Judges announced for Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest in WWALS River Revue

Hahira, GA, July 27, 2023 — The judges for the Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest in the WWALS River Revue are Joe Smothers from Lowndes County, Georgia, Anna Stange from Madison County, Florida, and Tony Buzella from Columbia County, Florida. Joe and Tony have judged before; Anna is new to this Contest.

“I’m very pleased to welcome Joe Smothers and Tony Buzella back again, plus new judge Anna Stange,” said WWALS President Sara Jay Jones. “We’re gonna rock the Autumn Equinox.”

[Songwriting Flyer 2023]
Songwriting Flyer 2023

Judge Joe Smothers is from Reidsville, NC, lives in Valdosta, and often plays The Salty Snapper, with a second home in Cortez, FL, with his wife Murphy. Joe’s mom Betty purchased a Stella guitar at the local pawn shop when he was thirteen. Born in the Piedmont area of North Carolina in 1950, he toured with his teenage inspiration, the legendary Doc Watson, and played on more than a dozen albums with him. Joe has performed at every Merle Fest (31) and was asked to perform at Doc’s funeral. Joe toured extensively with Jack Lawrence as a supporting act for John Prine, Leo Kottke and Emmylou Harris, to name a few. He has released two albums: These Things I Know, and ‘Terpretations. His song “The Three Buglers” — a mix of fiction and history on Taps — won him a first place at the Walnut Valley Festival in Winfield, KS, in 2007.

“We are excited to see and hear the talented songwriters and discuss future water protection goals,” said new organizing committee member Matt Prentice.

Judge Anna Stange moved to Madison, FL, in 2019, after 25 years as a music teacher, performer,and educator in the Chicago area. Well known for her multicultural music programs, Anna performed at festivals, libraries, and community events, from Key West to Seldovia, Alaska. Her most recent album, When Will We Ever Learn: Songs For Peace and Justice, is a mix of folk and original songs. She currently homesteads on six acres in North Florida with her spouse, 15 chickens, and two lovable mutts. “I am honored to be a part of this community-led event that aims to celebrate and inspire our talented local musicians,” said Lauren Lewis, also a new member of the organizing committee.

Judge Tony Buzella lives in Lake City, and was raised in Miami, FL. He studied under many great teachers, and he has performed with many great musicians over the years, including Frank Hubble, Charlie “Brown” Weatherbee, Rusty Hammerstrum, Leo Villar, Carlos Guzman, and the “Our Gang” Dixieland band during the 1960s and ‘70s. He has also performed with Pete Fountain, Bonnie Dawson, Freddie Palmer, Jerry Clower, Grandpa Jones, The Original Salt & Pepper Trio, The Gainesville Jazz Orchestra, Alfonso Levy, and many others.

“I beat Bird last year with my song and I’m gonna beat him again this year,” said musician David Rodock. They’ll each have to recuse themselves from the organizing committee when they submit a song.

This first-ever WWALS gala is an indoor fundraising gala, with a catered sit-down meal, speakers, a silent auction, a kayak raffle, and the Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest. It will be held 6-10 PM, Friday, September 22, 2023, at the Turner Center for the Arts in Valdosta, GA.

Follow this link for tickets, sponsorship opportunities, and more:


“Submissions can be songs about any river, stream, spring, sink, swamp, lake, or pond in the Suwannee River Basin or Estuary (except not the Santa Fe Basin; that has its own contest),” said Suwannee Riverkeeper John S. Quarterman.

Here’s the entry form:


“Thanks to our sponsors so far, Landis International, Agri-Supply, Georgia Beer Company, and Georgia Power. You, too, can be a sponsor!” said Scotti Jay, longtime organizing committee member and new WWALS board member.

WWALS Executive Director Gretchen Quarterman said, “Your ticket or sponsorship helps support everything WWALS does, from water quality tests, paddle outings and swimming & boating lessons, to chainsaw cleanups, and beyond to advocacy to stop trash at its sources, strip mines, and pipelines. We work for water trails, solar power, and the Right to Clean Water, with growing engagement for youth and marginalized communities.”

About WWALS: Since June 2012, WWALS Watershed Coalition, Inc. (WWALS) is an IRS 501(c)(3) nonprofit charity working for a healthy watershed with clean, swimmable, fishable, drinkable water.

Mission: WWALS advocates for conservation and stewardship of the surface waters and groundwater of the Suwannee River Basin and Estuary, in south Georgia and north Florida, among them the Withlacoochee, Willacoochee, Alapaha, Little, Santa Fe, and Suwannee River watersheds, through education, awareness, environmental monitoring, and citizen activities.

Our Watershed: The 10,000-square-mile WWALS territory includes the Suwannee River from the Okefenokee Swamp to the Gulf of Mexico, plus the Suwannee River Estuary, and tributaries such as the Withlacoochee and Alapaha Rivers as far north as Cordele in Georgia, as well as parts of the Floridan Aquifer, which is the primary water source for drinking, agriculture, and industry for millions of Georgia and Florida residents.

Suwannee Riverkeeper: Since December 2016, WWALS is the WATERKEEPER® Alliance Member for the Suwannee River Basin and Estuary as Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®, which is a project and a staff position of WWALS focusing on our advocacy.

Contact: John S. Quarterman
Suwannee Riverkeeper


2 thoughts on “Judges announced for Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest in WWALS River Revue

  1. Pingback: Juneteenth and River Ferries: Speakers in WWALS River Revue 2023-09-22 | WWALS Watershed Coalition (WWALS) is Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

  2. Pingback: Last Day to send in your song for the Suwannee Riverkeeper Songwriting Contest in WWALS River Revue 2023-08-02 | WWALS Watershed Coalition (WWALS) is Suwannee RIVERKEEPER®

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