My first experience taking in Savannah Stopover has been a thrill ride of venue-hopping and listening to so many great bands I would otherwise have never known of, not to mention learning more about this fantastic city and forging some new friendships in the process.
What I'm loving about this music festival is the incredible variety of genres you can hear. Take in some bluegrass at one place, head down the road a few blocks to find a raging punk band, a few more blocks for a dance party and then yet another block for a group whose music can't even be defined.
On Thursday night, the last-minute venue change placed Good Graeff (which I really enjoyed) and St. Paul and The Broken Bones in the Knights of Columbus instead of Moon River's beer garden. The beer garden is a fun venue, for sure, but putting St. Paul in that great, big space was a blessing in disguise. Lead singer Paul Janeway's voice filled the room, which was completely packed with people smart enough to know they'd be in for a real treat with this one.
DO contributor Joshua Peacock made it out after his "real" job to catch Wye Oak's show late Thursday. He reviewed their CD a few weeks ago and has been listening ever since. "Well worthy last $20" and "Everyone needs more of this band in their life," he wrote on Twitter.
Then he had to spend half an hour helping me find my car, because I'm utterly hopeless when it comes to those things. What is this "dropping pins" you speak of? After a few false alarms (who knew there were so many Beetles in this city?) we finally found the car. Less than two blocks from the KC hall â€¦
So, I didn't personally make it to Club One on Thursday for Future Islands (for some reason my boss still expected me to come in and work Friday), but photographer Adriana Iris Boatwright and online producer Janay Kingsberry tell me it was a huge party atmosphere and the band brought their A game.
Friday night was a whirlwind of fun, along with my partners in crime, Adriana and Joshua, later joined by Erin Go Brahless (Anita Narcisse) of the Savannah Sweet Tease. We started out at Moon River, which despite the cold weather, was still packed with folks ready for this mountain, River Whyless and Caitlin Rose, who was joined by Los Colognes.
These groups get the trooper award for the festival, because as cold as we were in the crowd, all we had to do was stand there. They actually had to make music, of which they all did a fantastic job despite the weather. I also learned, via Joshua, how extreme weather, both hot and cold, affects stringed instruments. The more you know â€¦
After Moon River, it was a blur between Hang Fire and The Jinx, with Pile, Starlight Girls, Big Ups and Speedy Ortiz all part of our group's plans. Then we made the trek back to Knights of Columbus for Those Darlins, who were simply fantastic. The huge crowd was evidence that this band was on a lot of "must-see" lists. Joshua tried to bail early, claiming "old age" or somesuch, but between Anita and I screaming, "We're not dead yet!" in his face, he stayed to hear Those Darlins' last song, and judging by his blissful look, he didn't regret it.
They were wonderful, and right now are topping my list of ones to watch. So many of these band really deserve more attention, and let's hope they visit Savannah again before they make it big!
Another thing I'm loving at this fest is the chance to see these bands up close, and even tell them how much I enjoyed the show afterward. From the high-five line after Wye Oak to running into the only female member of River Whyless in the bathroom at the KC hall, these artists are accessible in a way that wouldn't happen any other time. Savannah Stopover truly is something special.
Well, now I'm off to meet Adriana and take in another 12 hours or so of music, after which I will mourn the end of Stopover IV and set my sights on next year â€¦
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Heather Henley is editor of DO Savannah. Contact her on Twitter @HeatherDHenley or firstname.lastname@example.org.