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Island Hopper festival brings local artist to Fort Myers Beach

September 26, 2018
By JESSICA SALMOND ( , Fort Myers Beach Bulletin, Fort Myers Beach Observer

It's the last weekend of the fifth annual Island Hopper Songwriter Festival -and this weekend, the festival comes to the sandy white beaches of Fort Myers Beach.

The performances start Friday evening and continue throughout the day Saturday and Sunday.

More than 30 talented artists will sing their tunes at eight locations: Cabanas Beach Bar at DiamondHead Resort; Lighthouse Tiki Bar & Grill; Pierside Grill; Yucatan Beach Stand; Matanzas on the Bay; Nervous Nellie's; Pink Shell Beach Resort and Pinchers on Fort Myers Beach.

Article Photos

Ayla Lynn performs 100 shows a year and travels throughout Florida, the Carolinas and Tennessee.


A full schedule of artists and showtimes can be found on the event website,

The Voice contestant and Fort Myers Beach celebrity Sheena Brook is in the line-up - and this year, she'll be joined on the beach by another Lee County artist.

It's Ayla Lynn Nayo's first time as an official Island Hopper artist, but the 16-year-old Cape Coral resident is no stranger to performing.

She goes by Ayla Lynn, and she's been playing a guitar since she was 9 and has been a songwriter since she was 11. After watching her brother, Christian, take guitar lessons, she wanted to give it a try - and the rest is history.

"I picked up a guitar at 9. I loved music and it's all I want to do," Ayla said.

Ayla writes and performs her original songs both locally, state-wide and in Nashville. She's a regular at Cabanas on the beach.

She describes her style of music as "country pop."

"I focus more on a nowadays style, the kind you hear now (on the radio)," she said. "Not like traditional country, I put in my own beat."

Some of her favorite artists now are Maren Morris, Carrie Underwood, Danielle Bradbery and Thomas Rhett.

Ayla said she uses both her own experiences and interactions she sees between others as a basis for her songs. Her current favorite, "Wanna Be that Girl," was inspired by a scene she saw at a bar where she was performing: a guy and a girl meeting up, being together and falling in love.

"I see people connect, get to know each other, watch them fall in love. It's about wanting to be in that girl's shoes at that moment," she said.

Until she was 14, Ayla was performing at open mic nights. On her 14th birthday, she got to play her own first gig. Ever since, it's been all about music.

Her parents, Robert and Katalin, go to her gigs and help her set up. Robert says he's been her manager since she started getting more serious. And they both support her pursuit of her passion, he said.

Ayla opted to switch from traditional high school to Lee County Virtual School, which allows her to keep up her studies as she travels to and from Nashville to study with her voice coach and tour different parts of the country to perform - and she plays about 100 shows a year. She's played in the Carolinas, Tennessee and throughout Florida, Robert said.

"She's actually paid for her own equipment with her gig money. She's self-sufficient at a very young age," he said.

Ayla is hopeful the Island Hopper will give her some exposure - as well as establish more connections in the music community for more gig line-ups or even a record deal in the future.

"We support her 100 percent," Robert said.

Ayla will be playing Friday evening from 7 to 8 p.m. and Saturday from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. at the Lighthouse Tiki Bar and Saturday from 6 to 7 p.m. at Cabanas.

To hear her style before her performances, visit

Ayla is one of many artists participating in this year's Island Hopper. The full schedule of Fort Myers Beach performances Friday, Sept. 28 through Sunday, Sept. 30, can be found on the event website. With the exception of a few special events, a majority of performances are free.

The Island Hopper also has an app for participants to create a customized schedule so they don't miss the artists they want to see.

As for Ayla, she said she's excited to help represent Lee County in this unique music festival.

"I checked the Island Hopper out last year, and it was amazing to see all the artists come to my area, where I live. I's nice to see a music scene brought down to Cape Coral and Fort Myers," Ayla said. "I'm really honored to be able to represent Cape Coral and Lee County as a musician of this area."



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