That is the fun of a much smaller festival. I didn’t generally run into people more than once but it was easy to make connections and the venues are all close together and it is easy to hop between venues generally without having to wait in long lines.
Later that night I got braver and found W. Congress Street and was lured into The Jinx by the music, discovering Sun Parade. I wanted to get my full breakfast at the inn so didn’t stay out too late the first night. The charming gentleman at check-in had given me a good map with various highlights, including the route back to the inn from W. Congress along Bull Street.
My ability to navigate both the streets of Savannah, the locations of the various clubs and the band schedules improved considerably on day two and I think I hit every venue before the festival was over. One of my favourites was the Congress Street Social Club. Not only did it have an outdoor patio, it also had Shiner Bock, my favourite beer from my visit to Austin.
It also ended up providing the most fun story of the trip. By Friday night, I was pretty comfortable with Savannah and so checked out the after-hours lounge that was just for VIPs, volunteers and bands. As a bonus, drinks were free 🙂 On Friday night, it wasn’t too busy but there was one lively young woman who decided we should all be dancing. I’m not sure why but being lured onto dance floors to boogie with strangers is a very common activity in my travel life 😉 At least there were no fancy twirls and dips this time.
I didn’t think much about it until the next day at the Congress Street Social Club when I was waiting in line to get a Shiner Bock and the guy behind me commented on my dance moves. What was extra fun was that it turned out he was the lead singer for the band I had come to see, Birthday Club (from Houston). While I was waiting for them to get set up, I also met Zack and John David who were incredibly entertaining (almost as good as the band). That added some pressure for the band to be good so that they would be impressed by my musical taste. Luckily, the band was great and I bought them a CD and a poster since they had bought me a beer and introduced them to the band as new fans. Everyone was thrilled. I had even more fun at the after-hours club on Saturday night since I knew some band members by then and it was a lot livelier.
Unfortunately Zack and John David didn’t find me later in the night as we agreed then but it was
easy to meet people and there was a really relaxed atmosphere everywhere I went. The next band was also very good (Plastic Picnic from Brooklyn). Unfortunately they didn’t have any CDs. I tried my best to buy CDs and support the artists since I know it’s a tough industry these days for emerging artists.
The most impressive venue is the stage at the Ships of the Sea Museum where the opening and closing acts are showcased. The closing act was Of Montreal, a friend of the event and definitely a band to check out live. They are a bit more established so likely a bit easier to find beyond the Savannah Stopover.
Another impressive venue was the Trinity United Methodist Church. That’s where I discovered Colter Wall. I went because he is from Swift Current
in Canada not that far from where I spent my childhood. To see someone from my own environs in faraway Savannah, Georgia was a no brainer. He is a country guy so I didn’t know of him before Savannah. While his performance was a little stiff, his voice is a revelation.
It’s the kind of event where you can talk to the performer so I told him I had been to Swift Current, that he sounded like a young Johnny Cash and asked which album I should buy. He acted like a nice Canadian kid and seemed pleased with all of it – and I loved the album so have been talking him up ever since.
I do have a soft spot for country so checking out bands from Nashville not out of character but also loved the Vegabonds who are Nashville but more southern rock than country. I have listened to their album, What We’re Made of, a LOT. Highly recommended. And again, band was very friendly.
You get the idea… I would definitely recommend to come and check out Savannah Stopover for yourself and find your own musical discoveries. You can also just come for the local talent, especially if you live nearby. My final musical encounter of sorts was meeting Danielle Hicks at the after party. Her show had been on the same time as another on my list so I just stayed at the same venue and missed her but she kindly gave me a CD at the party and converted me into a fan.
It was so much fun and I am sure I will return but it was agreed I had probably travelled further than anyone else at the festival so likely not every year – but for those living on the east coast, you don’t have that excuse 😉
p.s. also check out these bands. They are all emerging and could use your support.
p.p.s. since I started writing this, had a fun random encounter. Since the government mostly controls liquor distribution in Canada and sin taxes are insane, it is really rare to find a decent bottle of wine for under $10. I’d taken a chance on a Chilean rose at my local store and apparently I was not the only person who thought it was a great deal so had to take the train to a bigger store that had some in stock to buy more. It’s a specialty store that has products I can’t get at most stores so bought enough to make the visit worthwhile and looked like a pack mule when I got on the train. A young woman named Jessica kindly offered me her seat but I told her I was fine. While Canadians aren’t unfriendly, there is definitely some British reserve to the culture so assumed that would be the end of the conversation but I could see she wanted to chat so I found out she didn’t normally drink alcohol but did like rose so I showed her the label and provided some background on the Australian wine industry (where it all began for me). More was discussed and I felt a little sad that I didn’t have very many stops on the route. It made me realize how delightful human interaction can be and that we could all use more of it. I do it a lot when I travel. One of the reasons travel makes me so happy. Some cultures are especially easy to interact with when you are a stranger so a little shout-out to Americans. The rest of the world is wondering a little about some of their choices these days but they are one of the friendliest cultures on the planet and that made my trip to Savannah so much more enjoyable.