Florida native to play Island Hopper Songwriter Festival
By ASHLEY GOODMAN
This year’s Island Hopper Songwriter Festival will attract nearly 80 artists to Southwest Florida who have written songs for popular artists and musicians. One of those musicians, Brian Sutherland, an Orlando-based musician who grew up in Fort Myers, will be playing on Captiva Sept. 22-24 for a third year in a row. In addition to the Island Hopper Songwriter Festival, Sutherland also participates in the Dripping Springs Songwriters Festival and the Key West Songwriter’s Festival. Sutherland’s music is a mix of American, alt-country and Florida folk. Currently, he’s in the midst of working on a second album.
Q: What brings you back to the festival year after year?
A: I love playing this festival. It’s almost a vacation for the songwriters, while at the same time, giving us the chance to play really intimate settings in paradise and meet new friends and fans.
Q: What got you into playing music?
A: I started playing guitar and cello in 6th grade at Three Oaks Middle School. From the first note, I never thought I’d do anything else. The bug caught me big.
Q: How do you think living in Florida has affected your music?
A: Over the years my music has definitely had a slight increase in tropical influence. Growing up as close to the beach as I did, listening to the reggae bands playing, the energy of the people , the joy this place brings, you can’t ignore it.
Q: What was the inspiration behind your latest EP, “Coming Home?”
A: Coming Home for me is a time capsule. Each song was inspired by an event or occurrence that catalyzed the writing process. For example, the title track was written while I was on tour driving to a festival and wondering what my wife was up to. Traveling as much as we do, you start to miss the little things like going to the grocery store together. The song was my way of telling her that I know it’s not an easy road for either of us, but I’m coming home soon.
Q: What’s was one of the most memorable moments of your career?
A: Oh man, two Island Hopper’s ago, I was paired for a show at Doc Ford’s with Frank Myers (“I Swear”, “From My Front Porch Lookin’ In”). I was really nervous, but I tried to hide it and failed miserably. I broke a string in the middle of the first song and had to change it there on stage. It was the perfect ice breaker and from that point on, all my nerves were gone. The round went really well, Frank is unbelievably talented live. At the end of the festival, we had exchanged contacts and got to write a few songs together. A friendship was started that day that I’m extremely grateful for.
Q: When will you be releasing your second album? What can people expect from it?
A: I have some new songs in the works right now. I’d like to put out another acoustic record of demos this year so we’ll see. You’ll have to keep your eye on the website or any of the social media pages.
Q: What are your future goals?
A: First goal after the festival is to pack. My wife Holly and I are moving to Nashville on Sept. 30 after the festival. We’re really excited!
Brian Sutherland’s scheduled performances:
Friday 9/22 – Cantina Captiva with Kristen Kelly 8:15 to 9:15 p.m.
Saturday 9/23 – Keylime Bistro with Dylan Altman 4:30 to 5:30 p.m.
Saturday 9/23 – RC Otters with Kevin Mac 8:30 to 9:30 p.m.
Sunday 9/24 – Keylime Bistro with Jimmy Stanley 4:45 to 5:45 p.m.
Monday 9/25 – Twisted Vine with Grayson Rogers 6 to 7:30 p.m.
Tuesday 9/26 – Twisted Vine with Megan Linville 6:30 to 7:30 p.m.
In addition to Captiva, artists will also perform in Downtown Fort Myers and Fort Myers Beach. For more information on the festival, go to island-hopper.fortmyers-sanibel.com.