“This year has been more important than ever”

OCEAN SPRINGS, Miss. (WLOX) – In small spaces, the relationship between musician and audience is magical.

This is especially true at the Mississippi Songwriters Festival.

“In Mississippi they can be themselves,” said Scott Stradtner of the Mississippi Songwriters Alliance. “They can connect and work with people that they don’t normally have the opportunity to do that with, and they can come and perform to accepting audiences at great venues like the one we have in Ocean Springs.”

Ocean Springs’ Jim Douglas has been to the festival before, and three things keep him coming back.

“Good music, great people and great songs,” he said. “They sing their own songs, that’s what they wrote. It comes from the heart.

This has been key to the success of the Mississippi Songwriters Festival, and this year has been huge.

“It’s really back,” Stradtner said. “The reception from the town of Ocean Springs, the vendors and the public has been incredible. This year has been bigger than ever. The songwriters are so happy to be here.

As well as those who appreciate them.

“It’s like I love the music,” Gulfport debutant Butch Horner said. “So it gives me the opportunity to meet some of the people who write the music.”

Over 120 singer-songwriters performed on 12 stages over the weekend.

Among those performers was Dave Pahanish, who wrote hits for Jimmy Wayne, Toby Keith, Tim McGraw and Keith Urban.

He has been playing at the festival for three years.

“I love the area, personally,” he said. “And, of course, I love the people. George Cumbest, the whole gang, very accommodating. It’s just a nice little songwriting community.

His advice for any songwriter?

“Truth. Stay true to who you are.

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