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Acoustic concert and now a Beach BBQ hits Lovers Key State Park, March 1

February 21, 2018
By ANITA FORCE MARSHALL ( , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

Guitar chords, singing and the scent of hamburgers and hot dogs on the barbecue will be filling the air on the beach at Lovers Key as the popular Songwriters at Sunset is set for Thursday, March 1.

The Americana Community Music Association of Fort Myers acoustic concert has now added a Beach BBQ which will start at 3:45 p.m. with the music to begin at 4:45 p.m.

The concert is free with a paid park entry fee ($8 for vehicles with two to eight people, $4 for a single person in vehicle, $2 for pedestrians/bicyclists).

The barbecue as well as wine and beer are all offered by donation, the proceeds from which will go directly to the future Welcome and Discovery Center at the Park through the efforts of Friends of Lovers Key State Park. It's always advised to arrive early to the park at 8700 Estero Blvd., as you will need time to park and ride the tram down the beach.

Once you're at the beach, join in the fun at the large gazebo where there will be first-come, first-served seating. You may opt to bring a beach chair as additional seating is always available on the sand.

"The Songwriters at Sunset concerts are special in that all of the songs played throughout the evening are original acoustic music," said Shelley-Sue Williams, FOLKS' director/communications chair. "Listeners get to hear the story behind the song and the songwriters share how and where they got the idea for their song with their listeners."

"I think people are surprised by the quality of the original music - just think if Jackson Browne or James Taylor never had been discovered, and they lived normal lives, but they kept writing songs," said Bob Williams, ACMA vice president. "There are not many opportunities to play original music. We offer a quiet setting where the audience is hanging on every song and the stories behind the songs. It's a lot like our local Island Hopper - a marriage of location and talent."

The March concert will feature local musicians Annie Wenz, David Hintz, and Robert Bidney.

"Annie Wenz has shared her songs and stomped her dusty musical boots through 25 countries around the world from festivals, rallys, street corners, schools and arts centers, to refugee camps in Pakistan, spas in Malaysia, ESPN videos, independent film and theater scores, and blaring speakers at Major League ballparks. She is known for her Kerouac-ish magnifying glass-ified lyrical portraits of story songs and her unique way of blending roots, multi-cultural influences, and funky rhythms," according to the ACMA website.

"David Hintz songs follow in the tradition of John Prine, Johnny Cash, Townes Van Zandt, Bob Dylan, Kris Kristofferson and many other legendary folk artists. Some are playful and self-aware, some tragic and explore his life story, and some are soft and emotionally charged for the hopeless romantic in all of us, but all of them come from an honest heart," the ACMA website states.

"Robert Bidney is a strong, new voice on the indie album scene that's been a long-time coming. His messages are as strong as his melodies with an appealing pop/soul sensibility, leaving listeners wanting more. His songs have been covered by legends in the music industry, with songs on the national charts, his album 'It's All About the Love' is gaining traction as he continues to tour," the ACMA website provides.

Who would enjoy this event?

"Who wouldn't?" Williams said. "Great music, on the beach, a cheeseburger, a drink in your hand - that's even a song. Everyone really enjoys our beautiful location. Last month we had about 400 people (and) half of them had been there before. They keep coming back and bringing friends with them and now that FOLKS is running a barbecue at the event, it just has gotten better and better."

The monthly concerts came about when FOLKS joined with the ACMA to offer free acoustic concerts filled with all original music. The ACMA is a Fort Myers-based organization that promotes local artists who write and sing their own original songs.

"We have created a listening room atmosphere, where people are respectful of the artists and are actually listening to the stories and the songs," Shelley-Sue Williams said. "It is always interesting to hear where a song originated from. Listeners can sit in chairs in the shaded gazebo or can bring beach chairs and sit on the sand. And of course each concert ends with an amazing Lovers Key sunset."

The Songwriters at Sunset season finale is scheduled for April 5.

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