Matt Casey didn’t grow up with country music and isn’t a musician. So why is he running the country-music-focused Martha’s Vineyard Songwriting Festival?

“Well, it’s kind of long journey,” he said.

Mr. Casey lives in New England but frequently travels to Nashville on business. He loved the music scene there and wanted to get involved.

Organizer and founder Matt Casey with Ayla Brown.

“I was pretty sure I could bring some creative ideas,” he said. He put together a network of musicians and songwriters called New England to Nashville (NETN) which started out with a few friends who were traveling between the areas. Over the years it has grown to a collective of over 850 members. The members of the group, hundreds of which live in Nashville and many on Martha’s Vineyard, all must to have connections to both locations.

“We really just got together to go over songwriting and network,” Matt said. “And it led to all these things including the Vineyard Songwriting Festival, which is our biggest event.”

Liz DiSessa is one of the year-round Island residents who is a part of NETN and also helps run the songwriting festival by booking national musicians and hosting the artists at her house. Ms. DiSessa got involved with NETN to encourage songwriters to come to the Island.

“A lot of the quality professional songwriting is centered around L.A. and Nashville right now,” she said. “If you’re hoping to be part of that network, and you can’t live in those places functionally, this has been an amazing group in terms of connecting you with a professional network.”

The co-host of the festival, Jilly Martin, is also an Islander and will perform in the event’s Rising Star category.

The Martha’s Vineyard Songwriting Festival runs from Sept. 16 to 20, with the first two days taking place in Boston, and the following three dates on the Vineyard.

This is the fourth year for the festival. Mr. Casey said that in the early days he and his friends felt like “needles in a haystack writing country music up here in New England. Once we started seeing there were a lot of us in the same boat we realized we weren’t as unique.”

The festival focuses on both the craft and business of commercial songwriting and will feature classes and personal critiques by professional country artists such as Steve Seskin, Mason Douglas, Susan Cattaneo, J.T. Harding, Deric Ruttan and Bonnie Hayes. The event opens with a barbecue and “guitar pull” (a Nashville-style jam) at Mr. Casey’s house for workshop attendees and anyone with a VIP ticket for the festival performances. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to Alex’s Place, the teen center where festival classes will be held, and to the Alliance for Children Foundation.

The highlight of the festival is the Saturday night performance at the Lamppost.

Mr. Casey feels that Martha’s Vineyard is an ideal place for the festival.

“I spent a lot of time as a kid on Martha’s Vineyard,” he said. “And my family ended up getting a summer house there later so I was a little older when I was reunited with the Island. And as an adult, one thing I noticed coming back to Martha’s Vineyard was how much music is really woven into the fabric of the Island culture. Now we can give the Martha’s Vineyard music fans a taste of what it’s like down in Nashville every night.”

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