Trinity United Methodist Church has solidified itself as a premier music venue in Savannah after opening its sanctuary several years ago to regular concerts and events.
Trinity’s music director Jared Hall (also a member of local gypsy jazz band Velvet Caravan) began the Thursday Night Opry three years ago to showcase local folk, Americana and even rock acts on a regular basis, and modeled it after the old single-microphone shows at the Grand Ole Opry.
Hall teamed up with Jon Waits, a Savannah-based photographer and singer/songwriter, for the quarterly spotlight beginning its fourth year now.
The two decided to kick off each season with a singer/songwriter edition of the Opry. Waits produced the lineup for this year’s edition, pulling together a diverse group of singer/songwriters who are not so often showcased in Savannah.
“It’s a good way to get the year rolling,” Waits said. “It brings in a wider audience, because you have all of these different performers. It’s not focused on one particular sound or one particular style.”
This will be the third year the singer/songwriter edition will kick off the Thursday Night Opry series and the lineup is packed with heavy hitters and immensely talented musicians.
“Last year, I really wanted to give an opportunity, a stage, to performers around the area who weren’t really working the circuit like a lot of us were,” Waits said. “That went over great. Last year was a mish-mash of that and more seasoned performers.
“This year, it’s definitely all seasoned performers. But we’re doing a split. We’re bringing in three artists from Atlanta and five from Savannah. It’s a little more regional this time.”
A ripe group of seasoned musicians are traveling to Savannah for the Opry. Blake Rainey of Blake Rainey and His Demons, a staple of the Atlanta scene, will be performing his alt-country in a solo appearance.
For the local lineup, there are several treats. Dare Dukes, executive director of the local Deep Center, will perform a rare live show of his indie folk. Duke’s performance history in Savannah includes Savannah Stopover in 2012 as well as a performance with Jim White at an Opry several years ago.
Kurtis Schumm, owner of Tybee Island Social Club, Tybee Island Fish Camp and Bo Bien Hut, will also make a rare appearance. Prior to being a restaurateur, Schumm was signed to Columbia Records and endorsed by Gibson Guitars.
“Schumm’s been so welcoming and supportive of having people play out on Tybee, I thought it would be interesting and a nice treat for everyone to hear him,” Waits said. “He’s really talented.”
Two local musicians will play in support of newly released material. Local bassist and frontwoman for Lulu The Giant Rachael Shaner is set to release a new album next month. Coy Campbell, frontman and songwriter behind Nightingale News, will be performing a solo show of his latest material entirely on piano. It’s a rare departure for the guitar-based singer/songwriter.
Local singer/songwriter Sarah Poole rounds out the bill. Poole has released two EPs and is the frontwoman for Ember City.
“I had myself on the lineup initially, because I wasn’t sure everyone was going to come through,” Waits said. “I had to take myself off of it and I am slightly envious now!”
There is a suggested donation attached to all the shows at Trinity. However, it is highly recommend patrons donate. The majority of the money goes to the artists performing, with a small portion going back to the church and into the music series’ coffers.
“I am excited to bring this lineup to life,” Waits said. “It’s a good one. It’s a really good one. I am really happy everyone decided to do it.”
IF YOU GO
What: Thursday Night Opry Singer/Songwriter Edition
When: 7:30-10 p.m. Jan. 19
Where: Trinity United Methodist Church, 225 W. President St.
Cost: $10 suggested donation