In November 1992, a lone songwriter sits onstage in a well-known beach bar on the Florida/Alabama state line. The room is full, but the normal ruckus of the honkytonk crowd is absent. The listeners are dead silent as the songwriter strums the first few notes of a song on his guitar. He's dressed in black, a cigarette burns in an ashtray next to him. His voice is raspy as he goes into a quiet, haunting rendition of Kenny Rogers's hit song "(Just Dropped In) To See What Condition My Condition Was In."
This man is legendary country songwriter Mickey Newbury. You may not know his face or his name...but you know his music.
Fast-forward 27 years. Same bar, new era. Acclaimed country music journalist Robert
K. Oermann walks through the Flora-Bama for the first time on a quiet afternoon. He meets Joe Gilchrist, owner of the Flora-Bama and founder of the Frank Brown International Songwriters' Festival. Together they journey down memory lane, with Joe explaining the colorful history of the bar, the Festival, and the eclectic cast of songwriters and musicians who have made the Flora-Bama their home away from home over the years.
Thus begins our own journey as we explore not just the history of the festival and of country music, but also what it means to be a songwriter: the hardships of living on the road, earning pennies on the dollar for getting a song cut by a major artist, and the difficulties of making a living in the digital age.
Through never-before-seen interviews and performances, we get to know a charming cast of songwriters from all walks of life. Whether it's old legends who have since passed away, such as Hank Cochran ("I Fall To Pieces" "Make The World Go Away") and Wayne Carson ("The Letter" "Always On My Mind"), or bright-eyed newcomers just scraping the charts, various points-of-view are presented to give an unprecedented look into the lifestyle, the craft, and the inspiration of the people behind the songs.
Throughout our journey, we are reminded of how quickly time can move, and how much things can change. We are reminded of how it feels to struggle for something you love, the dejection of failure and the elation of success. And we are reminded of the one powerful constant that stays with us through it all...the music itself.
The documentary will be screened in the Main Room at the Flora-Bama Monday, Feb. 24, at 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. It is free to the public and everyone is invited.