New Season Begins January 2
Enjoy first-class original music, tasty food and a magnificent sunset with the 5th annual “Songwriters at Sunset” Concert Series at the Lovers Key State Park (LKSP) beach gazebo beginning Thursday, January 2, with musicians J. Robert and Brent Moyer at 3:45 p.m. Each program starts with food trucks one hour before the musical shows. The acoustic concerts, with the performers from the Americana Community Music Association (ACMA), continue the first Thursday of each month through April, with times varying due to sunset. All profits benefit the Friends of Lovers Key State Park (FOLKS), who are raising funds for the LKSP Welcome & Discovery Center that will be the park’s first indoor facility when complete in early 2021.
Known as a premier “Florida Music” artist, J. Robert is the creator of the Florida Music Showcase and a regular performer at the Florida Folk Festival and numerous other events. A Marco Island resident, he plays his “Caribbean County” music and has released six albums over the years, with songs on “The Big Band Theory” and “Madam Secretary.”
Raised in the mountains of Wyoming, Brent Moyer’s hot, high-energy guitar style and rich baritone voice highlight his original music that combines various American musical genres including County, Rhythm-&-Blues, Soul and Americana, among others. Nicknamed “The Global Cowboy,” Moyer has shared the stage with stars ranging from Willie Nelson to Donna Summer, as well as on Broadway, numerous CDs and 14 albums.
“Every concert will have three food trucks,” said Shelley-Sue Williams, FOLKS spokesperson. “Those from Haney’s Catering and Royal Scoop will be there at each of the four shows, with the third rotating. For January, it will be Brit Pit.” Along with the catering will be soda, wine and beer, with the food trucks donating a portion of their proceeds to benefit the Welcome & Discovery Center.
A Great Team!
The successful partnership between the Americana Community Music Association and Friends of Lovers Key State Park for the “Songwriters at Sunset” Series came from the partnership of Shelley-Sue, who is on the FOLKS Board, and her husband Bob, an ACMA Board member, “so I guess we really are a great team,” she joked!
“Performances last roughly 90 minutes and conclude just before sunset. When we first began, we felt we would be successful if we filled the 80-person gazebo, but shows now average 400 to 800 people! Audiences enjoy the shows and musicians love the venue.”
The remainder of the 2019-20 schedule is Charlie McCoy and The Reckless Saints, featuring Roy Schneider & Kim Mayfield, on February 6 at 4:15 p.m.; Fort Myers Beach’s own Pearl Street Band with Clark Johnson, Mike McMilan, Bill Veach, and Bob Williams on March 5 at 4:30 p.m.; with Chakulla on April 2 at 5:45 p.m.
“Yes, that Charlie McCoy,” exclaimed Shelley-Sue about the Country Hall of Famer who previously had a winter home near LKSP. “We are so excited to welcome him back! ‘The Pearl Street Band’ is the island’s favorite all-original band, while Chakulla’s unique guitar chords and catchy melodies always amazes!” Concerts are free with LKSP admission, though FOLKS will accept donations toward the Welcome & Discovery Center, as well as offering merchandise and memberships to FOLKS and ACWA.
Shelley-Sue encourages concert goers to arrive early “because everyone must take one of the LKSP trams from the parking lots to the beach and back, then the trams return you to your vehicle quickly following the concerts, until every single person is safely back at their car. You need to arrive early as well if you hope to get one of the 80 seats in the gazebo; otherwise bring your own beach chair or blanket, as there is more than enough room for everybody on the beach. While the concerts are acoustic, we do use speakers so everyone can hear the shows clearly, though we do moderate the volume.”
One thing Shelley-Sue emphasized that FOLKS does need for the “Songwriters at Sunset” shows are volunteers! “Back when we first initiated the concerts, crowds were manageable so we could get by with about a half-dozen or so volunteers, but now that the audience is huge, we need roughly 30 people. If you can help us, contact LKSP or FOLKS. Volunteers, by the way, include the performers who waive their fee, so be generous when we pass the tip jar for them. If it were not for our volunteers, ‘Songwriters at Sunset’ could never happen!”
Everything FOLKS sponsors is to help fund the Welcome & Discovery Center. Construction on the $4 million, 4,000-square-foot building, including educational displays and a multi-use room, gets underway in early 2020, to be complete by Spring 2021. While the State allocated the funds to build the Center, FOLKS committed to raise an additional $1.5 million for its educational exhibits and furnishings.
ACMA, LKSP & Yoga
The ACMA is a Fort Myers-based organization that promotes local artists who write and sing their own songs. “We are a non-profit that puts on over 60 shows a year,” explained Bob Williams. “We host year-long performances all throughout the Southwest Florida community, along with our regular ‘Listening Room Concerts’ at All Faiths Unitarian Congregation at 2756 McGregor Boulevard most Saturdays at 7 p.m.” For ACMA shows and information, see www.americanacma.org.
Lovers Key State Park is open every day of the year from 8 a.m. to sundown, with $8 per car admission for 2 to 8 people, $4 for single occupant vehicles and motorcycles, and $2 pedestrians and bicyclists. It is at 8700 Estero Boulevard; for details call 239-463-4588 or see www.floridastateparks.org/loverskey.
”Songwriters at Sunset” shows are not the only FOLKS-sponsored program beginning again at LKSP during the first week of the New Year. “We offer yoga at the beach gazebo as well,” reminded Shelley-Sue. “Starting on January 6 and continuing every Monday through April 27, yoga is from 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. Instructor Sandy McShane offers open multi-level Vinyasa Flow Yoga. Bring a mat, water, and any necessary props and arrive early, as trams depart for the beach at 9 and 9:15 a.m. Each yoga class in $10 plus the park entry, with a portion of those fees going to FOLKS for the Welcome & Discovery Center.” If you have any questions, call Sandy at 774-563-8874.
“If you like ‘The Island Hopper Songwriter’s Festival’ that comes to Fort Myers Beach each September, you will love ‘Songwriters at Sunset,’” concluded Shelley-Sue. “Who doesn’t want to be in on a secret, and when you hear the songwriters tell the personal story behind why they wrote the music, you will never listen to those tunes the same way again! I love seeing the big crowd on the beach, with everyone having such a good time, enjoying the tremendous music and delicious food, and then everyone marvels at the Lover Key State Park sunset. One of the best parts of the shows is that we discover that there are always a good number of people who are at LKSP for the first time, learning about its trails and programs and all the amenities it has to offer, because that is what FOLKS is all about.”