Songwriters serve up Blast on the Bay

The Blast On The Bay Songwriters Festival entered its second
decade in fine fashion last weekend.

The 11th annual event, considered the premier music event in
Gulf County, came to a close Sunday night at Indian Pass Raw Bar.

“The 2021 Blast on the Bay was a huge success,” said Lynn
Marshall, one of the organizers. Hit country songwriters came from all over to
headline the eight venues in Port St. Joe, St. Joe Beach, Windmark Beach and
Indian Pass. Veteran songwriters Brett Jones, Earl Bud Lee, and Aaron Barker
all let the crowd know that the people of Port St Joe are the best and that
makes this festival  their favorite.

“Many of our writers who have fallen in love with Port St.
Joe have bought property here and can’t wait to spend more time writing music
in the area,” she said.

The event welcomed songwriters straight from the streets of
Nashville, who have written hits for superstars like Garth Brooks, Faith Hill
and George Strait.

“We all had an inspiration to bring good music and then when
we had the opportunity to meet up with some people and to have the opportunity
to bring these Nashville songwriters in, it just came together 13 years ago,”
said co-creator, Steve Kerigan.

Tim Buppert, a singer-songwriter who has performed in the
songwriters festival for 10 years, said it’s nice to meet new people away from
the hustle and bustle of Nashville.

“We love playing the songs that we’ve written,” Buppert
said. “In Nashville, there are songwriters everywhere doing it so it’s like ‘Oh
you’re a songwriter? Yeah, so what.” so we have to go way out of town to places
where people think we are a big deal.”

David Warriner co-created the event and said it is great for
the city’s economy.

“Everybody benefits from it,” he said. “Financially it’s a
nice boom. We have a lot of visitation here for this. People travel. I talked
to somebody the other day who came from California to participate in this event
so they come from all over.”

The event was canceled in 2018 and 2020 due to Hurricane
Michael and the COVID-19 pandemic, and Warriner said it’s great to be back.

“Music is just an elixir for the soul and this is what we
bring,” he said. “I don’t play the guitar and I don’t sing but they bring that
talent to us and that’s what it does for this community.”

WMBB contributed to this report.

Meet the Editor

Wendy Weitzel, The Star’s digital editor, joined the news outlet in August 2021, as a reporter covering primarily Gulf County.

Prior to then, she interned for Oklahoma-based news wire service Gaylord News and for Oklahoma City-based online newspaper during her four years at the University of Oklahoma, from which she graduated in May with degrees in online journalism and political science.

While at OU, Weitzel was selected as Carnegie-Knight News21 Investigative Fellow among 30 top journalism students from around the country. She also was senior editor managing a 12-person newsroom in coordination with Oklahoma Watch, a non-profit news organization in eastern Oklahoma.

Wendy Weitzel The Star Digital Editor

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