Written by Michael Pittman

30A (15)Where? That’s always the first question. When I explain it’s in Florida on a little strip of beachfront highway called 30A about 3 hours east of New Orleans it begins to make sense.

Well, how was it? Ohh…it was FABULOUS. Worth the trip on so many levels. How does a gathering of over 160 singer-songwriters in at least 25 different venues with shows running from just about lunchtime til the wee hours for 3 days and nights sound?

Add to this the temperate Florida weather, the pristine white sand and the emerald ocean…how can you possibly go wrong? Well, ok it’s January and you might need a jacket.

In their 7th year, this is the best organized, best executed festival of its kind I have ever been to. Producers Russell Carter and Jennifer Steele, together with various local arts councils and ASCAP overlook nothing to bring the best talent from all around the country into some of the finest listening rooms anywhere.

And listening IS enforced. Refreshing.

For me, it all started with a phone call from one of my oldest friends. Kent, who currently lives in Atlanta, asked if I’d ever heard of 30A and offered to put me up for the duration. After I saw the lineup I knew I couldn’t resist , so I packed my bag and a guitar and headed out.

From Jackson Browne, to JD Souther to Grace Potter, Shawn Mullins, Levi Lowrey, Willis Alan Ramsey, Jamie Lin Wilson to Ani DiFranco, Chris Stills, Bonnie Bishop..Suzy Bogguss, Hayes Carll the best of the best kept rolling out the songs.  Everywhere you turn, in almost every door you step into someone is on a stage.

Have a look at www.30asongwritersfestival.com. For a music lover, this is just about as good as it gets.

The energy was infectious, the music was real and the location couldn’t have been any more pristine, safe and conducive to the pure enjoyment of the song and the songwriter’s craft.  Next year I’ll try to set up a caravan because it’s just that worth it.

Special note from the ‘you never know’ department, one of our roomates was Tony Sarno. In case you’re not familiar, Tony plays guitar for Felix Cavaliere’s Rascals. Remember the Rascals? True Lovin…Groovin on a Sunday Afternoon…? On a Saturday we were finally able to get a little playing in. Tony on guitar, Kent on drums and myself on bass.  Great time and almost totally unexpected. Check Tony out at www.tonysarno.com.