Songwriters festival returns to Brookhaven
The Overbrook Songwriters Festival returns to Brookhaven Aug. 6-7.
The festival was birthed in 2019 from the idea and efforts of Brookhaven musician Shaw Furlow. The retired Copiah-Lincoln Community College band director and instructor is well known for his songwriting and performing skills, so it came as no surprise to locals when he put together a festival centered around musicians playing and singing their original songs.
The first year was a success, Furlow said, with about 230 people attending shows.
“I did the first year and it gained a little momentum,” Furlow said of the interest garnered from the inaugural effort. “Then we had to put it off due to COVID, so it’s like starting from scratch again — except I had a better database of artists.”
Fourteen songwriters shared their talents across a few venues in 2019 — 25 are scheduled to perform this year, at five venues: Magnolia Blues, Betty’s Eat Shop, the deck at Georgia Blue, Brookhaven Sound Studios and Recess 101.
This year adds something new — a busking site for anyone to perform. Busking is playing in public for voluntary donations, and the sidewalk in front of Downtown Music Academy on South Railroad Avenue will be the spot for musicians to set up and play something.
“There will be a cover from the elements and an amp and mic,” Furlow said. “Everyone is invited to take advantage of this fun opportunity.”
Though the festival focuses on original songs, buskers can play whatever they choose. High school students are especially encouraged to participate.
“Come show us what ya got. Bring your guitar and play some songs,” Furlow said. “Open your case — make some bucks. We encourage those not on the (festival) bill to come and entertain.”
Another opportunity to play original songs — open to anyone who wishes to participate — will be a songwriters’ round at Brookhaven Sound Studio on Cherokee Street.
“That’s two opportunities to play your songs, make new connections and perhaps learn something new,” he said. “Last time, partnerships were made, co-writers got together and some teamed up and played shows together. Some decided to be co-writers together and some young songwriters got to hear from some very experienced songwriters.”
Two artists will headline shows — Libby Rae Watson at Recess 101 at 9 p.m. on the first night; and Ed Tree at Recess 101 at 7 p.m. on the second night. Tree’s show will have a$10 admission fee. All other shows are free admission.
Furlow described Watson as one of the great blues players in Mississippi, who has won multiple awards.
“Her shows are full of energy and funny stories — very Americana,” Furlow said.
Tree is a Brookhaven native who now lives in San Gabriel, California, Furlow said. The singer, songwriter, guitarist and producer may be better known in Brookhaven as Ed Sapley.
Overbrook is a boutique festival that differs from others in that players are paid to play. Most songwriter festivals allow people to play who pay to do so.
“It’s good for Brookhaven and it’s good for the people who come to Brookhaven,” he said. “I’ve never had one songwriter say they’re not coming back. They all say they want to come back to Brookhaven. I’ve had to turn down people this year because we’re limited — in venues and in how many we can pay.”
“The festival is not just for out-of-towners,” Furlow said. “We want a lot of locals to show up and hear some of this music. I expect the headliner shows will be booked with locals, and we would really like the other shows to be filled with locals, too.”
“We have good songwriters in this area. We have good songwriters in Loyd Star, good songwriters in Brookhaven, good songwriters in Wesson, etc. They don’t all have to be from Nashville,” Furlow said. “The songwriters in this area are some of the most supportive people you’ll ever meet. They are eager to hear from people and eager to learn. And I think they deserve the recognition.”
Friday, Aug. 6
7 p.m. Avery Landrum, Rona Barrett, Montana Beeson.
9 p.m. Libby Rae Watson
12 p.m. Cynthia Brando, Bryan Batson
2 p.m. Tony Norton, Cody Dunaway, Gabriel Bass
4 p.m. Bob Bogaert, Mike J. Case
12 p.m. Tommy Ike Hailey, Bill Romano
2 p.m. Beach Bums, Clayton Rayborn, John West
4 p.m. Nancy Roppolo, Charlie Hewitt, JP Dove
Betty’s Eat Shop
2 p.m. Betsy Berryhill, Harlie Blauw, Sophie Smith Elliot
9 p.m. Cole Furlow Taylor Hildebrand
7 p.m. Ed Tree
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