Blast On The Bay Songwriters Festival brings Nashville to Port St. Joe

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PORT ST. JOE, Fla. (WMBB) – Country music fans had quite the weekend in Port St. Joe.

The 11th annual Blast On The Bay Songwriters Festival officially came to a close Sunday night at Indian Pass Raw Bar.

The festival is heralded by some as the premier music event in Gulf County.

The event welcomes songwriters that come straight from the streets of Nashville and have written hits for country music 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 is a singer-songwriter who has been performing in the songwriters festival for ten years. He said it’s nice to meet new people here 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 go other places to 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,” Warriner 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,” Warriner 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.”

Warriner said he is excited to see the rate at which Mexico Beach is rebuilding and hopes the event can once again have venues in that area as well.

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