March 7 was a wild night.
The Savannah Stopover Music Festival was in full force on its second day, and the offerings were stringy sweet.
Despite the freezing cold (which in Savannah is anywhere between 40 and 50 degrees), Moon River Brewing Co. and their really cold outdoor patio was the place to be. The swarms gathered around the open-flame-covered-in-plastic-hand-warmers and heard some really fantastic Americana-based music.
Also, Moon River has really good beer. It will keep you warm.
Local string band The Accomplices opened the night with a rousing set and River Whyless became the feature of the night, at least for me.
The Accomplices' string band infuses jazz, rock and folk into a sound that harkens the best of the old and new South. At moments, it felt like being at Blue Note in New York on a random Thursday (true story), if Blue Note was in Knoxville, Tenn.
It's hard to ignore the jazz influence, but with "story songs" told/sung by upright bassist and Savannah native Zach Smith, there was always a sense of the sound of the South lingering.
It an attempt to see all there was to see, I only heard second-hand the accolades of this mountain, which followed The Accomplices at Moon River. Apparently, they were really good and included a Radiohead cover in their set. Which I hate to say I missed.
Growing up at the base of the Appalachian Mountains, a stone's throw from Asheville, N.C., I was always inundated with the mountain sounds. Not always to my delight.
It's easy to get old and forget what home is. But, River Whyless, out of Asheville, was a stark reminder of the region that created Americana music. It sounded like the best of home to me.
For all intents, they are a folk/rock band, but perhaps unintentionally, they are so much more. With dissonant breakdowns that mostly include Halli Anderson's electric fiddle, the quartet expands, in a delightful manner, on their folk predecessors.
River Whyless opened with a tune called "Pigeon Feathers" from 2012's "A Stone, A Leaf, An Unfound Door." Anderson's sweet violin melody that opens the song seemed to lure the crowd in, like a siren of old. It became easy to forget the cold.
This band's immense talent became quickly evident with the percussion break midway through Pigeon Feathers. The entire band was banging on something. Most amusing was bassist Dan Shearin's percussion work on the rim of a bicycle tire that was acting as drummer Alex McWalter's crash symbol.
They played several songs from "A Stone, A Leaf, An Unfound Door" and even one song that had no name. Shearin dubbed it "P3" for me when I asked for his set list during a conversation afterward.
To my amazement, neither of these bands were heading to South By Southwest. However, I can say that Savannah is better for River Whyless' stopover, and if you haven't yet seen The Accomplices, go.