WILD SHOWCASE: This year’s Sing Out Loud Festival will feature Pokey LaFarge and The Watson Twins. (Roz Zekavat)

Live Wildly Showcase takes place Sept. 21-22 at Francis Field

Initially started in 2016 to attract tourists to St. Augustine, Florida, in the off season, today the Sing Out Loud Festival also benefits the environment through a new partnership with the Live Wildly Foundation.

Sing Out Loud’s Live Wildly Showcase takes place Sept. 21-22 at Francis Field in historic downtown St. Augustine. It is the latest example of the festival’s ongoing commitment to collaborating with non-profit organizations on initiatives important to the community.

“We wanted to create a signature event and then add purpose to it,” said Gabe Pellicer, CEO and president of the non-profit SJC Cultural Events, which operates Sing Out Loud as well as the St. Augustine Amphitheatre, Ponte Vedra Concert Hall and the Fort Mose Jazz & Blues Series. “If you are going to attract people to our town, music is the passion point.”

This year’s partnership with Live Wildly Foundation, a nonprofit started by Tampa-based tech entrepreneur Arnie Bellini, aims to raise awareness of the importance of conserving Florida’s natural resources and wildlife while balancing growth in the state. The foundation’s priority is the Florida Wildlife Corridor, an 18-million-acre wildlife superhighway providing safe migration passage for some of Florida’s most endangered species, including the Florida panther.

Highlights include a free concert by the eclectic troubadour Pokey LaFarge at Colonial Oak Music Park on Sept. 13 and The Watson Twins performing at Spinster Abbott’s on Sept. 14. The festival’s free programming continues into the second weekend with the St. Augustine Record Fair, presented by ToneVendor Records, at The St. Augustine Amphitheatre on Sept. 15.

“Our team is committed to using the platforms of our programming like Sing Out Loud and the Fort Mose Jazz & Blues Series to make a meaningful community impact,” Pellicer said. “Our shared values with the Florida State Parks Foundation naturally led us to a partnership with Live Wildly. It’s an honor to collaborate with them, merging art with action to champion land conservation and preserve the environment we all treasure.”

“As a family foundation we engage with various stakeholders to build coalitions, foster collaboration between and amongst stakeholders, and empower stakeholders by providing resources that can help to advance conservation efforts,” explained Meredith Budd, director of strategic initiatives for the foundation. “But it’s not just about conservation for conservation’s sake. We are striving to achieve a balance between the needs of the environment with the needs of growth and development.”

Sing Out Loud, which offers multiple cultural and music events including a songwriter festival and local artist showcases across three weekends in September, and the Live Wildly Showcase provide a valuable platform for reaching a large group of people concerned about conservation.

“The festival combines music with community – and we are honored to have this year’s festival titled the Live Wildly Showcase – which is really helping to promote and inspire a movement to protect and connect wild Florida,” offered Budd. “We believe that if we can develop an appreciation for and value of what makes Florida Florida, then we can make sure our most important natural resources are at the forefront of decision making for generations to come.”

Festival attendees are encouraged to “Join the Movement” by signing a pledge stating that they want to protect Wild Florida. For every new member who joins, Live Wildly will donate $1 to land conservation efforts within the state. Additionally, $10 from each ticket for Sing Out Loud Festival’s Live Wildly Showcase will be dedicated to conservation efforts within St. Johns County. In 2023, the first supersized Sing Out Loud Showcase featured Mumford and Sons and Black Keys, which generated $140,000 for St. Johns County School District music education and to the First Responders Project for mental health services support.

During the event this year, Live Wildly Foundation will have on-site activations for people to sign the pledge.

“One of the most impactful outcomes of this partnership is that the festival is donating $10 from every ticket to conservation efforts here in St. Augustine and within the County,” said Budd. “But aside from the financial benefit from the ticket sales of this partnership, there is a great benefit to reaching the large Sing Out Loud audience for our Join the Movement campaign.”

Tickets for the Live Wildly Showcase are on sale exclusively via Sing Out Loud Festival website. Single-day general admission ($159), general admission plus ($289) and platinum ($509) tickets are available, as well as two-day general admission plus ($509). The general admission plus and platinum level tickets offer additional perks including air-conditioned lounges, restrooms and food and beverage options. Two-day general admission and two-day platinum tickets are sold out.

WILD PREMIUM: VIP spaces are part of a $4 million production build-out for the event. (Roz Zekavat))

Due to the impact on tourism in St. Augustine, which was founded in 1565 and claims to be the oldest city in the U.S., the city subsidizes the multi-week event at a cost of $1 million, according to Pellicer, an eighth-generation resident from a family of musicians.

The Sept. 21 Live Wildly Showcase features Eric Church, Ryan Bingham with The Texas Gentlemen, JJ Grey & Mofro, Molly Tuttle & Golden Highway, The Breeders, Ole 60 and indie folk singer-songwriter Tré Burt. The Sept. 22 lineup includes Grammy-nominated festival favorite Noah Kahan, Norah Jones, Marcus King, Sierra Ferrell, Kevin Morby and brother duo Nat & Alex Wolff.

Budd said an additional benefit of the partnership is connecting with conservation-minded artists including JJ Grey, who has written and sung about Florida’s delicate ecosystem and the impact of development. Grey also signed the Join the Movement pledge.

“We are super excited to have JJ Grey as a spokesperson for our Join the Movement campaign and similar to what we plan to do at the Sing Out Loud festival, we had our first in person activation at his concert at the St. Augustine Amphitheatre Memorial Day weekend,” explained Budd.

During his set, Grey encouraged the audience to Join the Movement.

“We were overwhelmed with the gratitude for how many people resonated with our messaging and took the pledge to protect wild Florida,” Budd said. “It was a huge success and makes us even more excited to see how Sing Out Loud unfolds and what the future holds for additional partnership opportunities with SOL, the Amp and beyond.”

“I totally see this moving forward being the Farm Aid of conservation for the state of Florida,” added Pellicer. “We all felt what needs to happen right now – especially in our town – we need to try everything we can to get as much land in conservation as we possibly can.”