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Zombies and Legends in the Making… 2018 30A Fest Recap

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By Nikki Hedrick


The close of the 30A Songwriters Festival is always dream-like. So many moments are crammed into three days that assembling a highlight reel isn’t an easy task. Everywhere you look, there’s talent—from the young finding their way to the seasoned performers who simply make you feel honored to be in their presence.


It’s nearly impossible to see everyone. I hope Patty Griffin, Gary Louris and countless others will return for another round, as I sadly didn’t make it to everyone on my must-see list.


Mary Gauthier is an artist who remained on my must-see list throughout her numerous 30A Songwriter Festival appearances over the years, and this time it finally happened. With a dry wit, an easy smile, and stories that you wish would never end, Gauthier is captivating. I feel foolish for not having seen her perform sooner.


On the other spectrum is Grayson Capps, a performer my mom and I have gone out of our way to see so many times that I no longer have an accurate count. This particular night, he was taking audience requests and singing songs from his new album Scarlett Roses. His wife Trina Shoemaker, best known for working behind the scenes as a producer, joined Capps on stage singing backing vocals and playing invisible percussion. Best invisible tambourine solo ever.


Let’s talk about The Zombies. You think songwriter festival and you think of a serious affair, but The Zombies added an extra dose of festive. An audience full of smiling faces and dancing feet spanned those who grew up with the band to those who didn’t realize who was behind those iconic songs. Electricity.


Then there is the scene-stealer, the name I heard everyone repeat throughout the weekend—The War and Treaty. Their set was every bit of magic as we hoped it would be. The stuff of legends in the making.


And it wouldn’t be a roundup without mentioning the rebel Steve Earle. I’m going to fall on my sword and admit I only had passing knowledge of Earle—I knew a few songs but didn’t expect just how much I’d utterly fall in love with him as a performer and as a human.


Honorable mentions include Heart’s Ann Wilson (That voice! That power!), Dan Navarro (you can’t watch him perform and not be happy), and Gabriel Kelley (swampy-country goodness).

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