The Savannah Stopover Festival gets its name because it’s a convenient stop for bands on their way to Austin’s notorious SXSW Festival. But, don’t let the name fool you—the Savannah Stopover Festival is a destination in its own right. For Charlestonians who want to be on the cutting edge of the music scene without making the hike to Austin, the Savannah Stopover Fest is a major win.
The festival is will be celebrating its sixth year from Thursday, March 10th to Saturday, March 12th. Over the course of three days, 105 bands will showcase their music throughout historic Savannah. Savannah is a city that rivals Charleston’s architectural and historical pedigree, but is draped in a southern gothic veil, adding an air of mystery that is hard to find in the charming, sunny streets of Charleston. As an aside—it should be mentioned that open containers are legal in the streets of historic Savannah – so as you hop from venue to venue drinking in the ambience of the city, you can also drink on your beverage of choice.
Truth be told, a “must see” list for Savannah Stopover could go on and on with the lineup they’ve brought together this year. Acts like Mothers, T. Hardy Morris, Tedo Stone, Ra Ra Riot, and Scotty ATL – to name but a few – are well worth your time.
Here's the Charleston Grit curated list of five must-see bands this year at Savannah Stopover Festival.
Charleston's High Divers play Saturday March 12th at 1:00pm
The High Divers
The High Divers are the first Charleston band on the Savannah Stopover’s Saturday lineup. New to the city, The High Divers have blended effortlessly in to the Charleston music scene. With the support of Charleston’s creative community and fellow musicians in bands like Brave Baby and Susto, the band has forged a remarkable debut LP, Riverlust. The album moves effortlessly through rock and roll, bossa nova, folk, without ever losing sight of its southern roots. Charlestonians aren’t the only ones taking note, the album has received critical acclaim all over the southeast. See what all the fuss is about and check out the High Divers at Savannah Stopover. They’ll be kicking off the Saturday festivities at 1:00pm in the yard of The Grey, an old bus terminal turned eatery.
Susto plays Saturday March 12th at 9:00pm
Susto is another Charleston born band, known for its genre bending brand of Americana and earnest lyrics. The band has been hard at work – they are currently touring, recording an upcoming EP and LP, and filming a documentary—but none of that has slowed them down. The band continues to deliver an incredible live experience and has won over many hearts on the road. If you missed Susto’s latest hometown show at the Music Farm, you’re in luck—they’ll be playing Saturday at Savannah Stopover before they head to SXSW. Susto is playing one of the festival’s coolest venues, The North Garden at the Ships of the Sea Museum, at 9:00pm.
The Futurebirds play Saturday March 12th at 10:00pm
The Futurebirds have exploded on to the music scene in the past six years. Despite being from Athens, GA, having beards and long hair, The Futurebirds don’t fit into the southern jam band pigeon hole that those qualities may suggest. Instead you’ll find glossy psychedelic overtones, vocal harmonies, and twangy rock riffs that come together to create a plush sonic wonderland. The band’s latest album Hotel Parties has their sound in its most mature form and is an absolute pleasure from start to finish. The Futurebirds play in the North Garden right after Susto, at 10:00pm, so you’re evening plans on Saturday are simple: stay put and enjoy hours of great music.
Hiss Golden Messenger plays Friday March 11th at 6:00pm
Hiss Golden Messenger
Hiss Golden Messenger is the hauntingly bluesy manifestation of singer-songwriter Michael Taylor. Hiss Golden Messenger’s music hangs like smoke in the air; it is music perfectly suited for the Spanish moss draped oaks that hang over Savannah—slow, persistent, and soulful. Michael Taylor is carrying the torch of a long line of musicians who breathe new life into the folk and blues traditions that still reside in the Southeastern United States, and he does it well. Hiss Golden Messenger takes bleak soundscapes and subject matter and adds levity and beauty with skillful guitar playing and soothing vocals. Let Hiss Golden Messenger wash over you at The Jinx, Friday at 6:00pm.
Blitzen Trapper plays Friday March 11th at 10:00pm
Blitzen Trapper is an Oregon based band that knows how to bring the house down. Their albums dabble in folk, Americana, and take both down experimental roads; but their live performance leaves no doubt that at their core, Blitzen Trapper is a rock band. The energy at a Blitzen Trapper show is akin to riding through the mountains with the windows down, surrounded by friends, blasting classic rock. It is celebratory, refreshing, and at once imminently visceral and nostalgic. Encores are known for blistering live renditions of Zeppelin classics like “Ramble On,” or quiet covers of Neil Young – baring the band’s roots for all to see. No matter what Blitzen Trapper brings to the stage, the band’s diverse catalog and commanding stage presence is not to be missed. They play 10:00pm on Friday at The North Garden of the Ships of the Sea Museum.
This year’s Stopover Festival will be one for the books. If you can make it to all three days, your biggest challenge will be setting up the perfect schedule (SCHED’s got you covered at savannahstopover.com). If not, make a day trip to the Hostess City of the South on Saturday and show two of Charleston’s best bands the hometown support they deserve.