For the second year in a row, photographer Anna Ward and I made the two-hour trek south down highway 17 for the Savannah Stopover, a music festival celebrating an eclectic group of bands on their way to Austin's lauded SXSW festival.
Savannah, famous for its tree-studded parks and historic architecture as well as for its open-container alcohol policies and vibrant bar scene, is an excellent city to host this laid-back weekend.
Former warehouses, now converted to stores, along Savannah's river walk.
The Ships of the Sea Museum hosted the opening celebration and acts—Garden Giant, The Dig, and Kishi Bashi—on Thursday night. Kishi Bashi was joined by special guest Tall Tall Trees for some great moments in harmonic improvisation.
Kishi Bashi is always a great live act, and although he was probably the biggest name on the festival's lineup, he was just as approachable and humble as ever, interacting with the crowd and letting us know he was extremely excited to be there.
Downtown Savannah provides a great locale for strolls from venue to venue.
Next, we headed over to a new venue for Stopover, The El-Rocko Lounge on Whitaker St. Another local band, Taze Daze—a project from Triathalon, broke in the art-deco-themed space with some contemporary shoegaze that I loved. Up next was pronoun, a new act out of Brooklyn who captured the true spirit of Stopover with her excitement and obvious talent.
Friday was another chance to see completely different music, starting with Tall Tall Trees' psychedelic banjo performance at The Jinx. Tall Tall Trees told the story of how his recent album Freedays, was written and recorded at the homeopathic spiritual camp run by the mother of a childhood friend in West Georgia.
Next up was local rapper Miggs Son Daddy at Club One. His hardcore rap reminded me of late-nineties acts and more contemporary artists like Aesop Rock or Immortal Technique. Club One began to fill with folks who had come from Macon Georgia, the hometown of the next hip-hop performer, Flocco Torres. Torres and his band electrified the venue and were so much fun to watch that they got called for an encore.
Flocco Torres hypes up the crowd at Club One
Saturday is the most action-packed day for Stopover. Starting with the fantastic Stopover in the Yard event co-hosted by The Grey, the day was action-packed. Stopover in the Yard is a lunchtime fundraiser featuring one rising star and food from James Beard Award-winning chef Mashama Bailey at The Grey. This year's musical guest was Kelsey Waldon, who was amazing, a great presence. I wound up taking home her new album I've Got A Way. The funds raised went to the local Rape Crisis Center of the Coastal Empire.
Kelsey Waldon at Stopover in the Yard
Next up we headed back over to The Jinx for Richmond native Saw Black, whose dark blend of indie and folk is haunting and emotional, yet accessible. Saw Black was one of my favorite discoveries of the weekend. His song "Rosie's Coming Home," is a great story about a precarious love and preparing for the return of a lover.
Saw Black and his band
After Saw Black and a little break back at our amazing Airbnb by Forsyth park, we walked to Trinity Methodist Church to see Christopher Paul Stelling and Julien Baker. C P was an added bonus, as we had not planned on seeing him, but he blew us away with his modern interpretation roots music and witty onstage banter.
Christopher Paul Stelling joined onstage by Tall Tall Trees
Julien Baker, whose emotional, evocative songwriting and plaintive voice are powerful as much as they are personal, was a major draw for me this year. I will admit, I am a huge fan. She did not disappoint whatsoever.
After a near-religious experience with Julien Baker, we walked over to the El-Rocko Lounge for IAN SWEET.
This great blissed-out punk band was a fun late-night show. I'm not sure of the lead singer and guitarist's name, but she was great, with a squeaky voice and killer aesthetic.
That was the end of our Stopover experience. We loved it again. Special thanks to Anna Ward of Anna Ward Photography for the photos.