” Jones said. “Since the hurricane I have bought a place. I’m a neighbor there now.”
A neighbor who, based on sales, hits, who he has written for and performed with, is a mighty accomplished songwriter, performer and publisher.
Since being signed on to write for Ronnie Milsap in the early 1990s, Jones has written over 150 major label recordings including seven number one singles on the country charts, a pair of number twos and 14 songs that reached the top 10.
His songs have been recorded by the likes of John Michael Montgomery, Tracy Lawrence, Jason Aldean and Montgomery Gentry, among others.
He has performed on the same bills as Kenny Chesney, Little Texas, the Gatlin Brothers and Big and Rich and many more.
He will be among some three dozen singer/songwriters who will descend on Port St. Joe and Mexico Beach Oct. 17-20 for Blast on the Bay 2019, which will be officially the 10th anniversary of the event.
“There never was a doubt after Michael that we would be back,” said Michael McKenzie of the event’s organizing committee. “We knew pretty soon after the storm we had some venues that had significant damage and would not be ready for this year.
“As long as we had some venues willing to participate we thought we could do it and the feedback from social media reinforced that. It was a good thing to see.
“We’re still going to call it the 10th year; it’s just a year later.”
The damage sustained by some venues provided an opening for others.
“We had some venues that wanted to participate in the past, but we couldn’t accommodate who stepped up,” McKenzie said.
Response from the artists, likewise, was uniformly positive.
“The response has been just as good if not better,” McKenzie said. “We had a half dozen or so (including Jones and Buppert) come down after the storm to help with clean-up and all that.
“We always have more artists who want to come than we have a spot for.”
Ask Jones and he will easily explain why.
“There are tons of songwriter festivals,” Jones said. “They keep popping up all over the place.
“Someone once said a festival is only as interesting as the location and the people. For my money, Port St. Joe has it all.”