Sing Out Loud Festival 2017
St. Augustine has become widely known for its exceptional live music. Over recent years, the nation’s oldest city has hosted such legendary musicians as Bob Dylan, Robert Plant, and Paul Simon at the St. Augustine Amphitheatre, as well as numerous great acts at the Ponte Vedra Concert Hall and other venues throughout town. Last year saw the debut of the Sing Out Loud Music Festival, which offered nine days of free concerts featuring an amazing lineup of national, regional and local musical artists.
This year, the Sing Out Loud Festival returns in September 2017 for its second year, bringing three full weekends of free concerts by an equally amazing roster of singers, songwriters, and musicians at multiple venues in the St. Augustine area.
Sponsored by Community First Credit Union and curated by St. Johns County Cultural Events Division (the same folks who run the Amphitheatre and Ponte Vedra Concert Hall), the Sing Out Loud Festival is well on its way to becoming one of the most exciting free music events in the southeast.
Locals and visitors gather in the Plaza de la Constitución to enjoy music in downtown St. Augustine.
Over three weekends in September (8-10, 15-17 and 22-24), the Sing Out Loud Festival will present hundreds of free shows at more than a dozen venues around town. From headlining acts like Steve Earle and Lake Street Dive to local and regional musicians including The Young Step (see below) and Shea Birney, the Sing Out Loud Festival will offer a bit of something for everyone.
“One would be hard pressed to name another city as small as St. Augustine that offers an equal number of establishments showcasing live music every day of the week, every day of the year,” says Paul Williamson, Director of Public Affairs for the City of St. Augustine. “The Sing Out Loud Festival showcases the city, its businesses and its artists while increasing St. Augustine’s stature as a place where musicians are welcomed and appreciated.”
Last year’s inaugural festival featured 315 performing artists with more than 15,000 music fans taking in 124 performances. This year, there will be over 200 national, regional, and local musical artists as well as special events like a Kids Matinee and Spoken Word and Comedy Showcases.
The Young Step plays The Backyard Stage at the St. Augustine Amphitheatre.
“The Festival represents an intersection of live entertainment and community,” explains Ryan Murphy, director of the county’s Cultural Events Division and coordinator of the Sing Out Loud Festival, in a recent press release. “It is very exciting to provide this massive free music festival to the community; one that features such a high profile and eclectic lineup and shines a light on St. Augustine’s vibrant performance scene.”
The festival was named after the Cultural Events Division’s “Sing Out Loud Series,” a collection of concerts and music video projects that highlight internationally touring artists as well as local musicians. Check out some of the videos here.
Dubbed “A St. Augustine Celebration of Music,” The Sing Out Loud Festival aims to include as much of the local music community as possible. Venues signed on for this year’s event include Mardi Gras, Hoptinger, Café Eleven, the Colonial Oak Music Park, the Limelight Theatre, Planet! Sarbez!, the St. Augustine Amphitheatre, and a showcase stage in Lincolnville, among others.
The St. Augustine Amphitheatre has become a favorite stopover for local, regional, and national acts.
September is a slow time of the year for tourism in St. Augustine. That makes it extra nice for the visitors who come during that time. Our local Visitors and Convention Bureau calls this time of year “Easy Season,” and the Sing Out Loud Festival is a big part of their efforts to get the word out about this less crowded time of year and all the benefits that go along with that.
Embracing nearly every musical genre you can think of including Texas Outlaw Country, New Orleans Brass and Funk, Alternative Indie Rock, Americana, Bluegrass, Neo-Soul, Folk, Punk and Hip Hop, the Sing Out Loud Festival is a not-to-be missed, free community music festival that’s sure to create new memories in the Oldest City.
For the past few years, St. Augustine has garnered worldwide attention for amazing events that celebrate its heritage, history, and arts and culture. In 2013, we welcomed the Gentlemen of the Road festival, which featured Grammy Award-winning band Mumford & Sons. In 2015, we celebrated our 450th birthday with musicians like Aaron Neville, Mavis Staples, and JJ Grey. Both events gave Murphy and his staff the ability to showcase local musicians on stages all over town – similar to what they’re achieving now with the Sing Out Loud Festival.
“It’s a real honor to have them [local musicians] and it’s stretching every genre imaginable,” says Murphy. “So there’s definitely going to be something for everyone and it’s something that we feel the locals are really going to get a taste for what this community has as well as the visitors getting to see what St. Augustine has as a musical city.”
With such a diverse lineup of musicians ready to entertain St. Johns County, it seems like a good idea to get to know a few of them. So without further ado, here’s a rundown of some of the national touring acts that will be making their way to St. Augustine’s largest free summer music festival.
STEVE EARLE & THE DUKES
Photo of Steve Earle by Chad Batka
Dubbed “an iconoclast to the core” by Rolling Stone magazine, frontman Steve Earle is easily one of the greatest country artists of all time. With a music career spanning more than four decades and his breakthrough album, Guitar Town(1986), Earle has cemented his spot in music history. Backed by The Dukes, the band’s latest album, So You Wannabe an Outlaw, was released this summer on Warner Brothers and pays homage to outlaw artists like Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson and Jonny Paycheck. “This record was all about me on the back pick-up of a Fender Telecaster on an entire record for the first time in my life,” Earle says in press material. “I’d been listening to Waylon’s Honky Tonk Heroes again, and I decided to start writing in that direction.” Catch Steve Earle & The Dukes on Sunday, September 10, at the St. Augustine Amphitheatre.
LAKE STREET DIVE
Photo of Lake Street Dive by Danny Clinch
Influenced by classic pop and swing-era jazz, Lake Street Dive features Rachael Price (lead vocals), Mike “McDuck” Olson (trumpet and guitar), Bridget Kearney (upright bass) and Mike Calabrese (drums). The four-piece group, who met in 2004 while attending the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, released their fifth studio album, Side Pony, on Nonesuch Records last winter. The record was named one of The 50 Best Albums of 2016 by Paste and features 11 tracks inspired by vintage sounds of groups like The Mamas and the Papas and Jackson 5. Lake Street Dive will perform on Saturday, September 9, at the St. Augustine Amphitheatre.
No stranger to Northeast Florida (they’ve played the area nearly a dozen times), Lucero is a country-punk rock band formed in 1998 and featuring frontman Ben Nichols (lead singer, guitar), guitarist Brian Venable, bassist John C. Stubblefield, drummer Roy Berry and keyboardist Rick Steff. Based in Memphis, Tennessee, the band has released eleven studio albums and three live albums, on top of maintaining a rigorous touring schedule that has them crisscrossing the United States. Lucero’s latest album, All a Man Should Do, was released on ATO Records in the fall of 2015. Highlights from the disc include “Can’t You Hear Them Howl” and “Went Looking for Warren Zevon’s Los Angeles.” Catch Lucero on Saturday, September 9, at the St. Augustine Amphitheatre.
Photo of Wolf Parade by Shawn McDonald
After taking a lengthy hiatus in 2011, indie rock band Wolf Parade is back at it with Cry Cry Cry, their first new album in seven years, slated for an October release on Sub Pop Records. “The soaring choruses, rousing anthems, sprawling guitars and chaotic keys that make up Wolf Parade are proudly on display over the course of Cry Cry Cry,” writes the record label on Wolf Parade’s bio page. “These elements are captured on the album’s anthemic lead single ‘Valley Boy’ and additional standouts ‘You’re Dreaming,’ ‘Artificial Life’ and ‘King of Piss and Paper.’” Formed in Montreal, Quebec in 2003, the band is comprised of Spencer Krug, Dan Boeckner, Arlen Thompson and Dante DeCaro. Wolf Parade will take the stage at the St. Augustine Amphitheatre on Sunday, September 24.
Photo of Lydia Loveless by David T. Kindler
Alt-country rocker and singer-songwriter, Lydia Loveless, is a rising star with a colorful past. Born and bred in a small farm town near Columbus, Ohio, Loveless grew up the third of four siblings in a family of musicians. This year, Rolling Stone magazine called the songstress “one of the biggest roots-rock acts of the year” and her fourth full-length record, Real, debuted in the Top 10 on the Americana chart. With influences ranging from Savage Garden to Tom Waits and Nine Inch Nails, Loveless has been compared to country renegades like Loretta Lynn and Merle Haggard. Check out Lydia Loveless on Saturday, September 16, at a venue to be announced.
JUSTIN TOWNES EARLE
Justin Townes Earle
The son of fellow Sing Out Loud Festival headliner Steve Earle, Justin Townes Earle has made a name for himself as a clever storyteller and multi-faceted musician fusing elements of Americana, folk, country, blues and soul. Born and raised in Nashville, Earle has played everywhere from the Grand Ole Opry and Beacon Theater to festivals like Bonnaroo and Bumbershoot. His latest album, Kids In The Street, which was released in May on New West Records, was deemed “the veteran songwriter’s most pleasing and playful effort to date” by National Public Radio. Justin Townes Earle will perform on Saturday, September 16, at a venue to be announced.
More Information For When You Go
The Sing Out Loud Festival will be held over the weekends of September 8, 9 and 10, September 15, 16 and 17 and September 22, 23 and 24, 2017, at venues in downtown St. Augustine and St. Augustine Beach.
Local hotels that are partnering with the Sing Out Loud Festival to offer special deals include the Bayfront Westcott House, Beacher's Lodge, Casa de Sueños, The Collector Luxury Inn & Gardens, St. Francis Inn, St. George Inn, and TRYP by Wyndham Sebastian St. Augustine.
Visit here for everything that’s going on during the Second Annual Sing Out Loud Music Festival.