Florida Gulf Coast islands prepare for a country music takeover

The first Songwriter Fest 26 – 28 September 2014

This autumn, Florida’s Gulf Coast will become a hub for country music as The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel celebrates its first Songwriter Fest. From 26 – 28 September on Captiva Island and from 3rd-5th October on Fort Myers Beach, boats, hotels, restaurants, private homes and even iconic artist’s Robert Rauschenberg’s island home will become venues for dozens of free performances from best-selling country singers.

The locations are ideal for a music festival with Captiva’s castaway island atmosphere, its picture postcard beaches, lush greenery and development restrictions. The seven mile white sand stretch of Fort Myers Beach has some of the most spectacular sunsets in Florida and the beachfront venues are perfect for a sundowner and live country music.

Venues range from beachfront English pub, the Mucky Duck on Captiva to the Pink Shell Resort on the sugary white sands of Fort Myers Beach. Most excitingly Robert Rauschenberg’s estate on Captiva Island is being opened to the public for the first time during the Songwriter Fest and a performance will be hosted there. Rauschenberg is one of the world’s most celebrated Abstract Expressionists whose work paved the way for the Pop Art movement and he had his home and studio on Captiva Island for 40 years. The performances will be easily accessible with complimentary trolley rides between some of the venues.

The festival has an incredible line up of some of America’s best country singers and songwriters including Dean Dillon, whose prolific career boasts 26 songs that exceed one million performances and a total of 31 BMI Country and Pop Awards. To further attest to the sheer quantity of quality tunes penned by Dillon throughout the years, consider that George Strait alone has recorded 54 of his songs. BMI also celebrated the extraordinary songwriting career of Dillon by naming him a BMI Icon, awarded to “songwriters who have had a unique and indelible influence on generations of music makers.” Dillon joins a list of past honorees that include Tom T. Hall, Kris Kristofferson, Willie Nelson, Hank Williams, Jr., Merle Haggard, Dolly Parton and Loretta Lynn. Highly acclaimed country and folk singer Kevn Kinney will also be performing. He is most widely known as the founder and frontman of the Atlanta based band Drivin N Cryin and he has also performed or collaborated with the Allman Brothers’ Warren Haynes, REM and The Who. Details of other performers can be seen at: www.fortmyers-sanibel.com/island-hopper/artists/

Getting there: Kuoni offers seven nights at South Seas Island Resort on Captiva (where some of the performances will be held) from £1,471 per person including flights with British Airways from Gatwick and fully inclusive car hire with sat nav. South Seas is a 330-acre four-star resort at the northern end of Captiva Island with two miles of private white sand beach and accommodation ranging from one-bedroom suites to villas. www.kuoni.co.uk 0844 488 0312.

For further information on The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel, please visit www.fortmyers-sanibel.com

To read the Cultural Voyager review of Fort Myers and Sanibel click here…