THIS WEEKEND: Rita Wilson, John Fullbright, Lilly Hiatt + 182 More Take the Stage at 30A Songwriters Fest

Rita Wilson

The 9th annual 30A Songwriters Festival, set for January 12-15, 2018, has announced new additions and the full line-up for the 2018 celebration of singers and songs.

The festival, held in venues along scenic Highway 30A in Florida’s South Walton County, will feature main stage performances in presenting partner Grand Boulevard’s Town Center by esteemed artists.

Newly Confirmed artists include Rita Wilson, John Fullbright, Lilly Hiatt and Rhett Miller among others.

Also confirmed for premier performances are Cory Chisel & Adriel Denae, Deana Carter, Amy Lavere, Gary Louris (of the Jayhawks), Ken Block & Drew Copeland (of Sister Hazel) and Sarah Lee Guthrie. 

Emmylou Harris

Previously confirmed artists include Emmylou HarrisSteve EarleThe ZombiesNorth Mississippi Allstars and Lee Ann Womack, Charles Kelley of Lady Antebellum, Patty GriffinEmily Saliers of Indigo Girls with her solo Murmuaration Nation band, Shawn Mullins and Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame members Mike Reid and Craig Wiseman.

The 30A Songwriters Festival production team transforms amphitheaters, town halls, restaurants, theaters, bars and covered patios into unique music venues ranging in capacity from 75 to 500 seats indoors and 5,000 outdoors.

Festival weekend passes are now available for $290.

VIP and Premier weekend passes are now sold out. However, single day passes are still available. They can be purchased at, and locally in South Walton at the Cultural Arts Alliance office in Santa Rosa Beach, the Foster Gallery in Grand Boulevard and at Central Square Records in Seaside.

Click here to purchase tickets.

Steve Earle

Among the 185 stellar songwriters who will perform at the 2018 Festival are:

Lauren Staley & Jason Morrow (The Whiskey Gentry), Raelyn Nelson Band,  Diane Gentile with Alfonso Velez, Airpark, Alan Rhody, Amilia K Spicer, Andi Zack-Johnson, Becca Mancari, Ben Glover, Billy Montana, Blake Bollinger, Blake Guthrie, Boukou Groove, Bradley Cole Smith, Brian White,Chas Sandford, Courtyard Saints, Crystal Bowersox, Dan Bern, Dave Franklin, Dead Rock West,Don DiLego, Donnie Sundal, Ella Blue, Gabe Dixon, Jade Jackson, Jaimee Harris, Jennifer Lynn Simpson, Jeremy Lister, Joe Leathers, Johnny Irion, Jonathan Mitchell, Karyn Williams, Granville Automatic, Hugh Mitchell, I’MAGENE, Korby Lenker, Kyle LaMonica, Kyle Mitchell, Lily Winwood, Marc Harris & Jab Wilson, Max Gomez, Max McCann, The AJ Ghent Band, Nicole Chillemi, Parker & Parker, Paul Burch, Phil Madeira, Sarah Peacock, Shannon LaBrie, Skylar Gudasz, Sterling Fletcher, The Sundogs and The Haraway Brothers, Tommy Womack, TOWNE,Tyler Flowers, Ingrid Graudins, Wildlife Specials, Wyatt Edmondson, and Wyatt Espalin.

“The 2018 Festival lineup is shaping up to be the best ever combination of Americana, Country, Folk, Alternative and Blues songwriters” said Russell Carter, Festival Co-Producer.

“The 30A Songwriters Festival is a unique cultural event like no other in this area. The Festival brings together nearly every South Walton community and many businesses to showcase our home as a destination not only for its beautiful beaches but also for its musical and creative excellence, which is the purpose of the Cultural Arts Alliance,” said Jennifer Steele, the Executive Director and Festival Co-Producer. “The Festival is critical to the mission of the Cultural Arts Alliance and by far our biggest fundraiser. 100% of the Festival’s net proceeds go back into our non-profit and enable the CAA to continue to be a champion for the arts in Walton County.”

The Zombies

Here’s a glimpse of some of the talents performing in the 2018 Festival:


Well-known as an actress (It’s Complicated, Sleepless in Seattle, a recurring role in CBS’s The Good Wife, HBO’s award-winning series, Girls and, most recently on Broadway in Larry David’s smash hit, Fish in the Dark), and as a film producer (Mamma Mia!, My Big Fat Greek Wedding and its sequel, My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2, for which she co-wrote and performed Even More Mine) her first love is music. In May 2012, Wilson realized a lifelong dream with the debut of her solo album AM/FM. The album, released by Decca/Verve Records, is an intimate, elegant and beautifully sung collection of covers of her favorite songs from the ‘60s and ‘70s. Since the release of AM/FM, Wilson has been focusing on a new component of her musical career as a songwriter. In March 2016, she released her self-titled second album, showcasing her skill for creating insightful, eloquent singer-songwriter pop music that is etched with stunning honesty. For two years prior to the release, Wilson worked with a host of the finest award-winning and best-selling songwriters and producers in both Los Angeles and Nashville. This new material was prominently featured in her two-week residency at the famed Café Carlyle in New York City. “Ms. Wilson has a catch in her voice that conveys yearning and potential heartbreak behind a façade of cheer. As a stage performer, she is gregarious and forthright; a natural entertainer,” said The New York Times.


Rhett Miller

Lead singer of The Old 97’s Rhett Miller released his new solo album, The Traveler, on May 19th 2015. The album features the instrumentation of Black Prairie (membs. Of The Decemberists), Peter Buck and Scott McCaughey (membs. Of REM) and is Rhett’s seventh solo effort. “Miller’s songs have been described aptly as “smart, funny, and thoughtful. They evoke a larger world of constant existential yearning, minus any tedious genre purism.” – Mother Jones


Over the last three decades, singer, songwriter, guitarist and producer Gary Louris has built a deeply compelling body of music whose artistry and integrity has won the loyalty of an international audience and the respect of both critics and his peers. Best known for his seminal work with The Jayhawks, Louris is one of the most acclaimed musicians to come out of Minnesota’s teaming rock scene. With Louris as a key member, The Jayhawks have kept their fans happy with 9 studio albums since 1985. In 2016 The Jayhawks released Paging Mr Proust, which many critics called their best album in years. Louris is also a founding member of Golden Smog, has released one solo album in 2008 and in 2015 released the debut album by Au Pair, a side project with Django Haskins. Over the years Louris has also found time to lend his writing, performing and production talents to albums by acts as diverse as the Black Crowes, the Dixie Chicks, Joe Henry, John Hiatt, Lucinda Williams, Roger McGuinn, Maria McKee, Nickel Creek, Tift Merritt, the Sadies, The Wallflowers and many others.


Cory Chisel & Adriel Denae

Wisconsin native Cory Chisel first connected with the power of song – and the spellbinding possibilities of live performance – through the music he heard in church. His father was a Baptist preacher, his mother played the organ and Chisel and his sister sang. The gospel’s rich vernacular of loss and redemption also informed his innate poetic sense and lyrical range. Chisel went on to become a critically acclaimed recording artist who was deemed one of 2009’s “Best New Artist’s” by Rolling Stone for his RCA release Death Won’t Send A Letter. His latest release Old Believers came out in 2012. Chisel has played festivals around the world including Glastonbury, Bonnaroo and Newport Folk Festival; appeared on Jimmy Fallon, The Late Show with David Letterman and Conan. In 2017 Cory Chisel released Tell Me True, his first duo album with partner and bandmate Adriel Denae.


Lilly Hiatt

“Gonna hang on a little bit longer, sleep well, work a little harder; put my faith in something I can’t see,” sings Lilly Hiatt on the title track of her third LP, Trinity Lane. It’s a set of honest words from an album of personal truths; a collection of songs that take stock of where she’s been, where she’s going and the challenges she’s weathered to get there. Produced by Michael Trent of Shovels & Rope, Trinity Lane is indeed about hanging on, working hard and keeping the faith, centered on songwriting that melds the observational with the confessional and never tries to follow any particular genre code – the guitar riffs are as Seattle as they are southern, the topics are modern as they are built on the past. East Nashville’s Trinity Lane is where Hiatt lives, and Trinity Lane is a document of what lives inside her. “There is a lot of hope in the album,” says Hiatt about the follow-up to her sophomore LP, Royal Blue. “There is a lot of pain, but this album is a more mature response to that pain. It’s taking responsibility of those emotions, and realizing what they are. A little brighter perspective. It took some time to get there.” Trinity Lane is full of gifts and full of guts – an album that is a healing process and a road map forward, filled with Hiatt’s wildly expressive approach to songwriting and stark, honest lyrics.

Join Adam Caperton and explore some of the best French regional wines at Friday’s Loire Valley Wine Tasting or Southern Italian wines on Saturday at the Pointe on 30A.  Travis Croxton, the owner of the Rappahannock Oyster Company will be in town with two of his chefs Shane Graybeal and Jessica Opperman from RockSalt. The tastings begin each afternoon at 4:30pm on the roof top bar at the Pointe observing the sunset over the Gulf of Mexico – with champagne and Rappahannock oysters. The full tastings, food, and music begin on the ground level at 5:00pm to 6:30pm. Look forward on Friday to musical performances by Marc Harris & Jab Wilson and Lauren Staley & Jason Morrow of the Whiskey Gentry and on Saturday by Marc Harris & Jab Wilson followed by Jade Jackson.

Luther Dickinson

Saturday Grayton Beer Taproom Performances: This Saturday night special event will feature musical performances by the Luther Dickinson Band (of North Mississippi Allstars) and Aaron Lee Tasjan with his band.  Ticket holders will also receive complimentary Grayton Beer! Doors at 6pm, Performances from 7pm – 9pm.

The 30A Songwriters Festival has once again teamed up with NPR’s Folk Alley, a multi-media music service produced by WKSU. Folk Alley will be on site throughout the weekend producing unique sessions interviewing artists and filming and recording performances in a home studio on 30A to be posted on the website. ASCAP returns as a sponsor and hosts a three-night series of up-and-coming and seasoned songwriters in the round and late night artist parties.

Net proceeds from the festival benefit the Cultural Arts Alliance and help it to fulfill its mission to advance the arts throughout Walton County.

Members of the Alliance receive a 10% discount off weekend passes and admission to an exclusive performance on Wednesday, January 10. Call 850-622-5970 to become a member and take advantage of the discount.

The 30A Songwriters Festival is supported by many dedicated sponsors including  Grand Boulevard, ASCAP, Grayton Beer Company, St. Joe Community Foundation, WaterColor, Centennial Bank, Rosemary Beach Realty & Cottage Rentals & William Royce Smith, Realtor, Silver Sands Premium Outlets, Tito’s Vodka (Official Vodka of the 2018 30A Songwriters Festival), The Sanctuary at 331, Hearts Bluff Music Publishing, BOTE Boards, Emerald Coast Wine & Spirits, Northwest Florida Beaches International Airport, Premier Property Group, Fisher’s Flowers, and gulfcoastgo. The official venues of the 30A Songwriters Festival are Grand Boulevard, North Park, Vue on 30A, The Gulley Amphitheatre at Gulf Place on 30A, Shunk Gulley, Trebeache, The Bay, The Craft Bar, Hibiscus, AJ’s Grayton, The Gathering Spot, The Lakehouse, The Boathouse, Bud & Alley’s, Bud & Alley’s Pizza Bar, The Rep Theatre in Seaside, FL, Central Square Records, 723 Whiskey Bravo, Old Florida Fish House, The Hub, Grayton Beer Company Tap Room, Caliza, Rosemary Beach Town Hall, Amavida, Rosemary Beach, The Pearl, The Pointe, and Watersound Origins Café.

For more info, visit


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