BMI Celebrates 27th Annual Key West Songwriters Festival
The 27th annual Key West Songwriters Festival took place this past weekend (May 3-7), bringing together over 250 BMI multi-genre songwriters to 50 different venues across the island. Hosted by Rams Head Presents, BMI and The Florida Keys Tourist Development Council, proceeds from the five-day event benefit the BMI Foundation, a nonprofit founded in 1985 that supports music education and creation through various grants and scholarships, along with Michelle’s Foundation, a Key West-based nonprofit that helps children and families in need.
When BMI songwriters arrived to the Nashville airport on Wednesday morning (May 3), they were greeted by the Lift Off to the Kickoff event in Delta’s Sky Club, as Delta Air Lines is the official airline of the festival.
The anticipated Sunset Pier Kick Off Party served as the festival’s official commencement. Hosted at Ocean Key Resort & Spa, James Slater, the Dylan Altman Blues Band and Robert Randolph were the entertainment. Brinley Addington, Rocky Block, Jacob Hackworth and Joey Hyde took the stage at Conch Republic Seafood Company following the kick-off party, and the evening closed with music from 2017’s BMI Icon recipient Bob DiPiero along with Rebecca Lynn Howard, Elisha Hoffman and Jeffrey Steele at the Key West Theater.
On Thursday (May 4), attendees were treated to rounds at the Rams Head Southernmost Bar & Restaurant, hearing from songwriters Cliff Cody, Bella Dorian, Seth Ennis, Ryan Larkins, Jessica Rose, Benjy Davis, Drew Kennedy, Lauren McLamb, July Moon and Emily Shackleton.
Liz Rose brought her friends Phil Barton, David Ray and Earl Bud Lee as well as fellow Love Junkies Hillary Lindsey and Lori McKenna to the Blue Heaven on Thursday, while the Sunset Green Event Lawn hosted acclaimed songwriters such as Raul Malo, Kostas, Robert Randolph and Tommy Sims. The Key West Theater hosted the BMI at the Bluebird shows over the weekend, with Thursday’s shows featuring Elle King, Madeline Edwards and Ella Langley followed by The Love Junkies.
The Texas Heritage Songwriters Association and the Texas Music Office presented the Texas Showcase at the San Carlos Institute, where Jack Ingram, David Lee and Bobby Pinson paid their respects to the late Keith Gattis by sharing stories of their longtime friend as a vacant stool and cowboy hat was center stage.
On Friday (May 5), Rams Head Southernmost Bar & Restaurant highlighted the talents of Ronnie Bowman, Clint Daniels, Mae Estes, Kylie Frey, Dylan Marlowe, Meghan Patrick and more. Kimpton Lighthouse Court welcomed Joseph Patton, Sophia Scott, Bryan Simpson and Adam Wood, while Sloppy Joe’s hosted Reid Haughton, Jordan James, Jordan Rowe and Austin Snell.
Jelly Roll headlined the Coffee Butler Amphitheater on Friday night. Afterward the HD Radio Late Night Hang at The Backyard Bar kept the party going into the morning with Playin’ Through The Night hosted by Tyler Reeve, Trent Tomlinson and friends.
Saturday (May 6) was filled with performances from Justin Andrews, Nick Donley, Reid Houghton, Drew Kennedy and Emma Kelin at The Marker Resort Pool Party, while The Perry Hotel & Marina hosted artists such as Kelly Archer, Tofer Brown, Ashley Cooke, Carter Faith, Lauren Hungate and Ava Suppelsa.
For a special Tootsies Street Stage show on Duval Street, Ben Chapman, Jordan James, Meg McRee and Michael Ray took the stage. That night at the Key West Theater, Michael Halpern of the Michelle’s Foundation made a surprise announcement in honor of Gattis. As the influential songwriter was scheduled to perform that night, the Michelle’s Foundation revealed that they will be providing his two children with their future college tuition expenses.
On the festival’s final day (May 7), the Sunset Green Event Lawn hosted Sunday Funday with Ken Johnson, Justin Schools and Seth Michael, while the Southernmost House Hotel featured Anna Wilson, Monty Powell, Cameron Wrinkle and Josiah Siska.
Even Stevens, Altman, Danny Myrick, Bridgette Tatum, Tomlinson, Earl Bud Lee and Kostas closed up the 27th edition of the Key West Songwriters Festival at the Key West Theater’s All Star Encore – Songwriters & Stories event.