In its three previous incarnations, A-Town Get Down has held steadfast to its mission of honoring Alex Townsend, a multi-talented artist who passed away while attending SCAD.
To accomplish this goal, the Alex Townsend Memorial Foundation hosts an annual festival in Savannah that celebrates art, music and all things creative. We talked with the A-Town team of Tom Townsend, Margo Parks and Jose Ray to find out more about this year's event, which celebrates Alex "by doing on a grand scale what he did one-on-one - encourage and support the creative inclinations of all around him. Alex was a very nonjudgmental, open-minded, curious and supportive friend of creative people of all kinds. The A-Town Get Down now does that for him - on a broader scale than one person could ever do alone," Townsend says.
The trio shares that their emphasis this year was on the visual arts side, as well as the music side, with more emphasis on artists with strong regional roots.
"So much is new for 2014!" Parks says. "And Jose Ray, our visual arts director, has been doing a tremendous job getting the Savannah art community involved this year. We have more activities for kids and adults, more music and we are really maximizing the space at Charles Morris Center."
Last year, they opted to set up the stage on the lawn behind Charles Morris Center, but the chilly weather was a factor. This year, they are also bringing in a large tent so that if the weather doesn't cooperate, there will be an enclosed space for the Patio Stage.
"We do encourage people to dress in layers," Parks says.
They selected the Charles Morris Center because it's "an architectural gem and exemplifies what the A-Town Get Down celebrates - creativity of all kinds," Townsend says.
The A-Town team believes the event has been a success so far for several reasons, including the variety of both major musical artists and large-scale live art projects, welcoming all ages and creative interests and the hands-on interactivity that is available.
The new Bu-Ba-Q will have food for meat lovers, while The Sentient Bean will have coffee and vegetarian options available. But it takes more than good food to make a great event, and A-Town is full of talent and experiences this year.
"Students from the SCAD painting, illustration and ceramics departments will be showcasing their skills at the event," Ray says. "The painting department will be painting portraits of anyone willing to sit for them. First come, first served - so get there early and sign up.
"Kehoe Remix with Katherine Sandoz will be a great opportunity for A-Town attendees to participate in a large-scale outdoor installation," he adds.
Other notables include the The Loop It Up Yarn Bomb with Molly Lieberman and Jessica Leigh Lebos.
"Students from various schools and after-school programs will be using weaving techniques to create fabric that will be assembled together to 'yarn bomb' sculptures by Jerome Meadows. Keep your eyes peeled, because they'll be traveling around town the week leading up to the event," Ray says.
"And I'm excited that Savannah native Chip Ellis is flying in from L.A. to talk about maintaining guitars and he is also donating a guitar that he designed for Fender," Parks says. "We will be raffling it off that same day.
"Jackson Pianos will also be in from out of town, showing and talking about the parts of the piano," she says. "They are very kid-friendly activities that will be both creative and educational and allow them to take a little bit of A-Town Get Down home with them."
Lots of RSVPs have already spilled in for the Open Jam hosted by Walter Parks, and SeeSAW will also be hosting one-on-one drawing collaborations between professional and aspiring artists. People can sign up for this opportunity on the festival's website.
"And don't miss the Bishop's Court - an unlikely venue within the venue - a small, somewhat hidden, acoustically rich space where some of the most intimate acts take place. So come, stay and explore," Townsend says.