KEY WEST, Fla. — The five-day Key West Songwriters Festival wraps up Sunday night and when it is completed, more than 200 performing songwriters will have staged more than 50 shows in the island city
Several thousand people gathered on Key West’s Duval Street Saturday night for a “main stage” highlight concert starring chart-topping RCA recording artist Jake Owen. Hailed for his exhilarating performances and easygoing country style, Owen rocketed to stardom with the 2011 album “Barefoot Blue Jean Night.” His hit singles include “Beachin’,” “Real Life” and the current “American Country Love Song.”
“I love coming down here because, as a fan of music, I’m a fan of all these songwriters,” said Owen shortly before taking the stage. “When you see someone who’s so talented play a song that they wrote or created, it’s like art — it lives forever.”
The festival also featured stars including Texas songwriter and entertainer Robert Earl Keen; Liz Rose, acclaimed for co-writing smashes with pop sensation Taylor Swift; Jack Ingram, known for the summertime anthem “Barefoot and Crazy”; and Rhett Akins, who has penned 20 number-one singles.
Performers shared stages at Key West bars, restaurants, theaters, resort beaches, poolsides and even an excursion catamaran at sunset. Now in its 21st year, the festival has become an annual tradition for many leading country and pop music hitmakers.
“I think the amazing thing that keeps bringing these writers back year after year is just the ambiance of Key West and the great camaraderie they have down here together,” said festival president and founder Charlie Bauer.