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Opelika's Songwriters Festival features local artists and Grammy award winners

Opelika's Songwriters Festival features local artists and Grammy award winners

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The second Annual Opelika Songwriters Festival returns this weekend after a COVID hiatus with performances in seven different venues in downtown Opelika.

This three-day festival will feature 40 singer songwriters including Grammy Award winning artists as well as local artists.

John Paul White, half of the Grammy Award-winning duo The Civil Wars, will be coming to Opelika for the event and performing solo. Some of the other Grammy award winners who will be making appearances include Shawn Mullins, who wrote the hit song “Lullaby,” Leigh Nash, the lead vocalist for the pop band Sixpence None the Richer, and Dan Navarro, who wrote “We Belong,” which was a hit for Pat Benatar in 1984.

On Sunday, a main stage will be set up on First Avenue for headliners, including Sugarland’s Kristian Bush’s new trio Dark Water and the husband and wife duo The War and Treaty.

Rock, pop, country and folk music are some of the genres that will be played at the festival.

On Friday, the music starts at 5 p.m. with Abe Partridge at Rock N’Roll Pinball and wraps up with 9:30 p.m. shows featuring Mindy Smith and Jeff Black at Eighth & Rail and John Paul White and Adam Hood at John Emerald Distillery.

Saturday, the schedule begins at 10:30 p.m. with brunch with Larry Mitchell at Heritage House and ends with Mullins at 9:30 p.m. at John Emerald Distillery and Katie Martin and Haraway Brothers at Eighth & Rail at 10:30 p.m.

Sunday begins at 10:30 a.m. with Nicole Chillemi Jazz Trio at Heritage House, as well as a VIP brunch by chef Chris Wilton and an “in the round” concert with Mullins, Sarah Lee Guthrie and Dan Navarro at Resting Pulse. The day, and the festival, end with Dark Water at 2 p.m. and The War and Treaty at 4 p.m.

For a full schedule, go to

Rob Slocumb and his wife Jen founded the Opelika Songwriters festival and run The Sound Wall, a studio and event space. Together they produce the festival along with Russell Carter, owner of the company RCAM.

Slocumb said there is going to be a long list of local singer songwriters performing Friday through Sunday.

Auburn High School senior Posie Hooks, who has written more than 40 songs, will be performing at the festival and plans to play her song “If My Suitcase Could Talk.”

“I bought this old suitcase at an estate sale and I started thinking of all the places I’ve taken it, all the places it’s been that I don’t even know about and then about all the expectations it’s been filled with…and it just seemed like a song,” Hooks said in a press release.

Slocumb said that last year the festival had a student songwriting competition where the winner, Hooks, would have the opportunity to be showcased at the festival on Saturday, but two weeks before 2020’s festival, COVID-19 hit.

“I was so disappointed, but it’s OK because it gave me time to write more songs,” Hooks said in a press release.

Because of the cancelation, Hooks will be performing this year instead. The other student in the Student Showcase is Payton Kashdan of Decatur High School in Georgia.

“From the time COVID hit until just a couple of months ago we haven’t had anybody here in the studio,” Slocumb said. “We went from having events and people here all the time to 15 months of having nobody here, so this weekend is going to be extra special.”

Slocumb is looking forward to reconnecting with others.

“You can already sense the energy. Everyone is really excited and the artists are excited to be back in front of people again,” he said.

The seven venues in downtown Opelika are all within walking distance and they include John Emerald Distillery, Resting Pulse Brewery, The Heritage House Bed and Breakfast, Eight and Rail, Irish Bred Pub, Twice Baked and Rock ‘N Roll Pinball.

Each venue will have a listening room and seating.

“It’s not like a traditional festival where you stand in front of a stage all day,” Slocumb said. “Having these seven venues is a great way to experience Opelika and spend time downtown.”

Purchasing the festival wristband pass will allow access to each venue so you can hop to each location to see different artists.

Single-day passes and three-day passes for the whole weekend are available. The box office location to purchase wristbands is The Sound Wall in downtown Opelika. Tickets can also be purchased on the Opelika Songwriters Festival website then you can pick up your wristband at The Sound Wall.

Purchased online, one-day passes cost $70.01 including tax and fees, and a three-day, weekend pass is $146.32.

VIP passes are also available for Sunday or the whole weekend.


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