All Proceeds go to Great Charities and Good Causes.
In the late 80's, I (Mark A. McBride, Festival Founder) was introduced to the Frank Brown International Songwriters' Festival (FBISF) while visiting the Gulf Shores area during a trip to the Alabama-Florida Gulf beaches. At the time, I was in the real estate business, was in the art business, traveled a lot, and had an extraordinary love and passion for art and music. One night I was at a beachfront bar in Gulf Shores, Alabama that was located where the Hangout is today, and it was the second weekend of a festival and, wow, was the talent amazing! Once I discovered the FBISF, I planned my November fall visits to the beach around the annual event for years to follow.
Around 2000, I ended up moving to the beach to develop real estate and connected with many business partners, musicians, songwriters and local island folks in Perdido Key, FL. One of those people was Joe Gilchrist, the owner of the Flora Bama and the founder of FBISF, someone who I met and visited with many times over the years as a bar patron, but really never knew personally. Joe and I became friends while we were both in the bar business (I owned the Purple Parrot Tiki Bar while he owned the Flora Bama) and we were both heavily invested in the future development of Perdido Key. We served on boards and community activist groups together and shared many of the same interests, with the two most well-known for both of us being us having a good time and music. Over the years, as Joe and I became good friends I became more and more involved with the local music community. As part of my business interests, opportunities came up for me to purchase the Playa del Rio RV Resort aka PDR as well as become an owner of Sandy Roots Records with Christina Christian and Nick Biechricher and an owner of Beachbilly Lifestyle with Judy Davis, Josh Brown and Jessika Brown, among other businesses. It was the perfect mix of music, songwriting, living a great beach lifestyle, and enjoying good times! We turned the Playa del Rio into a music beach vacation destination and incorporated the FBISF as part of the annual events at the PDR. Every year, we did a mid-year Songwriters Appreciation Cookout for all the local songwriters and musicians and created a special weekend for musicians to jam at the beautiful riverside setting of the RV park that many will tell you is a magical place for songwriter and music events -- as my way to say thank you to the local talented music community that we are so blessed to have along the Alabama Florida Gulf Coast at the beach. My involvement with FBISF and the local music community became a very important part of the Playa del Rio and my life; and now being semi-retired, I plan to devote my time to many great music, art, lifestyle, community and charity causes.
After Covid hit in 2020, it devastated the music industry nationwide closing bars and venues, canceling concert tours, and shutting down almost all music events! Meanwhile, the impact to music festivals and concerts like the Frank Brown International Songwriters' Festival were the most painful due to loss of tourism and grant funding. Additionally, to add insult to injury, the Gulf Coast and all along the Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, and Louisiana coastline has been hit with further devastation and destruction from many hurricanes over the years. In an effort to give back and pay it forward, I decided to turn my annual songwriter appreciation cookout that started in 2014 (making PKMF 2023 the 10th Annual Event) into an organized annual music festival to help raise money for the music community, locally and regionally, with all proceeds from the Perdido Key Music Festival going to the Frank Brown Foundation for Music to help its initiatives, other music-related causes such as Student Music Programs, Songwriter College Scholarships, and other meaningful charities or causes, as well as establishing a local Perdido Key music platform to help ensure the continuation of the annual Frank Brown International Songwriters' Festival for generations to come. For me, that was going to be a very big challenge because I lost almost everything that I owned in Hurricane Sally shortly before the 2020 Frank Brown Songwriters' Festival, which included the Playa del Rio, my office and my home being destroyed. I was not in a financial position to do much on my own, and it was going to take the support of our strong local music family and community that we live in to make this event a reality. I decided that no matter what all happened in 2020, our community needed to continue to be the special music beach paradise that people from all around the country enjoy, and Perdido Key needed its first annual Music Festival. So, the Perdido Key Music Festival was created with the first official festival being in 2021. I reached out to a small group of folks that shared the same love for music, songwriting and our local music community as me, while reaching out to every songwriter and musician that had ever performed at the Playa del Rio. The response was overwhelming, and I realized that this was going to become something very special. At first, I was worried about getting enough interest to put on a half day event; but so many songwriters and musicians were willing to support the FBISF that the event turned into a 2-day music festival with more than 50 songwriters ready to go on stage and show their support .... some of the best talent to ever perform at the beach and at the Playa del Rio wanted to be a part of this event. Then the following event for 2022 was a 3-day festival with 15 bands and 55 musicians performing. The event for 2023 will be a 2-day festival with 7 bands and over 35 musicians performing. This all evolved into one of the most magical music events from nothing more than an idea, a vision and a love and passion for music. Thanks to a lot of hard work by a small group of people, with Kim Harper, Cynthia Adams, Andy Haynes, Joe Gilchrist, the Beachbilly Lifestyle team, the Sandy Roots Records team and the Playa del Rio Family all working together, a great party and music event has come together.
Having been in the art business for many years, I decided that the art piece for the festival was just as important as all other elements of the event, so for the first few years I created each work of art that represents the festival as the finishing touch for making the event truly special to me. Since I am not much of an artist, my drawings and sketches were only the blueprint for the artwork that was created. The first year's art had little symbols and elements hidden within the art that will always be remembered by Playa del Rio visitors, local music fans and those who were fortunate enough to be at the first annual event in 2021. Each year we try to honor some people no longer with us while capturing the meaning of the event. The art, the music, the vision, the support .... it all makes me smile inside! At the end of the day, I am very proud of my vision and what I am creating, while I am humbled and thankful to have so many friends, fellow songwriters, musicians, music fans and volunteers behind these efforts and this new music festival that I believe will become a very big part of our music community and one of the most talked about annual music events to benefit so many great charities and good causes, as well as the Frank Brown International Songwriters' Festival. Although I have lost many things and people very dear and important to me in my life over the years, I have always been rich with friends and I have a lifetime of memories that most people twice my age have never been blessed with or had the experience to enjoy.
My life has been nothing but a song written and told by a songwriter that loves to tell a good story and loves to hear other people's life stories .... which is what songwriting and music is all about. Music is my happy place and I believe that it is an important part of life and a piece of our soul. I hope that the Perdido Key Music Festival makes others as happy as it has made me to create it!
~Enjoy the Show!
"Music is Good for our Soul!"
Mark A. McBride, Perdido Key Music Festival, Founder
"Music Makes the World a Better Place!"
Joe Gilchrist, Frank Brown Songwriters' Festival, Founder
Thank you for your support!