The Savannah Music Festival unveiled its impressive 2018 lineup last week. The 17-day event is one of the city's hallmark cultural happenings - check out Joshua Peacock's overview here in Do - and next year's lineup suggests the fest might be going in some interesting directions.
Of primary note is the festival finale at the newly refurbished and redesigned Trustees Garden on April 14. The daylong event features 12 acts on three stages, including headliners Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, Tedeschi Trucks Band and Gillian Welch.
The final day also includes Stringband Spectacular, the culminating concert for the SMF's Acoustic Music Seminar. The annual show is consistently one of the festival highlights, but it has always competed with other standalone ticketed events on the SMF's penultimate night.
The finale at Trustees Garden also includes Velvet Caravan with guest Jessica Ann Best. The SMF has rarely booked Savannah-based artists who play regular gigs around town, but Velvet Caravan seems like a perfect addition to the day's lineup.
Charleston's Spoleto Festival has long had a festival finale at an outdoor venue, but the 2017 concert was held at Middleton Place, about 14 miles from downtown.
We don't yet know how many large events will be booked at Trustees Garden throughout the year or how well the space will work, so I don't want to hype things too much, but it's hard not to be excited about the possibilities of having such a large, versatile venue in the heart of the city.
The SMF is also producing six classical performances at the newly unveiled Yamacraw Center for the Performing Arts at the Esther F. Garrison School for the Arts on West Jones Street.
We don't know how often the venue will be used by organizations other than the Savannah-Chatham County Public School System (though the Savannah Philharmonic is hosting the season's remaining chamber concerts there), but the 600-seat concert hall with three levels for seating is a tremendous addition to our existing venues.
The addition of Trustees Garden and the Yamacraw Center don't entirely solve Savannah's "venue problem," as many of us call it, but the two new spaces create some exciting possibilities.
Tickets for the Savannah Music Festival are now on sale, and some shows seem to be selling briskly, so you probably don't want to dawdle too long.
Bill Dawers writes City Talk in Savannah Morning News and blogs at Savannah Unplugged (www.billdawers.com) and hissing lawns (www.hissinglawns.com). Email firstname.lastname@example.org.