“This year has been bigger than ever” | Mississippi Songwriters Festival reaches its finale

Published: Sep. 18, 2022 at 8:54 PM CDT
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OCEAN SPRINGS, Miss. (WLOX) - In small spaces, the relationship between musician and audience is magical.

This is especially true at the Mississippi Songwriters Festival.

“In Mississippi, they can be themselves,” said Scott Stradtner of the Mississippi Songwriters Alliance. “They get to communicate and work with people they don’t normally get to do that with, and they’re able to come perform to an accepting audience in great venues like we have in Ocean Springs.”

Jim Douglas of Ocean Springs has been to the festival before, and three things keep bringing him back.

“Great music, great people and great songs,” he said. “They’re singing their own songs, it’s what they’ve written. It’s from the heart.”

That’s been the key to the Mississippi Songwriters Festival success, and this year has been huge.

“It is really back,” Stradtner said. “The reception from the city of Ocean Springs and from the vendors and from the public has been amazing. This year has been bigger than ever. It really felt like everything was really clicking on cylinders here in the town and with the public itself. The songwriters are so happy to be here.””

So are those who appreciate them.

“It’s like, I just love music,” said first-timer Butch Horner of Gulfport. “So, this gives me an opportunity to meet some of the people that write the music.”

More than 120 singer/songwriters performed on 12 stages over the weekend.

Among those performers was Dave Pahanish, who has written hits for Jimmy Wayne, Toby Keith, Tim McGraw and Keith Urban.

He’s played at the festival for three years.

“I love the area, for one,” he said. “And, of course, I love the people. George Cumbest, the whole gang, very accommodating. It’s just a nice, little songwriting community.”

His advice for any songwriter?

“Truth. Stay true to who you are.”

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