Savannah Stopover Music Festival and parent company MusicFile Productions are collaborating with El-Rocko Lounge for a unique summer series. It’s an experiment of sorts, that includes booking early shows at the Whitaker Street venue best known as a late-night party spot.
A tremendous recent show with Okey Dokey and Babe Club started well after dark, but strong crowds also turned out for 6 p.m. shows by Tyrone Cotton from Louisville and Tybee-based Willie Jackson Blues Band.
Savannah is known for late shows, but there is clearly demand for early gigs. Venues like Jazz’d Tapas Bar routinely have live music as early as 7 p.m., and even The Jinx, where the music often doesn’t start until after 10:30 p.m., has for many years hosted Damon and the Sh!tkickers from 6 to 8 p.m. Saturdays.
"El-Rocko continues to increase their commitment to late-night live music, so we thought it would be fun to extend that to some after-work shows on Friday during the slower summer months," said MusicFile Productions CEO and founder Kayne Lanahan. "It's really a fun experiment to see if people like the time and the concept and so far, they do!"
Next up in the Savannah Stopover series at El-Rocko will be Sam Morrow at 6 p.m. (doors at 5:30 p.m.) July 27. Tickets ($6) are available in advance via Ticketfly or at the bar. Tickets will also be sold at the door.
The Los Angeles-based Morrow comes to town in support of his third album, “Concrete and Mud,” which has garnered strong reviews. “Quick Fix,” the rollicking first single from the record, was premiered by “American Songwriter” in January.
Morrow’s work is new to me, but his country sound and full-band performance should be a big draw here in Savannah. Songs like “Paid by the Mile,” “Cigarettes” and “Mississippi River” powerfully evoke the emotions and contradictions of traveling the expanses of America.
"The series is a combination of touring bands and local bands," Lanahan said. "We're excited that Sam Morrow is up next. He's from L.A. by way of Houston and his recent album has been getting high praise from national press like Rolling Stone. It's a really raucous and fun blend of outlaw country, southern rock, funk and some great songwriting."
The series at El-Rocko will continue Aug. 17 with the Anders Thomsen Trio. Thomsen is one of Savannah’s gems — a fabulous guitarist, singer and songwriter.
A final show in the series is scheduled for Aug. 31, but the band has yet to be named.
I hear regular complaints from readers about late start times, so I hope some of those folks get out and support early gigs like these. If venues and promoters see good responses, we will see more supply to meet the demand.
And that would be good news for everyone.
Bill Dawers writes City Talk in Savannah Morning News and blogs at Savannah Unplugged (www.billdawers.com) and hissing lawns (www.hissinglawns.com). Email email@example.com.