Island Hopper Triumphs Over Irma


    The Shows Must Go On!

    “It is important we host the Island Hopper Songwriter Fest this year, following the near-tragedy of Hurricane Irma,” related Tamara Pigott, Executive Director for the Lee County Visitor & Convention Bureau (VCB), “because our businesses must go on, so what better way to express that than to say that ‘the shows must go on!’ We have 8,000 people in Lee County who work in the tourism industry, and we owe it to them and the businesses they work in to help get people back out and about after Irma.”

    The 4th annual Island Hopper Songwriter Fest is from Friday, September 22, through Sunday, October 1, including performances exclusively at various Fort Myers Beach venues from Friday, September 29 to Sunday, October 1. Tamara explained that “the restaurants and bars that host Island Hopper events need the extra business, and their servers need the tips, but perhaps more importantly, all of Southwest Florida needs to begin the healing process after such a frightful event like Irma, and what is more healing than fantastic music!”

    She pointed out that nearly everyone in our community has undergone a stressful time over the past few weeks, “so come out for a few hours, enjoy a well-deserved night out, and listen to the mostly-free music, as there are only two ticketed events, and even those are inexpensive, so take a break, relax a little, and support our business community. We certainly don’t want to be insensitive to those who are still undergoing a tough time, but we want the shows to go on for the good of everyone.”

    “You can go online and find a fact sheet with all the artists and where and when they will entertain,” said Nancy MacPhee, VCB Product Development Manager and Island Hopper Songwriter Fest Coordinator. “This is a great event and a really nice time for people throughout our community, as well as visitors, and a fun way to spend your last two September weekends, if you have the time and can get away from hurricane restoration for a while. We all need some joy after a couple of hectic weeks, and these entertainers, with their musical talent and heartwarming stories, are just what the doctor ordered to help us all to feel a lot better again.”

    Just Good Stuff!

    “To our knowledge,” said Tamara, “none of the artists previously booked needs to drop out due to Hurricanes Harvey or Irma, as there seems to be no travel issues or anything like that. Everyone we spoke with is very happy we weathered the storm so well, and plans to attend. We have some of the best songwriters in the entire nation coming here. You may not know their names but they write for some of America’s biggest stars, like George Strait, Lonestar, Maren Morris and Blake Shelton. There will be over 70 performers with more than 100 shows in 22 venues over 10 days, with artists at 8 locations on Captiva, 6 in Downtown Fort Myers, and the rest on Fort Myers Beach.”

    Tamara said that some of the venues are discussing turning their individual shows into fundraising efforts to assist the community following Irma, “but there is nothing planned at present through the Island Hopper itself, so we will most likely leave that decision to the in-house forums.”

    sheena brook, frt myers beach, island hopper
    Athena Dawn and Sheena Brook perform at last year’s Island Hopper at Nervous Nellie’s. Photos courtesy of The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel,

    Fort Myers Beach’s own Sheena Brook is a BMI songwriter, and she will headline Captiva shows on Friday through Sunday, September 22 to 24. The Pink Shell Resort & Marina sponsors one of the Fest’s only two ticketed performances on Sunday, October 1, when RaeLynn entertains and hosts a pool party at 1 p.m., with individual tickets at $20. Fort Myers Beach venues include the DiamondHead Beach Resort, Matanzas on the Bay, Nervous Nellie’s, PierSide Grill & Famous Blowfish Bar, Pincher’s Crab Shack, Pink Shell Beach Resort & Marina, Sunset Beach Tropical Grill & Playmore Tiki Bar and the Yucatan Beach Stand Bar & Grill.

    – Fort Myers Beach performances:

    at Matanzas on the Bay, Nervous Nellie’s, PierSide, Sunset Beach and Cabanas can be heard:

    Friday, September 29
    7-10:30pm (Matanzas on the Bay ends at 9:15pm)

    Saturday, September 30
    2:30-9:30pm, with a Late Night Jam from 10pm-midnight at Cabanas

    Sunday, October 1
    1:30-2:30 and 3-4pm.

    – Pink Shell performances:

    Saturday, September 30

    Sunday, October 1
    1-2:15pm (ticket required)

    – Pinchers Crab Shack (18100 San Carlos Blvd) performances:

    Sunday, October
    1 1-3:30pm

    The full Fort Myers Beach performance schedule is available in the September SAND LIFE magazine or for information on performers, locations and the full schedule, visit

    “The best part about the Island Hopper is you get the story behind the song,” Nancy offered. “The music is great but hearing about the backstory is just good stuff!”


    Gary Mooney