Hurricane Michael forced some tweaks, but the essential ingredients of this weekend’s Blast on the Bay remain for what is the event’s 10th anniversary; or 11th year, but who’s counting.
It is all about the songwriters.
The little festival that could has grown into one of the largest events on the annual calendar and will offer plenty of songs and chords again Thursday through Sunday.
There are nearly three dozen artists committed to perform, in groups of two, three and four, at a variety of venues, many of them new to the festival courtesy of Hurricane Michael.
“We knew pretty soon after the storm we had some venues that had significant damage and would not be ready for us this year,” said Michael McKenzie with the festival organizing committee.
That included staples such as the Indian Pass Raw Bar, the Thirsty Goat and Sunset Coastal Grill to name a few.
“We had some new venues that wanted to participate in the past but we couldn’t accommodate who stepped up,” McKenzie said. “As long as we had some venues willing to participate we thought we could do it and the response on social media and from the artists reinforced that.”
Among new venues this year are the Brick Wall, Scallop Republic and St. Joseph’s Bay Golf Club.
First United Methodist Church will host the annual Sunday morning worship service and the new Lookout Lounge will serve as host this year for the annual Sunday afternoon (until whenever) jam.
“It’s my favorite festival,” said resident Debbie Hooper, who recently published a book of photos and reflections documenting the 10 years, plus one due to Michael, of the festival.
“It has the flavor of life, and Port St. Joe, in that festival. And in time it has become a family to me.”
The weekend kicks off with a VIP/Sponsors party Thursday night at The Joe Center for the Arts with Vinyl Radio beginning at 7:30 p.m. ET at Reid Ave. and Third Street.
Friday, beginning at roughly 5-6 p.m. ET at most venues, performances of three or more songwriters will be hosted at the golf club, Scallop Republic, Brick Wall, Haughty Heron and Lookout Lounge.
On Saturday, performances begin at 3 p.m. ET at Scallop Republic and the rest of the night will include performances at Krazyfish Grill, Haughty Heron and Lookout Lounge.
Sunday includes the morning service at First United Methodist Church and the daylong jam beginning at 12 p.m. ET at Lookout Lounge.
“There are tons of songwriter festivals,” said songwriter Brett Jones, who recently purchased a home in Port St. Joe. “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.”
Ticket prices are available online at blastonthebay.com.
Proceeds from the event benefit the Coastal Songwriters Education Coalition, a non-profit.
Blast on the Bay also partners with several other civic and non-profit groups in the area, including the Gulf Alliance for Local Arts, the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association and local grade schools through songwriting workshops, performances and educational opportunities surrounding this event and others throughout the year.