A Model Festival During Pandemic: The Fourth Annual Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest 2021


Hahira, Georgia, August 19, 2021 — “We regret to say that Dirty Bird and the Flu will not be one of our Headliners this Saturday, because two of their band members have caught COVID-19,” said Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman. “But Scott Perkins and his band, Little Perks in Paradise, are coming from Atlanta to play as a Headliner.”

Tickets are on sale now, $10 online; they will be $12 at the door.

VIP tables seating six in front of the stage are $150; inquire to song@suwanneeriverkeeper.org.


The Finals will be a fun festival for the whole family, 7-11 PM, Saturday, August 21, 2021, at the Turner Center Art Park, 605 North Patterson Street, Valdosta, Georgia, 31601.

“Yes, the show will go on, with all pandemic precautions, ” said organizing Committee Chair and WWALS President Tom H. Johnson, Jr. “There will be plenty of music: all nine songwriters will be Finalists! Their songs are all so good, the WWALS Songwriting Contest Committee couldn’t bring itself to omit any of them.”

“That’s right, I will be marking spaces six feet apart, and Tom and I will be watching to be sure everybody wears masks, after the temperature check at the gate,” said Committee Member Angela Duncan. “If you are ill in any way, please stay home and look for hashtag #WWALSong2021.”

“If you can’t come, you can still buy a ticket and watch online via zoom or facebook live,” said WWALS Executive Director Gretchen Quarterman. “We did this last year when there wasn’t even a vaccine, so we can do it again this year.”

“The judges have formed a band, and will be playing a river song,” Said perpetual Judge J.J. Rolle, who will be keeping the winner plaques to hand out at the awards. “It’s all folk music! You’ve never heard a cow play music.”

“I am very excited and honored to be the Master of Ceremonies for this year’s Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriters Contest,” said Big Country Wes James, of WAAC FM Rivers Radio. “I can’t wait to hear all the great songs that have been submitted and to find out who this year’s winner will be.”

In alphabetical order, the finalists are:

  • Katherine Ball from Valdosta, GA, with Rock and Blues song, Something in the Water.
  • Jimi Davies from Atlanta, GA, with Blues rock country song, Dark Water.
  • Billy Ennis from Palatka, FL, with Folk song, Flat Bottom Boats.
  • Brandon Fox from Leesburg, GA, with Americana song, Moonlight (as by BoDean and the Poachers).
  • Kathy Lou Gilman from Kingsland, GA, with American Folk Revival song, The Legend of the Suwannee.
  • Rachel Grubb from Lake City, FL, with Indie Folk song, Cruising down the Suwannee.
  • Rachel Hillman from Tallahassee, FL, with Soul and Jazz song, Gossiping of Butterflies.
  • David Rodock, from Adel, GA, with Folk song, Suwannee River Rag.
  • KJ Wingate from O’Brien, FL, with Folk / Country song, The Hymn of Convict Spring.

“Skoll Axe will have their mobile facility in the parking lot for people to try their aim at axe-throwing,” said WWALS Intern Bobby McKenzie. “Food truck Hibachi Hwy will have its regular menu for purchase, and The Pour House will provide a cash bar.”

“We’ll be wearing masks and we’ll have hand sanitizer and a separate pay station so you can sanitize between handling money and drinks,” said Robbie Pittman of The Pour House.

“Thanks to Georgia Beer Company for being our top-tier sponsor again!” said WWALS Executive Director Gretchen Quarterman. “And thanks to all the other sponsors, including Lanier County News, Jacksonville Songwriters Group, Rivers Radio Group, Talk 92.1 FM, Adel Outfitters, Azalea City Music Academy, Eileen Box, and Okra Paradise Farms, plus some shy ones.”

There will be a kayak raffle and a silent auction, as well as a range of buttons, stickers, hats, notecards, signs, shirts, and posters for sale (this is a fundraiser for WWALS Watershed Coalition).

The M.C. will introduce the judges, who have formed a band and will play a song: Kenji Bolden, J.J. Rolle, and Josh Duncan. The Finalists will play, and prizes will be awarded:

First prize is $300 plus one day of recording studio time.

Plus $50 for best song from inside the Suwannee River Basin, and $50 for best song from outside.

And plaques to best in each musical genre.

Finally, the First Prize winner will play again.

So you’ll know what you’re supporting, there will be talks about WWALS advocacy, from water quality testing to opposing pipelines and mines and plastic water bottles, to promoting water trails and a Troupville River Camp.

About WWALS: Founded in June 2012, WWALS Watershed Coalition, Inc. (WWALS) advocates for conservation and stewardship of the Withlacoochee, Willacoochee, Alapaha, Little, Santa Fe, and Suwannee River watersheds in south Georgia and north Florida through education, awareness, environmental monitoring, and citizen activities. John S. Quarterman is the Suwannee Riverkeeper®, which is a staff position and a project of WWALS as the member of Waterkeeper® Alliance for the Suwannee River Basin.

Contact: John S. Quarterman, Suwannee Riverkeeper
WWALS Watershed Coalition
PO Box 88, Hahira, GA 31632