Playing the Keys (Key West, That Is!)

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For a week every spring, the Nashville music business transplants itself to Key West for a big songwriters festival.  It’s such a blast, and it’s actually a really great place to get a lot of business done, even if it’s tinged around the edges with rum.  J I’m very blessed that my publishers at RareSpark Media Group, believe in me enough to invest time, money and energy into bringing me to events like this.  This year, we flew in a few days early and brought along a few co-writers to spend some time writing songs in paradise before the festival kicked off.  Emily Shackelton, Phil Barton, visiting Aussie track-builder Lindsay Rimes and I spent a few days writing a song, getting a pina colada, writing a song, eating some shrimp, writing a song, kayaking the keys at dusk, writing a song, lying in the sun, writing a song, swimming from a boat anchored on a sandbar, writing a song…etc.  What a hardship!

Then the festival started, and what a week it was!  I got to perform several times with my co-writers, but the best part was being an audience member at some really cool shows.  I soaked up music by some of my songwriting heroes (I always LOVE me some Matraca Berg).  I watched Sara Evans play her hits on a stage in the middle of Duvall Street, to an audience of bodies packed as far as the eye could see.  I got to hear the band Loving Mary perform one of my songs in one of their first shows ever (trust me, you’re gonna know their name soon because they’re an INCREDIBLE band – I’m talking FLEETWOOD MAC incredible).

One of the highlights of the week was spending a lazy afternoon jamming around the swimming pool with Loving Mary band members Rebecca Lynn Howard, Marti Frederiksen, and fellow Canadian Suzi McNeill.  First, we got Marti to play his Aerosmith song “Jaded” so we could all sing harmony.  Then Hall-of-Fame writer Even Stevens showed up, so we coaxed him to sing a bunch of his hits, including “I Love a Rainy Night”, “Driving My Life Away”, and “When You’re in Love with a Beautiful Woman”.  It was so surreal to sing along with the songs of my childhood with the guy who wrote them!

It crossed my mind – as I was doing yoga on a paddleboard anchored out among the mangroves on the last day of my trip – that even though this crazy business pays pennies on the dollar these days, it doesn’t matter.  When my bank account is empty, my heart is still full and rich with experiences.  Those are the things that really matter in the end!

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