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Key West Songwriters Festival 2024

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The 28TH Annual Key West Songwriters Festival returns to the warm shores of what we call paradise. The ever-so-talented singer-songwriters will be appearing across Key West from May 1st through the 5th.

The dynamic and gifted list of performers at this years festival is headlined by Cole Swindell, winner of the Academy of Country Music’s New Artist of the Year in 2015 and the Country Music Association’s New Artist of the Year in 2016. His biggest single, “She Had Me at Heads Carolina,” was number one on the Country Airplay charts and certified as Platinum three times by the Recording Industry Association of America.

Dylan Marlowe along with the Heartwreckers will get things rolling on Wednesday, May 1st at the Sunset Pier Kickoff Party. Throughout the festival, no matter where you travel across the island, you will likely be in earshot of some of the most awesome singers entertaining in both large and small settings.


Stroll down the same streets of Key West that Jimmy Buffet called home back in the ‘70s. And keep your camera ready for those Key West chickens and roosters!!! Meandering in this town is an art. Venues are located nearly everywhere, in theatres, bars, restaurants, gardens, and tropical beach front locales.

So many places where you can chill to the sounds of well known, and up-and-coming musicians, (many will soon become well known). So grab your favorite cold beverage, and enjoy the laid-back vibes of great music at this year’s festival.


Along with the wealth of talent that is performing, Key West has an unmatched ambiance for both performers and festival-goers. It is rare that music lovers can get this close to the artists in so many locations. While a select few events have a fee, most performances are free to the public. Just walk up and enjoy. The weather, the island views, and the lifestyle just add to the experience. 

Besides Cole Swindell, the Heartwreckers and Dylan Marlowe, here are just a few of the over 100 artists you can hear and see, most within just a few feet of the stage.

Mackenzie Carpenter

This is what we said about Mackenzie last year…”She may not be a household name…YET. But the Key West Songwriters are honored to have Mackenzie performing at this year’s festival. After all, that is what this festival is for, getting more exposure for up-and-coming artists, and she is coming on strong."

Well, turns out we were right, and she is back again this year. The spunky, outspoken, and talented singer-songwriter was born in Athens, Georgia, now working out of Nashville, Tennessee. She learned how to sing at her local church, her two older brothers taught her how to play guitar and her father was an inspiration for her to begin writing songs. 

A proud graduate of Belmont University, her first cut as a songwriter, ‘Villain’ debuted #1 on iTunes All Genre and Country iTunes. Mackenzie has opened for acts such as Jake Owens, Ryan Hurd, and plays at venues such as The Listening Room and The Foundry. 

She has performed at the Grand Old Opry and opened for artists like Miranda Lambert, Jake Owen and Craig Cambell. With her engaging stage presence and self-described 'tacky country vibe’, be sure to catch her during the festival.

Dylan Altman

Dylan is a native of the state of New Jersey who has been writing songs in Nashville since 1995. He has been the co-writer on several #1 hits including "Watch the Wind Blow By" performed by Tim McGraw "Barefoot Blue Jean Night" by Jake Owen, and most recently Jason Aldean’s “Take A Little Ride.” He has also had songs recorded by Trace Adkins, Eric Paslay, Chase Bryant, the Eli Young Band, and others. 

Dylan co-hosts an annual Benefit Concert for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. He is a huge supporter of Musicians On Call which brings live and recorded music to patients in healthcare facilities who are undergoing treatment or are unable to leave their beds. 

Bridgette Tatum

Bridgette is a native of Florence, South Carolina who now resides outside of Nashville. She co-wrote the song “She’s Country”, which was recorded and released by country music superstar Jason Aldean. In 2009 that song was the Most Played Song on Country radio stations in America. Bridgette has written songs performed by artists Randy Houser, Kristy Lee Cook, and Gretchen Wilson. 

She has released her own albums and her song “Loud” was chosen as the official Theme Song for the Atlantic Coast Conference’s 2010 Football season. She was named best producer in 2019 and 2020 in the Nashville Industry Music Awards (NIMA).  She has two horses that she adores, Buttermilk and Jack, and loves fishing.

Bridgette also works with The Charley Foundation which supports the critical needs of children, including children who are victims of neglect, abuse. those children with a chronic or critical illness; and those who are homeless or in poverty. The Key West Songwriters Festival is proud to have her back performing again this year.

Earl Bud Lee

You may not know his name but we think you will know his work. He co-wrote the song “Friends in Low Places” with Dwayne Blackwell, performed by Garth Brooks and released in 1990. After eight weeks, “Friends in Low Places” topped the charts, and it stayed there for four more weeks… no Garth Brooks concert is complete without a rendition of it. 


The idea for the song came when Earl Bud Lee and some of his songwriting friends were having lunch in a Nashville restaurant. The check came and Earl realized he forgot his money. One of his buddies asked how he was going to pay for the food, and he replied, “Don’t worry, I have friends in low places. I know the cook.”

Later Earl and Blackwell were at a party and began to discuss the “low places” idea again.  They started working on it at the party, writing their ideas on a paper napkin. They pitched the idea to Garth Brooks and, well, the rest is history. 

Earl is not a one-hit-wonder, he co-wrote “One Night at a Time” recorded by country legend George Strait; co-wrote “Who Are You When I’m Not Looking”, recorded by George Strait; and other hits for The Oak Ridge Boys, Loretta Lynn, Tracy Byrd, among so many others.

Lori McKenna

Born in Boston, Lori lived in a musical family and started out writing songs when she was a teenager. As a singer she started creating folk music and as she got older, progressed into pop/rock and country music.


She burst into notoriety in her songwriting career in 2005 when she wrote for country stars like Faith Hill, Keith Urban, and Carrie Underwood. Faith Hill covered three of Lori’s songs on the album “Fireflies” and that heightened her exposure, resulting in a record deal with Warner Brothers. While that deal only lasted a year, she soon got a songwriting publishing deal with Universal Music. 

With Universal Music, several of the songs Lori composed became major hits, including Keith Urban’s “I Want Crazy”, which went to number one on the Billboard’s pop chart, and Little Big Town’s country hit, “Girl Crush” which won the 2015 Grammy Award for Best Country Song. And she followed that up with Tim McGraw’s  “Humble and Kind” as the Best Country Song in 2016.

Lori has a notable collection of solo albums. Her first Grammy-nominated album was “The Bird and the Rifle”, one of the many albums she created with producer David Cobb. 

Her most recent album is titled “1988” after the year she married her husband. Songs revolve around lifelong relationships, her family and the people that she has lost along the way. Produced by David Cobb, not every ending is a happy one, but  does offer its share of nostalgic occasions.


Where and When to See Your Favorites

Click on this link, SCHEDULE | Key West Songwriters Festival, to find out when and where each artist is performing during the festival. Here are a few of the venues, some larger, some more intimate to take in these terrific performers. 

The Green Parrot – The first bar in Key West. This is a historic and legendary location in Key West. Already known for its fine local music, this classic establishment features a huge bar, lots of tables, and seats by the open-air windows both inside and out. Gotta love their motto… ‘No Snivelling’.

Southernmost Beach Resort Beach Party – Here you can sit on the beach or at their outdoor bar/restaurant and enjoy not only the view, but the quality sounds as well. (Maybe get a tan or take a dip in the water while enjoying the music). 

Rams Head Southernmost – One of the newer venues but certainly one of the best. You'll find music going all day and well into the night. This is a terrific place to get up close and personal with the performers. Tip of the cap as well, as Rams Head is one of the major festival sponsors. 

Ocean Key Resort – Sunset Pier – Speaking of a gorgeous view, be sure to stop by here for an awesome setting to listen to great music. Its sunset views are legendary, the Tiki Bar serves delicious drinks and food, and you are always close to the performers. And be sure to capture a nice sunset photo on your phone!!

The Key West Theatre – A superb indoor venue that hosts a number of community theatre events, Rams Head Promotions, and other local events. It is an intimate theatre with a small capacity so if you plan to attend one of the events here, get those tickets early. There isn’t a bad seat in the house!!!! (Events here do require tickets to get in, check for pricing of each event). 

We could go on and on, there is Irish Kevin’s, The Backyard. Hard Rock Café, Rick’s Durty Harry’s, Hog’s Breath Saloon, Island Dog’s, Blue Heaven, Smokin’ Tuna, and sooooooo many more, (like Schooner Wharf below). You will probably hear the music playing as you walk off the plane when you arrive. 

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