Savannah Stopover Music Festival
Not many music festivals take place in such a cool setting as the Savannah Stopover Music Festival. The event, which took place March 8-10 this year, happens in the unique setting of historic downtown Savannah, Georgia, where horse-drawn carriages are commonly seen giving visitors rides past possibly haunted buildings, along streets sometimes lit by old fashioned gas lamps and lined with fragrant magnolia trees. It may seem a lifetime removed from a place you'd expect to be hosting a three-day music festival attended by tens of thousands, but festival-goers have been showing their love for the Savannah Stopover Music Festival for eight years now.
The first day of this year's Savannah Stopover Music Festival coincided with International Women's Day and the festival saluted the event with a special opening night showcase that featured women musicians. The ladies all hailed from Georgia too, and the stage located outdoors in the garden pavilion at the Ships of the Sea Maritime Museum, one of Savannah's top tourist attractions, came to life with shows by Atlanta based acts Larkin Poe and Ruby Velle & the Soulphonics along with Savannah's own Payne Bridges. It was Velle and her large back-up band that stole the show as they previewed songs from their upcoming State of All Things album, including "Call out My Name," "Lost Lady USA" and the record's title cut. Over the course of the festival Cicada Rhythm, of Montreal, Lily Hiatt, Nikki Lane and others would turn in memorable sets on the Ships of the Sea stage.
Downtown Savannah is relatively compact and easy to navigate on foot, and festival-goers mostly walked from venue to venue. Buzz bands KOLARS and Escondido have been touring together and they both played on opening night, albeit at different venues.
At the Congress Street Social Club acts played on a stage that's on the bar's sizable patio; Brooklyn's Wilder Maker played there and showed their love for Fleetwood Mac and the venue was also a place to check out Savannah-based bands like Enen, a pop band named after front man Isaac Enen.
Rock bar The Jinx, a long, narrow venue with the stage at the club's far end, constantly hosted a lively crowd for shows ranging from Acid Dad to the Cave Singers and from Liz Cooper & the Stampede to the Jon Stickley Trio, a guitar-violin-drums outfit that had the place jumping with their frenetic jazz fusion instrumentals.
The El Rocko Lounge lived up to its name with an eclectic group of performers like Illegal Drugs, White Violet, The Nude Party and Yonatan Gat and really got rocking when the Athens, Georgia band David Barbe & Inward Dream Ebb took the stage; Barbe and two members of his band all play electric guitar and they like it rough and loud and the sound proved to be a fan pleaser too. The El Rocko has a window at the back of the stage and passers-by couldn't help but take a peek and rock a little while Barbe and company were on stage.
David Barbe & Inward Dream Ebb
The convenience of being able to get from one stage to another with relative ease, and generally always get in, adds to the fun at the Savannah Stopover Music Festival. That way it's not too hard to map out a plan; how about seeing the Vegabonds first, then we'll hop over to the Vundabar show, then finish the night with the Pylon Reenactment Society? Not a problem! And in the downtown area of Savannah fans are allowed to take their drink with them from one place to another, so long as it is in a plastic "go cup."
One of the favorite venues at Savannah Stopover is Trinity United church. The house of worship offers a visually stimulating setting and good acoustics too, and this year it was where fans could see Sam Lewis, Colter Wall, Wild Child, and coming all the way from Tel Aviv, Israel, Lola Marsh. Lola Marsh is a band, not an individual player, and is fronted by singer and guitarist/ukulele player Yael Shoshana Cohen. It was the first time in Savannah for Lola Marsh and the group's lively pop music earned the band an equally lively response from the audience.
Yael of Lola Marsh
As the crowds dispersed between shows each evening of the festival, some of Savannah's famed "ghost tours" were going on, but it's unlikely that any spooky spirits were caught at their favorite haunts those nights. Like everyone else, they were probably busy dancing.
Savannah Stopover Music Festival