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March Music Festival Madness in Savannah

  • Savannah Stopover at The Jinx

    Geoff L. Johnson

It almost seems unfair. Savannah is such a magical place to visit under everyday circumstances, so adding a pair of top shelf music festivals (in the same month!) feels like running up the score. Get ahead of the game, and make your reservations now for what promises to be a very active March.

Tickets are already on sale for 2017’s Savannah Music Festival. The lineup for the 28th edition of this musically omnivorous 17-day smorgasbord (March 23-April 8) looks even more diverse than usual. The program’s jazz and classical roots are well represented, including celebrations of the 100th birthdays of legends Thelonious Monk and Dizzy Gillespie, a Sonatathon featuring all 32 of Beethoven’s piano sonatas performed in a single day, and Avery Fisher Prize-winning MacArthur Fellow bassist Edgar Meyer.

Che Malambo. Courtesy of Savannah Music Festival/Diane Smithers
Che Malambo. Courtesy of Savannah Music Festival/Diane Smithers

Its rootsier side includes British folk rock treasure Richard Thompson, Southern troubadour Jason Isbell and a closing night performance by Bruce Hornsby. Organizers have expanded horizons further this year with a pair of dance productions, including one by Argentine ensemble Che Malambo. In all, expect 100+ performances peppered throughout the city’s historic district.

Two weeks earlier, the scrappy Savannah Stopover festival returns for its seventh year to deliver 80 bands within a three-day whirlwind (March 9-11). "Stopover" refers to the event’s ingenious model of offering a driving respite (and a paycheck) to the bevy of bands making the trek to Austin’s South by Southwest festival, meaning you get the chance to see many of those same artists in similarly intimate settings but with a bit more elbow room. Bookending the festivities are Athens’ own Kishi Bashi (Thursday) and classic soul-funk barnburners Lee Fields and the Expressions (Sunday). Single-day and full event passes are selling quickly, so plan ahead.

Savannah puts on the second-largest St. Patrick's Day parade in the United States
Savannah puts on the second-largest St. Patrick's Day parade in the United States

And in case you haven’t noticed, the weekend between these two festivals encompasses St. Patrick’s Day, for which a few revelers have been known to descend on Savannah for a little party - the second largest in the U.S., as it happens. There’s no rest for the music-hungry.

Glen Sarvady

Glen Sarvady is Georgia’s official Music Explorer. He has lived in Atlanta for more than 20 years, and has written about music both locally and nationally for at least as long. More recently, he has written regularly for the music/arts publication Stomp & Stammer as well as GeorgiaMusic.org.