So you're thinking of going to Savannah Stopover, but you're overwhelmed by the sheer number of options?
Join the club.
My first suggestion for making sense of the madness is to trust the programmers.
The Savannah Stopover crew spends months listening to bands, dealing with booking agents and selecting venues. So, even if you know nothing about the bands, you're bound to catch some amazing acts just by floating from one downtown venue to another.
But if you have time for a little planning, you're sure to find a few personal gems in advance. You can build your afternoon or evening around those acts, and then see what happens from there.
I'm especially excited about some of the bands from the South in the Savannah Stopover IV lineup, but I generally force myself to sample as many styles of music and as many of the festival venues as I can.
So here I'll share my general plan for the three days and nights. Take this more as a sample itinerary than as a list of detailed suggestions.
The opening night party at Knights of Columbus is guaranteed to be something special. Just give a quick listen to the Birmingham soul band St. Paul & The Broken Bones and you won't want to miss that.
I'll be returning off and on throughout the rest of Thursday night to Congress Street Social Club, which is hosting the south Georgia boys in The Silver Palms, Knoxville's The Black Cadillacs and one of the festival's headliners, J. Roddy Walston & the Business from Baltimore.
I hope to catch a couple of other headliners in late shows on Thursday, including Wye Oak at the Knights of Columbus and Savannah's own Kylesa in a really late show at The Jinx.
Friday's options are dizzying. The music starts at 4 p.m., and there are great choices all night long.
Soft Science's record label showcase at Congress Street Social Club gives some shape to early Friday evening, and then I'll likely head to Moon River for this mountain from Johnson City and Nashville-based Caitlin Rose, who seems poised for stardom.
The real music junkies that I know are especially excited about three high-energy bands Friday at The Jinx: Pile, Big Ups and Speedy Ortiz.
I'll definitely wind up my Friday at Knights of Columbus for Those Darlins, but really, it's going to be hard to go wrong that night.
Saturday night features some really impressive festival headliners in late shows, but two of the most intriguing offerings are much earlier. The local label Furious Hooves hosts an afternoon showcase at Congress Street Social Club, and the free community concert headlined by The Weeks runs from 5:30-9:30 p.m. in Ellis Square.
I don't want to raise expectations for The Weeks too high, but I'm expecting their set to be one of the festival highlights. The band now lives in Nashville, but The Weeks' roots will always be in Mississippi.
But you could avoid every show that I just recommended and still have a great time at this year's Savannah Stopover. It's just a really strong lineup from top to bottom, and it all takes place in one of the most beautiful downtowns in America.
Bill Dawers writes City Talk in Savannah Morning News and blogs at Savannah Unplugged (www.billdawers.com). Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.