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Annapolis Songwriters Festival poised for year 2

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Country artist Jake Owen drew an impressive Saturday night crowd to the City Dock during last year’s Annapolis Songwriters Festival. (TBM / Mark R. Smith)

Anyone contemplating starting a music festival needs to understand one key point before the opening night artist plays the first chord: it generally takes five years to get an annual event up, running and hauling in the cash.

With that understanding, Rams Head Group kicked off the initial Annapolis Songwriters Festival last fall and was generally pleased with the results. The second affair is set for Sept. 14-17 and with an expanded lineup.                              

“There was great enthusiasm during our first last year,” said Laura Price, Rams Head Presents director of marketing. “There were some challenges in bringing a new concept to Annapolis, but we knew that it would be the case. However, we got off to a good start.”

‘Bigger names’

For the upcoming festival, RHG is spending what Price, though declining to explain the financial specifics, called “close to what we invested last year, if not slightly more. We’ve also booked some bigger names and will have more ticketed national shows, as well as more free shows,” she said, “because we expect bigger crowds.”

For instance, after featuring two City Dock shows in 2022, the ASF will feature three this year, including Blondie and Thomas Dolby (Friday), and LeAnn Rimes and Elizabeth Cook (Sunday). It’s the same at Maryland Hall, with Michelle Branch on opening night (Thursday) and Marty Stuart & His Fabulous Superlatives (Saturday). There are also at least five concerts at Rams Head On Stage.

Concerning the festival’s target market, Price said RHG is casting its net within “a 60-mile radius from Annapolis, with greater concentration toward the Eastern Shore, because we may have missed some country fans last year. However, if we’re focusing on anything, it’s diversity.”

So all told, RHG considers the event’s progress on track after it purchased the Key West Songwriters Festival, which occurred with the intention of “expanding the concept into the Annapolis market. It’s a growth opportunity and we support songwriting as an art.”

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