The 22nd annual Key West Songwriters Festival, presented by BMI, recently took place in Key West, Florida, across several different venues spanning 50+ shows and 200+ performers over five days. As in previous years, an important element of the sound setup involved portable loudspeaker solutions from Bose Professional – whether at a stage at a local cantina or music venue, on the beach or elsewhere – including L1® systems (both L1 Model II and L1 Compact systems) and the recent addition of F1 Model 812 Flexible Array loudspeaker systems.
The roster of performers this year – many of whom travel from Nashville – ranges from up-and-comers to established talent like Maren Morris and Robert Earl Keen. BMI is the main performing rights partner, but writers also come from the other organisations ASCAP and SESAC. Seven larger ticketed theater shows anchor the event, but the majority of the performances are free to attend. The event has grown into a rousing success, providing a strong boost to the local economy and serving as an annual highlight for performers and fans alike. Many of the festival’s performers take the opportunity to network and co-write, and several have grown into major stars over the years. As sounds have changed in the country, singer-songwriter and Americana genres, the festival has adapted to include new styles and musical approaches, but Bose portable systems have been providing a consistent sonic backbone for many years.
Festival founder Charlie Bauer notes, “I first really became acquainted with Bose Professional systems when planning another festival in Martha’s Vineyard. One of the performers had a relationship with Bose at the time, and Bose personnel came down from their home base in Framingham, Massachusetts, with some L1 1S systems for use at the festival, and I was impressed immediately. Due to forces outside of our control, that festival was not a raging success, but the fact that it didn’t quite work allowed us to re-focus our energies on the Key West festival, which has found great success over more than two decades. And I got to take what I learned about these Bose systems in Martha’s Vineyard and bring it back down to the Keys!”
Some of the festival’s venues have Bose Professional components in use permanently, while local audio firm The Art of Sound transports Bose® systems around to other venues as needed over the event’s five days. “The Smokin’ Tuna Saloon has the L1 system in there year-round, and during the festival that’s definitely a major hub for these performance showcases,” adds Bauer. “Other venues include Casa Marina, Blue Heaven, Ocean Key Resorts, Margaritaville, Gas Monkey and the Key West Theater. All told, I would say that Bose L1 or F1 systems, or a mix of both, are in use at all of our events, with the exception of a few smaller venues. There have been some real big names that have come through here in previous years who found themselves performing through Bose portable systems – Kasey Musgraves, Steve Cropper, Gary Clark Jr., to name a few. The systems are the right mix of sonics, ease of use and portability. They are definitely an element we have come to rely on.”
Greg Rue, owner and operator of The Art of Sound in Key West, and the festival’s primary audio engineer, notes, “For the past two years I have worked daily with Bose F1 and L1 systems, both in clubs and in festival environments. I have set them up on beaches, boats and various types of venues, and even ridden in the back of trucks with them throughout Mexico. After experiencing the high level of quality, performance, durability and portability of these systems, I find it hard to work with anything else. We used Bose systems in over 30 of the shows this year at the festival, and I imagine we’ll use them just as much in the future.”