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Thursday, December 22nd, 2011

Opening Remarks - The Emerald Coast is Ready to Rock in 2012

We’re giddy about two HUGE early-2012 music events, first off the third 30A Songwriters Festival featured on our cover and taking place at numerous venues Jan. 13-15.

The schedule hasn’t been completely nailed down yet, and we had to put this issue to bed almost a month prior, so none of that info appears in these pages. But you can visit www.30asongwritersfestival.com for up-to-the-minute details on who/where/when. on another great site for music fans, noisetrade.com.

Shannon Whitworth. In this issue’s The Beat, Ed Jack of Central Square Records earmarks Whitworth as a 2012 performer to check out. Once you hear Water Bound, released in August, I’m sure you’ll agree.

Brian White and Justice. Livin’ in the Sight of Water is contemporary Christian music that occasionally gets a Def Leppard vibe going. Somehow it works.

There are hundreds of performers scheduled to appear, and it’s a lot of “work” to keep up with them all. I went to the Web site’s artist page to familiarize myself with a lot of the talent (as well as sharing the links on our Facebook page), decided to start at both ends—A Fragile Tomorrow (which should really be under “F,” no?) and Miles Zuniga, then work my way to the middle.

At press time, I’d gotten as far as Joseph Arthur and Brian White.

If you use Spotify—and I highly recommend the full-on $10-a-month version—you can sample tons of albums in their entirety. Check out my 2012 30A Songwriters Festival playlist, too, under “Chris Manson.” Thanks to Spotify, I’ve gotten to know and love quite a few new (to me) musicians, including:

Antigone Rising. An all-girl band whose latest album, 23 Red, was made possible by the ubiquitous Kickstarter.

Brooke Annibale. Don’t let the comparisons to John Mayer scare you away. Her Silence Worth Breaking is a treat.

Joseph Arthur. Prolific writer and performer shines on The Graduation Ceremony and has collaborated with Peter Gabriel and Michael Stipe, among others.

Matthew Mayfield. He performed here over the summer and will also ring in the New Year at the Village of Baytowne Wharf. His 2011 album Now You’re Free was recently a featured FREE download.

Among the new-to-30A musicians I’m excited about seeing—the Bangles (although various members have appeared at previous festivals) and especially Jim Lauderdale, whose Reason and Rhyme is one of the best bluegrass records in ages. Good enough to get him on the cover, even if his people didn’t return my calls.

I’m excited about some of my favorite people coming back, not the least of whom is Chas Sandford. His Facebook posts were convincing enough to make me reconsider Don Johnson’s ‘80s album Heartbeat. Sandford produced a lot of good commercial records back in the day, one of my favorites being Chicago 19. These days, Sandford is riding high on his 2010 album Wag More Bark Less, though I also spotted him playing in Billy Ray Cyrus’ band on The Tonight Show a few months back.

Rodney Crowell and Mary Gauthier are two of the finest people to ever set words to music. Virtually every note they’ve recorded is worth hearing. Crowell made great records in the ‘70s and ‘80s, culminating in 1988’s Diamonds and Dirt, an album that boasted five chart-topping singles. But his recent run of recordings, starting with 2001’s The Houston Kid, has outdone everything that went before.

Gauthier’s latest, The Foundling, is also available in a stripped-down version called The Foundling Alone. Her material is so good that both albums are worth owning.

Matthew Sweet’s Girlfriend was one of three albums I listened to continuously in the early ‘90s, the others being Nirvana’s Nevermind and R.E.M.’s Out of Time. Word around the campfire is Sweet will perform the album in its entirety at the festival. And even if he doesn’t, the new stuff on Modern Art is equally worthy.

Happy to see some of our friends and neighbors on the bill, too, including Dannica Lowery, Kelsey Anna, Bill Garrett, the Forrest Williams Band, Tim Jackson, Kelsey Anna, Marc Harris, Dannica Lowery, Bob Steeno, Donnie Sundal, and Zack Rosicka. Most of them are up for Beachcomber Music Awards this/next year, too, and those who aren’t should have been.

Speaking of which, the list of nominees for Feb. 21’s fourth annual awards fiesta appear in this issue’s The Beat section. Look for more on the awards and nominees in our Jan. 19 issue. In the meantime, make plans to head out to 30A on Martin Luther King Jr. weekend and get ready to fall in love with music again.


Ernie Shillingburg, Shawn Christensen, Jay Barnes, Becky Beran, Jodi Steelundesided, Frost Jones, Maxine Bern, Tabitha lehman, Tricia Becker, Doug Jamison, Amy Carillion, Renee Phillippi, Running Ofthe Bulls, Paul Hunter, Sarah Brazwell, Trisha Chason, BM VR, Robert Harkins, Reggie Neal, Christian Mayes, Caty Wilson, Kyle Melfi, Jamie Diorio, Richard Skopnik, John Fuqua, Janie Russell, Jennifer Schaefer, and Carol Ann Staples are just some of the great people who “like” the new Beachcomber page on Facebook.

If you’re a friend of the old Beachcomber Destin page, please make the switch and drink in up-to-the-minute info, giveaways, videos and much more! We may even put your name in the paper to fill up space.


Jam Night with Blue Lew’s Groove (and anyone else who might turn up) resumes at The Shed BBQ & Blues Joint in Destin, Sunday, Jan. 8. Check out Nora Wixted-Hogue’s online recaps at www.bluelew.com and performance videos at www.youtube.com/beachcomberdestin. Hope to see a lot of fresh faces in 2012!

Beachcomber Editor Chris Manson and his redneck pals from Act4Murder---Jim Downum, Cynthia Bergquist, Kay Yarbrough and Mary Ann Troiano—perform every Friday night at Angler’s Beachside Grill on Okaloosa Island starting in January. For more info, visit www.act4murder.com.