Floridians and visitors to the Sunshine State can escape the winter doldrums and enjoy some fine music in mid-January. The South Florida Folk Festival and the 30A Songwriters Festival take place over the same weekend in different parts of the state. The former includes the finals of an annual singer-songwriter competition, while the latter features such big-name talents as Steve Earle and Emmylou Harris.

South Florida Folk Festival Features a Singer-Songwriter Competition

Jack Williams is among the headliners at the 2018 South Florida Folk Festival.

Jack Williams is among the headliners at the 2018 South Florida Folk Festival.

The Currys, The Dave Nachmanoff Band, and Jack Williams headline the 2018 South Florida Folk Festival. Presented by the nonprofit Broward Folk Club, the festival takes place Saturday-Sunday, Jan. 13-14. More than 40 musicians will perform on two stages at Fort Lauderdale’s Hugh Taylor Birch State Park (3109 E. Sunrise Blvd., just west of A1A) over the weekend.

Since its inception 20 years ago, the festival has been a combination of music fest, family reunion, community gathering, and weekend musical retreat. In addition to the festival’s headliners, a number of Florida-based musicians and other national touring acts are slated to perform. These include Ellen Bukstel, Kate Callahan (Connecticut State Troubadour), Caroline Cotter & Michael Thomas Howard, Jerry DeMeo, Jacob Johnson, Tom Lyman (all the way from Budapest, Hungary), Rod MacDonald, Laurie McClain, Danielle Miraglia, New Middle Class, Angela Parrish, Bill & Eli Perras, Roy Schneider & Kim Mayfield, Doug Spears, Twangtown Paramours, Mare Wakefield & Nomad, and Laura Zucker, among others. Some of the performing artists also will lead workshops, while there also will be a jam area for those who enjoy playing traditional folk and other acoustic styles of music.

Kicking-off the weekend’s musical festivities on Saturday, Jan. 16, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., will be the 12 finalists in the festival’s singer-songwriter competition, each of whom will perform two songs. They are Bear & Robert (Jacksonville, FL), Randy Brown (Mineola, TX), Nigel Egg (Minneapolis, MN), Lauren Heintz (Winter Park, FL), Sonya Heller (Calicoon Center, NY), Judy Kass (Tarrytown, NY), Leah Kaufman (Raleigh, NC), Claudia Nygaard (Nashville, TN), Cecilia St. King (Delray Beach, FL), Kray Van Kirk (Arcata, CA), Joe Virga (Cape Coral, FL), and Joel Zoss (West Palm Beach, FL).

Three winners selected by a panel of judges will each receive the Vic Heyman Songwriting Award – a $200 cash prize and an invitation to perform at the 2019 festival – as will 2017 winners Jane Fallon (Brookline, NH), Amber Ikeman (Bozeman, MT) and Austin MacRae (Ithaca, NY) at this event. In addition, all winners and finalists may be afforded the opportunity to perform ‘in-the-round’ during the festival’s second day, on Sunday, Jan. 14.

The annual songwriting competition is co-presented by Reba Heyman. Along with her late husband, Vic, Reba has been an integral part of the folk community in South Florida and nationally for many years. The couple has been known for decades for their generous financial backing of folk festivals and artists. They formerly ran a concert series in Rockville, Maryland known as Vic’s Music Corner, have established a scholarship fund for artists, and served on the boards of several music festivals.

For more information on the festival, which is co-sponsored by Sea Turtle Oversight Protection (STOP), and to order tickets in advance, visit www.southfloridafolkfest.com.

30A Songwriters Festival Features More Than 175 Performing Artists

Now in its ninth year, the 30A Songwriters Festival is set for Friday-Monday, Jan. 12-15. More than 175 artists are slated to perform at two-dozen venues and locations along the Florida Gulf Coast’s scenic Highway 30A in Walton County.

Emmylou Harris, a 13-time Grammy Award-winner, co-headlines the 30A Songwriters Festival.

Emmylou Harris, a 13-time Grammy Award-winner, co-headlines the 30A Songwriters Festival.

The 30A Songwriters Festival features artists working in such genres as Americana, blues, country, folk, and soul. Headliners include Steve Earle, Emmylou Harris, North Mississippi Allstars, Ann Wilson of Heart, Lee Ann Womack, and The Zombies. Although the festival schedule has not yet been finalized and posted online, among the other confirmed artists are David Berkeley, Dan Bern, Bonnie Bishop, Jeff Black, Crystal Bowersox, Randall Bramblett, Mary Bragg, Eliot Bronson, Edie Carey, Hayes Carll, Deanna Carter, Peter Case, Joe Crookston, Don Dixon & Marti Jones, Ian Fitzgerald, Ruthie Foster, Mary Gauthier, John Gorka, Ingrid Graudins, Patty Griffin, Sarah Lee Guthrie & Johnny Irion, Robby Hecht, Griffin House, Will Kimbrough, Korby Lenker, Liz Longley, Michelle Malone, The Mastersons, Kathy Mattea, James McMurtry, Rhett Miller, Dan Navarro, Old Salt Union, Gretchen Peters, Kim Richey, Emily Saliers of Indigo Girls, The Secret Sisters, Caroline Spence, Jesse Terry, Paul Thorn, Becky Warren, Reed Waddle, Seth Walker, and The War & Treaty.

These artists and more will perform at amphitheaters, town halls, restaurants, theaters, bars and covered patios — with capacities ranging from intimate indoor venues that can seat 75 people to outdoor settings that can accommodate a few thousand.

“The 30A Songwriters Festival is one of the most diverse songwriters festivals I’ve ever been to,” says Shawn Mullins, who also will showcase his talents. “The wide range of songwriters performing, the great crowds, the unique venues, and the beautiful location all make for an incredible experience.”

Festival weekend passes, beginning at $280, can be purchased online at www.30asongwritersfestival.com, where you’ll also find more information on the festival, its performers and venues – including a complete schedule when it’s available. Tickets may also be purchased in-person at the Cultural Arts Alliance’s office in Santa Rosa Beach, The Foster Gallery in Grand Boulevard, and at Central Square Records in Seaside.

NPR’s Folk Alley, a multimedia music service produced by WKSU in Ohio, will be on site throughout the weekend, interviewing artists and filming and recording performances. The Sessions from the 30A Songwriters Festival will later air on the syndicated Folk Alley radio show and also will be archived at www.folkalley.com.