Rams Head Presents, BMI and The Florida Keys Tourist Development Council hosted the 27th annual Key West Songwriters Festival this past weekend (5/03 – 5/07) that brought together over 250 BMI multi-genre creators to share some of their biggest hits throughout 50 venues across the island, including multiple offerings at the festival headquarters, the Rams Head Southernmost Bar & Restaurant. 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.
BMI songwriters arrived at BNA on Wednesday morning (5/03) where they were greeted by the “Lift Off to the Kickoff” event in Delta’s sky club, as Delta Air Lines is the official airline for the festival. The highly anticipated yearly event commenced that night with the official “Sunset Pier Kick Off Party” at the Ocean Key Resort & Spa, where James Slater, the Dylan Altman Blues Band and Robert Randolph took the stage. Afterwards, fans were able to see songwriters like Brinley Addington, Rocky Block, Jacob Hackworth and Joey Hyde at Conch Republic Seafood Company before catching acts such as 2017’s BMI Icon recipient Bob DiPiero along with Rebecca Lynn Howard, Elisha Hoffman and Jeffrey Steele at the Key West Theater.
On Thursday (5/04), the takeover in the tropics continued at Rams Head Southernmost Bar & Restaurant where hourly rounds launched with Cliff Cody, Bella Dorian, Seth Ennis, Ryan Larkins, Jessica Rose and more while the Southernmost Beach Resort’s infamous “Beach Bash” provided a scenic backdrop for songwriters like Benjy Davis, Drew Kennedy, Lauren McLamb, July Moon and Emily Shackleton. “Liz Rose & Friends” at the Blue Heaven instantly became a standout moment as Rose was joined by Phil Barton, David Ray and Earl Bud Lee as well as The Love Junkies. While the Sunset Green Event Lawn hosted acclaimed songwriters like Raul Malo, Kostas, Robert Randolph and Tommy Sims, the capacity crowd at the Key West Theater enjoyed two “BMI at the Bluebird” shows as the first round featured 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.
The momentum was elevated into Friday (5/05) as “Lewis Brisbois Presents: Hometown Pub Takeover” at Rams Head Southernmost Bar & Restaurant that 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. Fans packed into Sloppy Joe’s for sets from Reid Haughton, Jordan James, Jordan Rowe and Austin Snell before BMI’s genre-bending singer/songwriter/rapper Jelly Roll headlined the Coffee Butler Amphitheater. 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 (5/06) was filled with vibrant performances from Justin Andrews, Nick Donley, Reid Houghton, Drew Kennedy, 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. Later that day fans piled onto Duval Street for “Tootsies Street Stage” with performances by Ben Chapman, Jordan James, Meg McRee and Michael Ray. That night at the Key West Theater, Michael Halpern of the Michelle’s Foundation made a surprise announcement in honor of the late Keith 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.
During the final day (5/07) of the Key West Songwriters Festival, 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. The night came to an end at the Key West Theater’s “All Star Encore – Songwriters & Stories” that included Even Stevens, Dylan Altman, Danny Myrick, Bridgette Tatum, Trent Tomlinson, Earl Bud Lee and Kostas. Since 1997, BMI and The Florida Keys Tourist Development Council have brought Music Row to Duval Street and beyond, creating a unique environment where industry professionals, songwriters, locals and tourists experience the best of Nashville in the most intimate of venues. Over the years, this highly anticipated festival has become a breeding ground for new talent and one of the most sought-after invites within the Nashville songwriting community. Notable Key West Songwriter Festival alums include Luke Combs, Florida Georgia Line, Maren Morris, Kacey Musgraves, Cole Swindell and more.