Songwriters sought for GumTree Festival competition

By Sheena Barnett/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – The choice of the best song submitted at this year’s GumTree Festival is up to 15 music fans instead of just one.
In previous years, just one person has judged the Songwriters Competition of the GumTree Festival. This year, however, the best-written song will be chosen by a panel of 15.
“There will be 15 voices instead of just one,” said Tony Caldwell, who’s over the competition. “I think there will be more diversity.”
Past judges for the competition include Cary Hudson and Jimbo Mathus.
Tony’s wife, Missy, helps with the competition and said the panel is very diverse, but they can all agree on one thing: They each love music.
“They’re musicians, songwriters, business owners, people of the community that play music or seek out good music, or are artists themselves,” she said.
Tony said the songs will be judged at one long listening party of all of the songs submitted.
He said he is excited about this year’s performers at the GumTree Festival, like Thompson Ward and George McConnell, who has played with Widespread Panic, Kudzu Kings and Beanland.
Ward’s music is “rock, country, funk, blues, mixed all together,” Tony said.
Tony’s band, Foshorchestra, will perform at the GumBall kick-off party on May 6, at the Festival on Saturday and then at Romie’s that night.
This year the music is being sponsored by Romie’s, a choice that fits in well with the overall feel of the music at the festival, said Kit Stafford, festival director. Both Romie’s Grocery and BBQ locations host live music each weekend.
“It’s an exciting time to be downtown and involved with music and GumTree,” Missy said.

– GumTree Festival music lineup

Romie’s Stage

Saturday, May 7
Songwriter showcase
Thomas Jackson Orchestra
George McConnell & Daniel Karlish
Justin Posey and Drew Gatlin

Sunday, May 8
Scott Chism & the Better Half
The Embrace
Thompson Ward

– Download an application for the Songwriters Competition at Deadline is April 22. For more, contact Tony Caldwell at (662) 832-1658 or

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