Frank Brown International Songwriters Festival
Schedule at FrankBrownSongwriters.com
By Fran Thompson
More than 200 acclaimed songwriters will perform some of the biggest hits in modern music during the 34th Annual Frank Brown International Songwriters Festival, scheduled Nov. 8-18 on the Florida/Alabama Gulf Coast.
While the Flora-Bama Lounge is the base for the festival, performers also will perform original works in intimate settings at 30 other venues in Gulf Shores, Orange Beach, Bon Secour, and Josephine as well as Perdido Key and Pensacola.
Each location will host a diverse lineup, with writers often sharing the stage and swapping songs, turning some sets into spellbinding jam sessions.
Flora-Bama co-owner Joe Gilchrist founded the FBISF in 1984 as a way to celebrate the end of the season with local artists, visiting Nashcats and other musical friends. Gilchrist was sponsoring his songwriting friends for shows at the Flora-Bama in the off-season prior to 1984. But the first official FBISF was held at The Saenger Theatre in Pensacola. Gilchrist said he lost $10,000 on the venture.
“After that, I figured if I was going to lose that kind of money, I might as well have it at my own place,’’ he said.
The festival thrived at the Flora-Bama with 11 nights of non-stop music – usually ending with Gilchrist buying a round for the diehards at 2 a.m. – until 1994, when event director Brucie Glassell spearheaded an effort to share the musical wealth throughout the community.
The festival is fluid by nature, meaning the schedule is subject to change. Even if you have a printed schedule, it is best to check FrankBrownSongwriters.com every day for updated information.
“We are nice people who are respectful,’’ said Gilchrist. “Quite frequently, these writers are unappreciated even within the music business. We’re glad to provide a listening environment where they can play, and it’s not background music. It’s living music that professes emotions and feelings that all of us have, but very few of us know how to express.’’
Jason Aldean and Thompson Square are among Nashville stars that played the festival before their careers took off. Both Billboard and American Songwriters magazines have recognized the granddaddy of songwriter festivals, and it’s been called one of the Top 20 Events by the Southeast Tourism Society.
Dean Dillon, who has written 50 songs performed by the legendary George Strait, is a member of the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame, will again participate this year.
Songwriting guests also include Jim McBride, whose songs have been hits for Alan Jackson, Conway Twitty and Tammy Cochran, and Austin Church, whose songs have been recorded by Jimmy Buffett and Lyle Lovett.
Most shows are free; a few venues charge a modest cover fee.
The festival is named after the late Frank Brown, who was night watchman at the Flora-Bama for 28 years before retiring at age 91.
Kick-off Parties Nov. 7 at Sports Bar, Fin & Fork
Local kick-off parties are scheduled from 6-9 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 7 at Perdido Key Sports Bar on Perdido Key and The Fin & Fork in Orange Beach. An East meets West party will start around 9:30 p.m. at The Flora-Bama.
Tribute to Larry Butler scholarship fundraiser Nov. 9
An Evening with Dean Dillon – a tribute to Larry Butler concert will be held on Friday, Nov. 9 at 7 p.m. at Vinyl Music Hall, located at 2 S. Palafox St. in Pensacola Proceeds from the $30 tickets go to the Larry Butler Memorial Music Fund at the University of West Florida. Nashville hit songwriters Brice Long and Phillip White are supporting acts.
Miller leads free songwriting workshop Nov. 10
A free songwriting workshop featuring Brian White will be held on Nov. 10 beginning at 1 p.m. at Phoenix X Condominiums Meeting Room/29756 (located just west of Flora-Bama). Enjoy a class with Brian White, who has had 16 no. 1 hit songs. Then spend the afternoon playing for one of Nashville’s best song evaluators, Bruce Miller. Bruce has evaluated over 14,000 songs.
Youth Showcase Nov. 14 at Cultural Center
The FBISF Youth Showcase will be held on Wednesday, Nov 14 from 10:30 a.m.–1:30 p.m. at the City of Gulf Shores Cultural Center on County Rd. 6. The showcase and seminar bring select middle and high school students together with professional songwriters to discuss the art and business of songwriting. Sponsored by Lulu’s and the City of Gulf Shores.
Autism Awareness Night Nov. 14 at Sunset Cork Room
The Annual FBISF Autism Awareness Night is Wednesday, Nov 14 from 6 – 9:45 p.m. at the Sunset Cork Room in Gulf Shores. This promises to be a night filled with great music for a great cause. And many songwriters look forward to participating.
Tribute to C.J. Watson Nov. 16 art Flora-Bama
The C.J. Watson Memorial Tribute will be held on Friday, Nov 16 from 1 – 3 p.m. in the Flora-Bama Main Room. Director of Education for the Pensacola Beach Songwriters Fest and a Flora-Bama regular, C.J. played lead guitar in the first rock band to tour China. A winner of the Kerrville New Folk Songwriting Award (along with Steve Earle, Towns Van Zandt and Lyle Lovett), C.J. has had songs included in award winning movies and TV shows and even video games. Comfortable writing and playing everything from jazz to blue grass, he was once a pre-med at Indiana University.
Freddy Powers & Waylon book signings Nov. 17
Freddy Powers’ wife Catherine, and Waylon Jennings’ son Jerry will be at the Flora-Bama on Saturday, Nov 17 at 2 p.m. to sign copies of their respective books, “The Spree of 83” and “Waylon – Tales of My Outlaw Dad.” Powers ‘ book recounts Freddy Powers’ longtime friendship and collaboration with Merle Haggard.
Born when Waylon was only nineteen, Terry Jennings came of age just as Waylon’s career hit the stratosphere. Terry dropped out of high school and joined his dad on tour, and the two became more like brothers than father and son. On the road, they toured with legends like Nelson, Johnny Cash, Kris Kristofferson, and Jessi Colter, Waylon’s fourth and final wife. Together father and son led a hard-partying lifestyle centered around music, women, and drugs.
Waylon’s success–critical acclaim, bestselling albums, sold-out tours, and even TV stardom on The Dukes of Hazzard–was at times eclipsed by his demons, three divorces, crippling debt, and a depression that Terry traces to the premature death of Buddy Holly.
Inside the Industry seminar Nov. 17 at Phoenix X
A free seminar titled “Inside the Industry” will be held on Saturday, Nov 17 from 10 a.m. – noon, and 1 – 3 p.m. at the Phoenix x Condo (next to Flora-Bama) meeting room. Learn about booking, publishing, film/tv and more. The panel of experts includes Lou Spoltore, V.P. of three music companies and Sheree’ Spoltore, founder & president of Global Songwriters Connection. Nancy Peacock, founder & owner of Washington Street Publishing, is also on the panel.
Gilchrist to host Nov. 17 Friends Missed showcase
The annual salute to songwriter friends who are no longer with us will be held on Saturday, Nov. 17 from 2 – 5:30 p.m. in the Flora-Bama Main Room. Hosted by FBISF founder Joe Gilchrist and Rusty Budde.
FBISF alumni who have passed include Larry Butler, Wayne Carson, Todd Cerney, Hank Cochran, Bill Clampit, Richard Fagan, Joey Feek, Mike Fincher, Flash Flanagan, Lorna Flowers, Larry Henley, David Johnson, Kacey Jones, Red Lane, Billy Earl McCllelland, Rusty McHugh, Wayne Mills, Mickey Newbury, Jody Payne, Carey Pitts, Freddy Powers, Curly Putman, Clyde Smith, Dave Watkins, C.J. Watson, Bryan Wheeler, Larry Jon Wilson and many others.
“Throughout the years, we have been fortunate to have these people visit and live in our area,’’ Gilchrist said. “They have helped us use music to make the world a better place. These friends will always have a place in our hearts and memories. They are gone but never forgotten.’’
Bluegrass Gospel Concert Nov. 18 in Gulf Shores
The FBISF Bluegrass Gospel Concert will be held on Sunday, Nov 18 from 2 – 3:30 p.m. at St. Andrew by the Sea Community Church in Gulf Shores. The bluegrass themed gospel concert is free and everyone in the community is encouraged to attend, as these songwriters create beautiful, inspiring music together and separately. The church is located at 17263 Fort Morgan Rd. in Gulf Shores. The Flora-Bama Church will also feature gospel music at both its 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. services in the ‘Bama tent on Nov. 11.
Artworks hosts evening of art & music Nov. 13
Artworks Studio & Gallery on Perdido Key will host an evening of art & music with FBISF regulars Nick Branch, Gove Scrivenor and Mac Walter on Nov. 13 from 6:30 – 8:30 p.m.. The gallery is located at Villagio, 13700 Perdido Key Dr on Perdido Key.
• Artworks Studio and Gallery
13700 Perdido Key Drive, Pensacola
• Bayes Southern Bar & Grill
4673 Wharf Parkway West Orange Beach
• Big Beach Brewing Co.
300 E. 24th Ave Gulf Shores
• Bill-E’s Old 27 Grill
19992 U.S. Highway 181, Fairhope
• Buena Vista Coastal RV Resort
23601 Perdido Beach Blvd. Orange Beach
• Coastal Arts Center of Orange Beach
26389 Canal Road Orange Beach
• Fin & Fork
24131 Perdido Beach Blvd, Orange Beach
• Flora-Bama Church
17401 Perdido Key Drive Perdido Key
• Flora-Bama Dome Stage
17401 Perdido Key Dr, Pensacola
• Flora-Bama Main Room
17401 Perdido Key Dr, Pensacol
• Flora-Bama Ole River Grill
17400 Perdido Beach Blvd, Perdido Key
• Flora-Bama Tent Stage
17401 Perdido Key Dr, Pensacola
• Flora-Bama Yacht Club
17350 Perdido Key Drive, Perdido Key
• Frog Pond at Blue Moon Farm
• From the Ground Up Community Garden
501 N. Hayne St, Pensacola
• Hub Stacey’s at The Point
5851 Galvez Road, Pensacola
• Island Time Daiquiri’s @ The Wharf
4830 Wharf Parkway, Orange Beach
• Legends Bar and Grille
Perdido Bay Golf, 1 Doug Ford Dr., P-cola
• Lillian’s Pizza
14514 Perdido Key Drive, Pensacola
• Lucy Buffett’s LuLu’s
200 E. 25th Street, Gulf Shores
• New Malibu Lounge
1000 Gulf Beach Highway Pensacola
• Perdido Beach Resort
27200 Perdido Beach Blvd. Orange Beach
• Perdido Key Sports Bar & Restaurant
13583 Perdido Key Drive Pensacola
• Pirates Cove
6664 County Road 95 Elberta
• Purple Parrot Tiki Bar
13555 Perdido Key Drive Pensacola
• Seville Quarter
130 East Government Street, Pensacola
• St. Andrew By The Sea Community Church
17263 Fort Morgan Rd., Gulf Shores
• Sunset Cork Room Restaurant & Wine Bar
225 E 16th Ave, Gulf Shores
• Tacky Jacks, Gulf Shores
240 E. 24th Avenue, Gulf Shores
• The Crab Trap at Perdido Key
16495 Perdido Key Dr Pensacola
• The Oar House on Bayou Chico
1000 S Pace Blvd., Pensacola
• The Point Restaurant
14340 Innerarity Point Rd., Pensacola
• Tin Top Restaurant
6232 Bon Secour Hwy., Bon Secour
• Vinyl Music Hall
2 South Palafox St., Pensacola