Key West Songwriters Fest (Video)

Frame – 917By FloridaKeysNewsBureau For, May 8, 2015 – KEY WEST, Fla. — Scores of America’s top performing songwriters are taking the stage in casual island settings this week during the 20th Key West Songwriters Festival.

An annual tradition for many leading country and pop music hitmakers, the festival began early Wednesday evening and continues through Sunday, May 10.

“We have over 225 performers here for the next five days, putting 50 shows on around Key West,” said festival president and founder Charlie Bauer.

Wednesday’s early evening kickoff concert starred Jack Ingram, whose past hits include the Top 10 summertime anthem “Barefoot and Crazy,” and was staged on a resort pier overlooking the Gulf of Mexico.

“A lot of people know me in the country mainstream as a guy who has hit songs and does that part of my career, and I feel like I’ve made a good claim in that area,” said Ingram. “But my heart has always been — the only reason I’m here — is because of songwriting.”

The five-day festival’s talent roster also includes Raul Malo, solo artist and frontman for the Grammy-winning Mavericks; Liz Rose, co-writer of numerous songs with pop sensation Taylor Swift; Jeffrey Steele, writer of more than 80 top 10 songs; and Rhett Akins, who has penned 18 number-one singles.

Scheduled highlights include a free outdoor concert on Key West’s famed Duval Street headlined by Grammy-nominated country artist Chris Young. Other featured performers will share stages at island city bars, restaurants, theaters, resort beaches, poolsides and even an excursion catamaran at sunset.

“‘Barefoot and Crazy’ does feel like it fits here in Key West,” Ingram said. “In fact, I was wearing boots when I walked off the plane today, and the first thing that crossed my mind was, ‘Oh my God, I’ve gotta find a surf shop and go get some flip-flops.'”

Presented by BMI, the Key West Songwriters Festival benefits the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.