OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - It's a match made in heaven: songwriters and people who love to hear them sing.
The seventh annual Mississippi Songwriters Festival is big and getting bigger: eight venues and about 70 musicians of all levels and from all over the country.
"These writers go back and say what a cool time they have and we're going to be getting more and more professional writers," said Andy Dalgo with the Mississippi Songwriters Alliance. "Plus, a lot of writers from down here, they're almost there now. So they're going to get a bigger name."
Among them is first time festival performer and Pascagoula native Brent Anderson, who moved to Nashville and landed his first publishing deal at 15 years old.
Anderson got a start performing his songs at similar festivals.
"If you write songs and you only playing for your mama, of course your mama's going to love it," Anderson said. "So playing them out and places like this - especially in these intimate situations - you can watch people's reaction and you can see what works and what doesn't. And there's no better test than a live audience."
Paul Stauter of Gautier came to see his granddaughter perform, but enjoys all of the music.
"This is where the grass roots of singing and song writing begin," he said. "We're really enjoy the atmosphere - the intimacy - and seeing them up close and personal and seeing their raw talent."
Ed Kontur loves to perform his work, and festivals like this one keeps hopes alive.
"It's just tremendous," Kontur said. "And it opens up a new world for you. I've got friends now that I never would have had except for music. Music draws us together."
The festival continues through Sunday from 5:45 p.m. to midnight.
Venues include the Mary C., Salvetti's, Boots & Spurs, Mosaic Tapas Bar, Murky Waters, Off the Hook, Tom's Pizzeria and Julep Room.
For more information, check out the website, www.mssongwritersfestival.com/.