In the past five years, the Baton Rouge music scene has evolved. Songwriter showcases and acoustic listening rooms have popped up across the region, creating new outlets for more intimate shows.

This new environment is the perfect match for the fourth annual Third Street Songwriters Festival, festival founder Kay McHenry Solar said. 

“Songwriter and original music venues have opened up all over town,” Solar said. “We have a lot of talented songwriters here who are looking for outlets to play their original music. I think those wouldn’t be going over if we didn’t have the listener population that was looking to hear that kind of music.”

This year’s festival features more than 100 songwriters performing throughout the capital. You'll be able to hear local up-and-comers as well as Nashville, Tennessee, pros and get some industry feedback throughout the events this weekend.  

The festival grew out of a songwriter showcase called Home for the Holidays. Solar and her family have produced that concert each year near Christmas for nine years. The show turns the spotlight on south Louisiana songwriters like Prairieville’s Rhett Anthony and Solar’s son, CJ, a Baton Rouge native who now lives in Nashville performing and writing songs. 

After witnessing the growth of the 30A Songwriters Festival in South Walton, Florida, Kay Solar decided Baton Rouge could handle a similar festival where songwriters play in rounds of three or four and tell the stories behind the songs.

“I don’t have a beach highway, but I have a really cool downtown,” she recalled thinking.

The Third Street Songwriters Festival starts at 8 p.m. Friday the Red Dragon Listening Room on Florida Boulevard. There, CJ Solar will host a party with other featured performers. On Saturday from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m., downtown bars and restaurants will host free songwriter rounds, which are a taste of the Nashville songwriter scene, Kay Solar said.

“To hear the background, the story behind the song, it’s a really cool setting,” she said.


THIRD STREET SONGWRITER FESTIVAL SCHEDULE 

Friday 

10 a.m. to 3 p.m.: Songwriter workshop with Gary Nicholson. Location to be announced. $50 for members, $60 for nonmembers. 

8 p.m.: Kickoff concert featuring CJ Solar and friends. Red Dragon Listening Room, 2401 Florida Blvd. $20-$30 at thirdstreetkickoff.brownpapertickets.com.

Saturday 

9:30 a.m. to noon: Industry and listening panel at Jolie Pearl Oyster Bar, 315 North Blvd. Free. 

Noon to 3 p.m.: Firefly Moonshine brunch songwriter rounds at Stroubes, 107 Third St.

1 p.m. to 6 p.m.: Songwriter rounds at Jolie Pearl Oyster Bar, Hotel Indigo, Driftwood Cask & Barrel, Happy's, The Bengal Tap Room, Lava Cantina, Milford's on Third, and the Lobby bar inside the Hilton. All venues on Third Street in downtown Baton Rouge. 

4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.: Mixer & Music at Blend Wine Bar, 304 Laurel St., with Rusty Yates. $25. 

7 p.m.: Songwriter showcase at Manship Theatre, 100 Lafayette St. $35-$40. 

10 p.m.: After-party meet and greet at Hotel Indigo, 200 Convention St. Free. 

Sunday

11 a.m. to 2 p.m.: Songwriter rounds at Jolie Pearl Oyster Bar

2 p.m. to 5 p.m.: Sunday in the Park featuring Nashville, Tennessee, songwriters Band of Bros with David Borné 

5:30 p.m.: Jack Ingram at Manship Theatre. $35-$50.