Songs of the St. Johns River

What: Songwriting Contest
When: Entries due online on Sept. 6th
Where: Show at 8pm, Sept. 20th at Jack Rabbits

Inspiration for new artistic material can come from anywhere. For the first time, the Annual Gram Parsons Guitar Pull Songwriting Contest will offer a songwriting category specific to the St. Johns River. The Jacksonville Songwriter Residency and Safe at Home Productions are partnering with St. Johns Riverkeeper to honor the legacy of Gram Parsons and the St. Johns River through original songs that have been inspired by the ecology and environmental issues associated with the river.

If you don’t know who Gram Parsons is, you probably should. Parsons is often credited with helping to found both country rock and alt-country. He popularized what he called “Cosmic American Music” and has influenced musicians from the Rolling Stones to Wilco. Parsons also attended the Bolles School in Jacksonville, spending much time along the banks of the St. Johns River with his guitar and music.

The Jacksonville Songwriter Residency is recognizing the legacy of local inspirations, Parsons and the St. Johns River, with this songwriting contest. After all, our American Heritage River has made an indelible impression on musicians for centuries, inspiring such notables as Frederick Delius, Woody Guthrie, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Susan Tedeshi, Derek Trucks, JJ Grey, and Gram Parsons.

The Gram Parsons Guitar Pull Songwriting Contest will select five finalists to perform their river-related songs at Jack Rabbits on September 20 at 8pm.

The competition offers two categories:
1) Ecological and Environmental issues concerning Florida’s St. Johns River
2) Cosmic American Music representative of Gram Parsons’s legacy

The contest is held in conjunction with the Annual Gram Parsons Guitar Pull and Tribute Festival.
Original song submissions may be posted on the Gram Parsons Guitar Pull and Tribute Festival Facebook event page or emailed to [email protected] by September 6. Submissions will be judged on originality, melody, lyrics, and relevance to the criteria.

Professional songwriters, publishers, or other music industry professionals will judge contest entries. Five finalists in each category will be selected to perform their songs live, without recorded backup, at Jack Rabbits, on September 20, 2014. One winner in each category will be selected by a panel of judges to receive: 1) a $250 cash prize, 2) one weekend pass to the Gram Parsons Guitar Pull and Tribute Festival at the Okefenokee Fairgrounds in Waycross, Georgia, September 26-27, and 3) an opportunity to perform at the Festival. Rules and details are on the Facebook page.

The St. Johns River plays such a critical role in our community and the lives of so many people, including musicians. This contest is the perfect fusion of influences with an outlet for the creative expression of our river’s impact on our psyches. We can’t wait to see what our talented songwriters come up with.

About Shannon Blankinship

Shannon Blankinship is the Outreach Director for St. Johns Riverkeeper and contributes regularly via the “On The River” column building awareness for the many issues that impact the St. Johns River. Shannon received her B.S. from Purdue University in Natural Resources Economics and Policy and her J.D. from Florida Coastal School of Law in Jacksonville. She is currently an elected official in Duval County serving on the Soil and Water Conservation District. She is a board member for the local nonprofit The Girls Gone Green and regularly contributes articles affecting animals and health. She is a Springfield resident and works to promote all things great in the urban core neighborhoods.

april, 2022