For someone so busy as Dr. Kay Solar has been, she seems to be taking everything in good humor. For months now while working as a physician for Woman’s Hospital, supporting her son CJ Solar’s musical career with her husband, and broadcasting her weekly radio show, Kay has found the time to get the final touches together in preparation for the upcoming 5th Annual Third Street Songwriter’s Festival. DIG recently got in touch with her to see what this festival is all about!
What lead you to start the Third Street Songwriter’s Festival?
The idea really spawned out of the fact that, one, when my son went off to college in Nashville, I realized there where so many artists from the Baton Rouge area up in Nashville trying to jump start their music career. So I started the Home For the Holidays show at the Manship theater to give them a format to play their original music instead of them having to play out and sneak in original music at a cover gig. Around the same time, my son and I also started going to the 30A Songwriters Festival that runs along the 30A Highway in Florida from Rosemary Beach to San Destin. Downtown Baton Rouge and 3rd Street were starting to thrive with some really awesome venues and restaurants all down 3rd Street. Since we already had a presence at the Manship, we figured we could model our festival like 30A Highway and work our way down 3rd Street and keep growing each year!
Baton Rouge’s songwriting community has had a continued growing presence, as well. Do you think that has played a part in the festival’s success as well?
Absolutely! I’d say in the last five years we have seen a ton of local singer songwriters come about from in the city. One of the things I wanted to do with the festival is not only give them a place for them to play, but to bring in some educational aspect and networking opportunities as well. There’s a lot of songwriters that go back and forth from here to Nashville, but there are some who want to improve their craft or take their career to the next level, but they can’t make that trip. We’ve put on songwriters workshops with hit writers to help our songwriters get critiques from the professionals. Since the beginning, we’ve also had an industry panel which brought in members of national performing rights organizations and various publishing companies to answer anyone’s questions on how to get noticed in the industry. These events as well as the networking between musicians at the festival, I think, has been really beneficial.
What is it you think that drives Nashville artists to continue to come down and be a part of Baton Rouge’s scene?
Well I can tell you they think our downtown area is great! They love being able to not have to drive anywhere and anything they need is in walking distance from their hotel on 3rd Street. And of course they love the food. This year we added a crawfish boil because they came one year, and no one was serving crawfish downtown! Once they’ve had it they come looking for it when they come back.
Who are you excited to have playing this year?
I’m very excited to have back Nashville Hall of Fame and 5 time Grammy nominee Jeffrey Steele. I have followed him for a long time and he’s generally one of the big performers at 30A. A lot of people may have heard of the songs he has written such as “What Hurts the Most” and “Here” by Rascal Flatts and “The Cowboy in Me” by Tim McGraw along with so many others. Truthfully, we had him our second year, and that was my goal to have him play at the festival. Him and his wife really enjoyed it, and I’ve been looking to get him back ever since. But I only have one hit songwriter show at the Manship and I can’t have the same person every year. After people went to that show, people kept asking when he was coming back and how great the performance was. It’s been three years and this is our 5th year so we’re bringing him back to headline!