You can read elsewhere in this week’s Do about some of the exciting acts headed our way in spring 2020 for the Savannah Stopover Music Festival and in next week on the Savannah Music Festival.
The festivals have far more differences than similarities, but both have strong track records and share some common traits. Both Stopover and the SMF have tremendously enriched the cultural life of the city and, in their embrace of so many fine venues, have uniquely Savannah flavors. Both events feel authentic.
Of course, organizers have had to deal with various limitations. At the end of the day, Savannah is a relatively small market, and audiences here have sometimes been averse to programming that doesn’t fit neatly with local tastes and trends.
It is difficult to step get out of our own siloes, especially when we have to pay to do it. In future columns, I’ll take a closer look at some of the edgier, riskier choices in those 2020 festival lineups.
The SMF, Stopover and promoters generally also have to deal with Savannah’s longstanding status as a “walk-up town” where many folks make late decisions and assume that tickets will be available at the door. The decide-at-the-last-minute strategy has typically worked fine for concertgoers since so many shows have not sold out in advance, which has too often left promoters wringing their hands about poor sales even when the numbers eventually work out fine.Get Savannah arts & culture news delivered to your inbox: Sign up for our morning, afternoon and our Dine newsletters
Waiting till the last minute also heightens the negative effects of adverse weather or other disruptions. If it’s a rainy night, I’m more likely to go to a show for which I already have a ticket than to one where I am planning on buying tickets at the door.
Thankfully, the dynamics have been changing in recent years, in part because of the sheer quality and the smart marketing of the SMF, Stopover and a growing number of one-time gigs. Victory North, for example, sold 450 advance tickets for Big Freedia and Low Cut Connie recently, and it seems certain that the venue will begin experiencing sellouts.
With its limited capacity, The Jinx has two upcoming shows that will almost certainly sell out: Murder By Death on Dec. 27 and Southern Culture on the Skids on Jan. 22.
But the local culture changes slowly, and we are inevitably losing some really fine acts because of our tradition of making last-minute purchases.
In most cases, we don’t even know what we missed.