For the past nine years, the A-Town Get Down Festival has been a highlight event in Savannah’s arts community.
The annual festival, named after Alex “A-Town” Townsend, a bright and creative musician and SCAD student who tragically passed away at the age of 21, has boasted terrific lineups of musicians and artists with proceeds benefiting the Alex Townsend Foundation which provides funding and programs to organizations like Loop It Up, and underserved students in the Savannah community.
This year, however, the festival has been postponed due to the near fatal shooting of founder and organizer Tom Townsend. Townsend was shot in the neck during an attempted carjacking in his home of St. Louis, Missouri, last September. Townsend underwent extensive, life-saving surgery, but suffered severe damage to his jaw. The horrific experience has not slowed down Townsend’s desire to recover and continue working for the community.
The Healing Sessions: Anita Jackson from Tom Townsend on Vimeo.
“The support from the Savannah community has been extraordinary and heartfelt,” said Townsend in a press release. “The love and support we have experienced over the last few months is a shining example of why Alex loved Savannah so much and why we will always try to give back to those who gave so much to us.”
During his months long recovery, Townsend, who is an accomplished pianist, has been focusing on playing music with friends, and his remarkable journey has been documented in a video series called “The Healing Sessions.”
To make up for the postponement of the regular A-Town Get Down Festival, a smaller fundraiser called A-Town Mini Fest is being put on at the American Legion Ballroom on Bull Street with support from community organizers, sponsors, and friends. The event continues the Alex Townsend Foundation’s mission of community outreach and art education and is a salute the tireless work of its founder. The line-up of A-Town Mini Fest includes music by A-Town regulars Missionary Blues, Walter Parks, and Tom Townsend. There will also be an All-Star Jam Session.
“A-Town Get Down has had such a positive impact on the creative community over the years,” said Mike English of Missionary Blues, and Senior Vice-President of Queensborough National Bank & Trust Co., a headlining sponsor of A-Town Festivals. “I have personally experienced some defining moments as a musician and a family man because of the opportunities the festival brings to Savannah. During a much-needed recovery period for the Townsend’s we, in collaboration with W Projects, will be hosting a fundraiser in A-Town’s name in order to show the Townsend’s and the foundation that Savannah appreciates all they have done for us.”