Revival Fest is back. But if you went to the inaugural Southern music festival last year, then you need to know one important new rule: no coolers.
After a "misunderstanding" with the health department canceled last year's planned oyster and pig roast, festival goers were allowed to bring their own food for the day-long music festival. That's not the case this year, but after you see the list of vendors for this year's event, you'll be happy to leave the cooler at home.
Revival Fest is produced by MusicFile Productions, a local music promotion and event company and the same people responsible for Savannah Stopover. The event takes place Sept. 20 from noon to 11 p.m. at the Coastal Heritage Society's Georgia State Railroad Museum, 655 Louisville Road.
According to Kayne Lanahan, CEO of MusicFile Productions, Revival Fest is "basically a celebration of the best up and coming bands in Southern music."
The event is billed as the best of the new South and Lanahan explains what that means.
"It's really more of a resurgence of a genre that has always been associated with the South, but people are paying more attention to it now. It's kind of like that saying, 'Everything old is new again.'
"We first saw the trend in the UK with Mumford and Sons ... It's music that has lots of harmonies, lots of banjo, multiple instruments. The bands that are really doing that well are right at our back door.
"Five to 10 years ago, everything was coming out of Brooklyn, but now the trend focuses on what we would call more traditional Southern music, and it has caught on everywhere."
She says the purpose of Revival Fest is to celebrate not just the music but also the food.
"I love the concept of Jazz Fest in New Orleans, and Southern food is an important element. Last year we had a few hiccups with the health department, but that's behind us.
"Pacci is doing a pig roast and all our craft beers will be from Georgia."
Local and regional breweries will be featured at the festival with brews from Southbound, Red Hare, Moon River and Service Brewing Co.
"Service will release a special beer just for Oktoberest ... and they will debut it at the festival."
Along with the whole pig roast, local restaurant Pacci and Chef Roberto Leoci will also offer an assortment of signature barbecue sauces, and Bayou CafÃ© will serve up hamburgers, hot dogs and veggie wraps.
And you can't celebrate the South without bourbon.
"Ampersand is going to curate all the bourbon-based specialty drinks for the day with their mixologists making four different specialty cocktails with special names to pay tribute to the bands," Lanahan adds.
Food and drinks are not included with admission ticket, and Lanahan says proceeds from alcohol sales will benefit Coastal Heritage Society's Tricentennial Park Sites.
A full list of menu items, prices and ticket info can be found at www.revivalfest.org.
TWO STAGE, 14 BANDS
Local favorites Sweet Thunder Strolling Band will kick things off at 12:30 p.m., then the bands will take turns on the two stages.
"There is a stage in the old paint shop," Lanahan says. "It's a huge space, about 14,000 square feet. They used to use the space to repair trains.
"One stage is outside near a big grove that sits on the hill and you can see Talmadge Bridge. Everyone who came last year blown away by the space. It's incredible."
The bands play in 30-minute segments, so when one band ends their set, another band starts up at the opposite stage.
"We don't overlap any of the music. Literally, you can see every single band."
The festival is an all-ages event and takes place rain or shine. Re-entry is allowed with a festival wristband.
"Some people like to take the kids home and come back or some people may want to come for a few bands and then come back.
"It's a full day going until 11 p.m., so we try to give people as much flexibility as we could."
REVIVAL FEST MARKETPLACE
According to Lanahan, right as you come into the festival, a marketplace will be set up to showcase original products from local and regional vendors.
"It's in a nice little shady spot; you can wander in and out and shop and buy yummy treats.
"We reached out to people in the region who are making exceptional artisinal products so we can put a spotlight on them.
"It's really a collection of people in the region who are making really cool things."
Vendors include Lovelane Designs, Satchel, Prospector Co., Roots Up Gallery, KMM & Co., 13 Bricks Clothing, Dept. 7 East's Marche, ASI Tea, PERC Coffee, King of Pops and Bruce Julian's Best Bloody Mary Mix. Art Rise Savannah will showcase vinyl spin art on old records and Steam Print Co. will be printing Revival Fest T-shirts on-site.
Savannah Bicycle Campaign will also offer a bike valet for anyone who wants to ride their bike to the festival.
Also new this year is the VIP (Very Important Pig) Lounge.
"It's adjacent to outdoor stage," Lanahan says. "It has a bar and free beer while it lasts. It's a cool setup. We call it 'Southern Casbah,'" she laughs. "It has a real Moroccan feel."
VIP tickets are $75 and also include priority access to the festival's official Midnight Ramble after party at The Jinx. You must be 21 and older to gain access to the lounge.
Festival goers can get a jump start on the food and music at the kickoff party on Sept. 19 at Pacci, in the secret garden of the Brice Hotel. The fun begins at 6:30 p.m., and the $60 ticket is all inclusive, with a menu curated by Chef Roberto Leoci with sommelier-selected wines, craft beers and a signature Revival Fest Pacci cocktail. The event also includes a private concert in the garden with Cedric Burnside (grandson of RL Burnside).
The festival ends at 11 p.m. but the fun continues at The Jinx for a special after party. The party starts at midnight and will feature a repeat show by one of the bands from the festival.
"We don't announce the band until after they play their set at Revival Fest," Lanahan says.