PANAMA CITY — The third annual Panama City Songwriters Festival starts Friday.
The two-day event will showcase original works of local, regional, and national songwriters and musicians. After withstanding the impacts of the pandemic on paid gigs for more than a year, the festival’s line-up this year will be thronged with more artists across more venues.
“We have a lot more out of state artists. Artists feel more comfortable now playing,” said Will Thompson, the festival’s founder. “For some of them, this is the first time they’re able to play and they are very excited. They’ve been writing songs in quarantine. Some of the songs they’re going to perform were written while in quarantine.”
“They are ready to play,” he added.
Listeners will have access to about 40 artists across six venues downtown. All of the songs performed will be original – no covers.
“They are professional songwriters, many of them write for other artists,” Thompson said, giving an example of last year’s festival songwriter performer Brian White who has written chart-topping songs for country music star Jason Aldean.
While the event has been kept free through the support of generous sponsors such as the Downtown Improvement Board and Destination Panama City, organizers have set a suggested $20 donation at the door. Venues include: Panama City Center for the Arts, 19 E. Fourth St., which will have an indoor stage and a parking lot stage; Millies Cafe, 228 Harrison Ave.; The Press, 310 Harrison Ave.; Downtown Boxing Club, 320 Luverne Ave.; and Tom’s Hot Dogs, 416 Harrison Ave.
Proceeds from the festival go toward the Bay Youth Music Association, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization Thompson founded in 2014 to raise money to support underfunded music programs at local schools. Currently, BYMA is in the process of purchasing a recording device that will support schools in recording their own music.
The festival also raises money for students who plan to pursue music music education.
Gulf Shores, Alabama-based Joshua Lindsey knows the value of being exposed to music as a discipline at an early age. At 5 years old, he started learning the piano, and by age 14 he was writing songs. Today, his music reaches deep into the roots of places that are often hidden.
“My songs capture some of the tension that we experience as human beings,” Lindsey said, listing sustaining true love and “the doubts and questions surrounding faith. (Festival goers) can expect lyrics that resonate with their experiences … and tell stories that maybe they can’t say on their own.”
Lindsey’s lyrics are ushered in on an Indie-Americana musical backdrop usually expressed accompanied by an acoustic guitar and small guitar. The artist, who will perform at Millies on Friday and Tom’s Hot Dogs on Saturday, said the festival is an opportunity to collectively heal.
“Coming out of a season where people felt isolated and disconnected, its a fantastic opportunity to rekindle the social bond and support local artists,” he said. “Music has a way of healing. It’s a good time to collectively heal and take a deep breath, and move passed the isolation. And I can’t think of a better way to do it.”
The songwriters festival is a listening-room experience in which attendees refrain from unnecessary conversations while artists are performing. Also of note, people who are commuting to the festival from Panama City Beach should be mindful of expected traffic delays on Saturday as IRONMAN will be underway.
For more information about the Panama City Songwriters Festival, visit pcsongwriters.com.
Friday’s lineup by venue is:
Street stage (19 E. Fourth St.): Few Miles South and Garrett Brown at 5:15 p.m.; Charlie Mars, Monty Powell, and Anna Wilson at 6:45 p.m.; Texas Hill at 8:20 p.m.
Center for the Arts (19 E. Fourth St.): Chuck Foster and Gary Nichols at 5 p.m.; Chris & Gileah, and Amik Culter at 6:30 p.m.; Michael Gungor at 8 p.m.
The Press (310 Harrison Ave.): Jake Burford at 5:15 p.m.; Chris Alverado at 6:30 p.m.; Dean Johanesen at 7:45 p.m.
Downtown Boxing Club (320 Luverne Ave.): Anthony Peebles, Lindsey Thompson, and Harrison McInnis at 5:45 p.m.; Shawn Byrne, Abe Partridge, and Nathan Evans Fox at 7:30 p.m.
Millies (228 Harrison Ave.): Juju Rossi and Weston Hine at 5 p.m.; Symone French and Joshua Lindsey at 6:15 p.m.; Brandon Coleman, Matthew Coleman, Drew Nix, and Laurie Anne Amour at 7:45 p.m.
Tom’s Hot Dogs (416 Harrison Ave.): Scott Rockwood, Shawn Hartung, and Ash Watson at 5:30 p.m.; Lauren Spring, Anthony Peebles, and Joe Sims at 7:15 p.m.
Saturday’s lineup by venue is:
Street stage (19 E. Fourth St.): Will & Lindsey Thompson and Dave Brainard at 5:15 p.m.; Jenny Tolman at 6:45 p.m.; Brandon Coleman, Matt Coleman, Anthony Peebles at 8:20 p.m.
Center for the Arts (19 E. Fourth St.): Shawn Byrne and Lauren Spring at 5 p.m.; Monty Powell and Anne Wilson at 6:30 p.m.; Charlie Mars and Abe Partridge at 8 p.m.
The Press (310 Harrison Ave.): Symone French at 5:15 p.m.; Weston Hine at 6:30 p.m.; Laurie Anne Armour and Drew Nix at 7:45 p.m.
Downtown Boxing Club (320 Luverne Ave.): Juju Rossi, Jake Burford, Joe Sims at 4:45 p.m.; Chris & Gileah and Taylor at 6:15 p.m.; Michael Gungor at 7:30 p.m.
Millies (228 Harrison Ave.): Chris Alverado, Scott Rockwood, Shawn Hartung at 5:45 p.m.; Nathan Evans Fox, Harrison McInnis, Dean Johanesen at 7:15 p.m.
Tom’s Hot Dogs (416 Harrison Ave.): Chuck Foster and Gary Nichols at 5 p.m.; Ash Watson and Few Miles South at 6:15 p.m.; Garrett Brown and Joshua Lindsey at 7:30 p.m.