Country music fans rejoice! The Island Hopper Songwriter Fest is back for its 10th year, and it’s bigger and better than ever. The festival kicks off on Friday, September 22nd, and runs through Sunday, October 1st, with dozens of singer-songwriters performing at various venues throughout Lee County.
One of the biggest headliners this year is Chris Janson. Janson is a Grammy-nominated country singer-songwriter who has scored many hits of his own, including “Buy Me a Boat,” “Good Vibes,” and “Fix a Drink.” He’ll be performing a poolside concert with Kristian Bush of Sugarland on Sunday, October 1st at Pink Shell Beach Resort & Marina on Fort Myers Beach.
Also, there is no tolls for the Sanibel Island bridge for two days of the fest, courtesy of the nonprofit Collaboratory and the Lee County Tourist Development Council. They’re paying for the tolls to be waived Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 23-24, according to a Collaboratory news release. Tolls still apply for Island Fest shows Friday, Sept. 22.
Other highlights this year include:
- Grammy-winning songwriter Tim James, who co-wrote Toby Keith’s “My List” and The Lost Trailers’ “Holler Back” (Various Captiva Island venues, Sept. 22-24. Free.)
- Ben Burgess, who co-wrote The Jonas Brothers’ “Chillin in the Summertime” and Morgan Wallen’s “Whiskey Glasses” (Various Captiva Island venues, Sept. 22-24. Free.)
- Emily Shackelton, co-writer of Carly Pearce’s No. 1 single “Every Little Thing” (Various Captiva Island venues, Sept. 22-24. Free.)
- Chris Bepko, grand prize winner of Davis Art Center’s annual singer-songwriter competition in Fort Myers (three shows scheduled for Sept. 26-29 in Cape Coral, Fort Myers and Fort Myers Beach. Free.)
- Kristian Bush, the Sugarland singer-songwriter is an Island Hopper regular. He’ll play the headlining show with Chris Janson, but he also performs two free Fort Myers Beach shows (9 p.m. Friday, Sept. 29 at Bayside Park, 8:15 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 30 at Cabanas Beach Bar & Grille)
- And local singer-songwriters Sheena Brook and Brian Sutherland, playing the outdoor concert Music on the Mound (2 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 30 at The Mound House on Fort Myers Beach. $45 includes beer, wine, soft drinks, water, appetizers and museum admission. Brook and Sutherland also play several free shows separately at other venues during the festival).
Most shows are free, although there are several ticketed events this year. Tickets for the Janson and Bush pool party are $45. For tickets and information, download the Island Hopper app or visit IslandHopperFest.com.
Whether you’re a fan of country music, or you just want to enjoy a fun weekend in Lee County, be sure to check out the Island Hopper Songwriter Fest!