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Music – It can change your mood, tell a story and express how you feel when you’re struggling to find your own words. In order for music do to that, it not only needs the right melody but it also needs the right lyrics.

In society, we glorify the stars, the ones up on stage, in the spotlight. We give little thought to where the lyrics that move us even come from. Yes, to be a performer you have to have talent (well, most of the time), a presence and the ability to connect with your fans. But behind every great performer, is great songwriters (Once in a while they are both).

That’s why I love going to the Island Hopper Songwriter Fest. It shines the spotlight on the creative geniuses behind the songs we love. Thanks to this festival, you experience the raw talent of these individuals and you learn the stories behind those familiar tunes. It’s a ten-day jam session that spans throughout Captiva Island, Fort Myers Beach and downtown Fort Myers.

It’s basically having Nashville in our own back yard – and it’s pretty freakin’ awesome!

This is the 5th year the Island Hopper Songwriter Fest has come to our area and it’s slowly becoming a family tradition (Hey! Isn’t that a song?!) when RumShopRyan’s parents come to town.

This year, we attended the part of the festival that was on Captiva Island. We arrived at the Keylime Bistro at what seemed a little too early, but in reality, it couldn’t have been better timing.

Keylime Bistro, Captiva Island, Island Hopper Songwriter Fest

Keylime Bistro, Captiva Island, Island Hopper Songwriter Fest

We grabbed a table at 1:30pm and the first performer I wanted to see didn’t come on until 3:00pm. But it was totally worth the wait because we were fortunate enough to see two AMAZING artists – Aaron Barker and David Pahanish. Both have written number one hits for some of country music’s biggest stars.

Aaron Barker is the man behind George Strait hits such as “Easy Come, Easy Go”, “Baby Blue”, “Love Without End, Amen” and “If You Ain’t Lovin’, You Ain’t Livin’.” His songs have also been recorded by Clay Walker, Aaron Tippin, Lonestar and Willie Nelson.

David Pahanish has written songs for Toby Keith, Tim McGraw and Keith Urban.

I’m telling you guys, if you’re a music lover, there is nothing more inspiring than seeing the magic behind the songs you know and love.

Island Hopper Songwriter Fest, Captiva Island, Keylime Bistro

Keylime Bistro, Captiva Island, Island Hopper Songwriter Fest

Snagging a picture with Aaron Barker.

After the gentlemen finished their set, Heidi Newfield took the stage. She’s a badass, with a soulful voice and can play a mean harmonica. You might remember her from the group Trick Pony.

Keylime Bistro, Island Hopper Songwriter Fest, Heidi Newfield, Captiva Island

Heidi Newfield, Island Hopper Songwriter Fest, Captiva Island

The drinks were flowing and we were having such a great time, we decided to stay at Keylime Bistro for the third act. It turned out to be Chris Barron, the lead singer from the Spin Doctors (Fun Fact: The song “Little Miss Can’t Be Wrong” is about Barron’s stepmother.) and Phil O’Donnell – a songwriter who has many number one hits under his guitar, including Blake Shelton’s hit song, “Doin’ What She Likes.”

We couldn’t believe how fast four hours passed by. Time flies when your with good company and listening to awe-inspiring musicians.

Captiva Island, Island Hopper Songwriter Fest

The Island Hopper Songwriter Fest gets bigger and better every year. With over 50 performers that participate, it’s impossible to see them all. At least with the festival’s new app, you can find information on the artists and make sure you don’t miss out on your favorites.

Though I love everything about this festival; the music, the talent, the scenery and the intimate venues…there’s just one thing that bums me out a little every year.

Back when I lived in Nashville, there was a duo I would see quite often. Ironically enough, the first time I saw them perform was at a songwriters night. They were funny, entertaining and extremely talented. Once you hear Steevie Steeves’ strong, sultry voice, I think you’ll feel the same.

With that said, every year, when it’s festival time (September), I hope to see this talented duo on the schedule, but sadly, it never happens. So I’m using this platform to beg the powers that be (BMI, Lee County Tourist Development Council, iheartmedia or Cat Country 107.1) to PLEAAAASE, PLEASE BRING TOWNE TO OUR TOWN AT THE NEXT ISLAND HOPPER SONGWRITER FEST. This music loving, island hopping, beach girl thinks their act would be a great addition to the festivities!

Island Hopper Songwriter Fest, Towne, Nashville, Floirda


The festival is still going on, so if you haven’t taken advantage of this wonderful opportunity to see some amazing acts, there is still time! Sunday is the last day for music and fun in the sun!


Castaway Crystal

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About the Author: Castaway Crystal

I'm a beach bunny hopping from island to island with camera in hand. I love experiencing all the Caribbean has to offer and sharing it with you! Conch fritter connoisseur, animal and nature lover, and RumShopRyan’s salty first mate. To learn more, visit our About Us Page.