Under the watchful eye of a brilliant full moon on an ideal early-February-in-Florida evening, organizers of the Safety Harbor Songfest revealed the lineup for the 2017 edition of their two-day singer-songwriter event, which takes place on Saturday, April 1 from 11 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. and on Sunday, April 2 from 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. at the Safety Harbor Waterfront Park.
And as has been the case for each of the first three festivals, the lineup is comprised of a collection of diverse and well-known musicians, including recent Grammy winner Fantastic Negrito, national recording artists Caravan of Thieves, Rising Appalachia and Magic Giant, as well as local favorites Daphne Willis and Emily Kopp of Nashville and the multi-talented Joe Craven.
In addition to the acts appearing on one of the two stages at the park, some artists will also perform at various locations around town, including the recently opened Safety Harbor Art and Music Center and its ancillary venue, Sideshow.
“I think one of the big things this year is now that SHAMC is open, the artists see what we’re doing in the community, that we’re not a for-profit festival like so many of them are today,” Songfest cofounder Todd Ramquist said following the two-hour-long announcement party on Friday.
“So we are able to bring in so many artists who are big throughout the country who never would’ve made it to Safety Harbor or even the bay area before.”
Indeed, the September opening of the new facility at 706 Second Street North after five years of planning and construction has provided the SHAMC collective the home base it has lacked while Ramquist and his fellow Whimzey Twin, Kiaralinda, stitched together concerts and performances at a variety of venues all over town.
“Each year, the circles get wider,” Kiaralinda said.
“From our house, to our friends’, to friends of friends, then to Sideshow and now to SHAMC. Now, everyone who walks through the SHAMC doors knows about Songfest. It’s not a mystery anymore.”
The only mystery on Friday night was which artists would be invited to play the event this year.
Thanks to a 50-minute video created by the talented local filmmaker, educator and community activist, Janet Lee, shown on the side of a mobile billboard truck, the capacity crowd in the Crooked Thumb beer garden got a chance to see, and hear, snippets from the acts that will be playing at the festival in April.
The event proved to be a hit with the guests, who could sip the brewery’s beers, eat food from a tent at the back of the beer garden, and soak up the festive atmosphere while listening to the lineup announcements.
“I’m just so excited, because there’s so much raw talent coming here,” Safety Harbor resident Lisa Garcia said, noting she likes Daphne Willis because “she’s played here before” and Rising Appalachia because “they’re so exotic.”
“Todd and Kiaralinda are the best,” she added. “I feel like I’m on the ground floor of something special with Songfest.”
The positive vibes were not lost on Crooked Thumb co-owner Kip Kelly.
“The community vibe I’m feeling here has been awesome,” Kelly said.
“This is a place where people come to be entertained, and there’s a lot of Safety Harbor people here having fun.”
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