The Savannah Music Festival will stage a reunion for a very particular duo.
Chris Thile and Mike Marshall are set to wield their mandolins on March 22 at the Morris Center. Arguably two of the greatest mandolin players in the history of American music, Thile and Marshall recently played several dates along the West coast.
According to Marshall, prior to a few weeks ago, the last time Thile and Marshall played together was in Savannah.
Both string aficionados have worked with several different projects over the years. Together they've produced two albums, 2006's "Into the Cauldron" and "Live Duets." While they will surely pull from their collaboration, they also have scores of music to look to for the live set.
"We've grown up since we last played together," Marshall said. "We look back at that recording ('Into the Cauldron') and it's been eight years. He's done so much, and I've done so much, all of the sudden all of that plays into what we do live now. We've matured nicely. It is a very exciting show. It's two crazy mando-maniacs!"
Most recently, Thile appeared on Showtime's "Inside 'Inside Llewyn Davis.'" The Joel and Ethan Coen movie is the story of a fictional folk singer in the early 1960s. Thile was featured on the movie's soundtrack.
The Coen brothers, both great admirers and fans of Americana, and their partner in crime, T. Bone Burnett, are partly responsibly for the recent neo-Americana revival in American pop culture, according to Marshall.
"America has a deep and great tradition of music," Marshall said. "It seems to surface up in pop culture about every seven to 10 years. It's almost like people are discovering it for the first time again. It tends to wear new clothes every time it surfaces up. It gets brought to light in a different doorway.
"It's always been there for people to love. I think it's cool," he said.
"It's usually attached to a movie," Marshall continued. "I guess you could trace what's happened in the last few years all the way back to 'O Brother' (Coen brothers' film 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?') That really helped people become aware of our music. It's amazing that it seems so foreign. That's the product of the airways being controlled by too much crummy pop music."
Thile will also reunite this year with his most popular act, Nickel Creek. The trio will play the Savannah Civic Center on April 22. Get tickets here.
Marshall is no stranger to the Savannah Music Festival and is of firm belief that music festivals help to continue the tradition of American acoustic music.
"This might be the six or seventh time I've been there (SMF)," Marshall said. "It's an extraordinary festival. It plays directly into my philosophy of music. It's shining a light on all these different styles, and putting them up on a shelf where they deserve to be. Saying to the the audience, this is all the music. You might not think you like bluegrass, and you might not think you like Beethoven or jazz or world music, but if you've seen it, you might change your mind. It does a great job of educating an audience."
Marshall's latest work with longtime collaborators the Turtle Island Quartet is a beautiful remark on the expanse that music can take.
With influences ranging from traditional folk, classical, jazz, blues, bluegrass and Indian classic music, the self-titled album exemplifies not only the best of American traditional music, but also all the influences that have played on American music.
"We have these moments in our history, as a culture, where we sort of say, oh wait, we have this musical style that's really worth listening to. It's our music and let's honor it," Marshall said.