KEY WEST, Florida Keys — Audiences can rock, sway and sing along to some of America's hottest contemporary hits and classics Wednesday through Sunday, May 4-8, at the 21st annual Florida Restaurant & Lodging Association Key West Songwriters Festival.

More than 200 songwriters are to showcase their chart-topping offerings during the five-day event, performing 50-plus shows in casual island settings.

Scheduled hitmakers include Jake Owen, who rocketed to stardom with the album "Barefoot Blue Jean Night"; Rhett Akins, who has penned 20 number-one singles; acclaimed Texas-based songwriter/entertainer Robert Earl Keen; Jack Ingram, whose notable offerings include the summertime anthem "Barefoot and Crazy"; Liz Rose, acclaimed for co-writing smashes with pop sensation Taylor Swift; and Natalie Hemby, who has collaborated on numerous cuts for Miranda Lambert and Little Big Town.

Most shows feature a rotating group of writer/performers and many have no admission charge. Headquartered at Key West's Smokin' Tuna Saloon, 4 Charles St., the festival presents shows at venues including island city bars, restaurants, resort beaches and poolsides and the Fury Catamaran during sunset cruises.

Events are to kick off at 6 p.m. Wednesday evening, May 4, with an outdoor concert starring Akins at the Ocean Key Resort's Sunset Pier overlooking the Gulf of Mexico at 0 Duval St. In high demand as a writer for other artists, Akins also is renowned for a performing career that spawned such tunes as "Don't Get Me Started."

Other anticipated festival highlights include group shows Thursday and Friday nights at the San Carlos Institute, a Cuban cultural center at 516 Duval St.; Tropic Cinema, a boutique cinema and theater at 416 Eaton St.; the Key West Theater at 512 Eaton St. and The Studios of Key West, an art enclave at 533 Eaton St.

At 7 p.m. Saturday, a free "main stage" concert headlined by Owen is scheduled in the 200 block of Key West's Duval Street. Hailed for exhilarating performances and easygoing country style, Owen is known for singles including "Beachin'," "Real Life" and the current "American Country Love Song."

Presented by international performing rights organization BMI, the Key West Songwriters Festival concludes with five afternoon and evening shows Sunday, May 8.

Festival information, schedule and ticketing:
Key West visitor information: or 1-800-LAST-KEY

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