Savannah Music Festival to highlight bluegrass this year

The Savannah Music Festival, the Georgia city’s annual three-week celebration of music each spring, has once again made bluegrass a prominent part of their offerings for 2024. In addition to the usual mix of classical and jazz concerts at a variety of venues around town, the organizers will welcome in a number of bluegrass artists as well as folk musicians in a number of genres.

The Festival runs from March 28-April 13 and at least one, and often several shows are held in different parts of Savannah each day. For example, the opening night features six events held almost simultaneously. Patrons have the option of purchasing tickets for individual concerts, or buying subscriber passes for three, five, or ten shows at substantial discounts.

For the bluegrass aficionado, Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder comes up first, appearing at the Lucas Theatre for the Arts on Thursday, April 4, at 8:00 p.m. Then on Friday, April 5, a special twin bill called Doc and Earl goes on at 8:00 p.m. at the Metal Building at Trustees’ Garden at 8:00 p.m. featuring both Doc at 100 and Tony Trischka’s EarlJam. Doc at 100 brings together three flatpickers, Wayne Henderson, Jack Lawrence, and Jack Hinshelwood, to demonstrate the genius of Doc Watson, and perform selections of his music, while the EarlJam finds Trischka doing similarly with the music of Earl Scruggs.

During that afternoon (4/5), the Festival will host a free panel discussion at the Savannah Cultural Arts Center at 3:00 p.m. with Doc at 100, plus music historian Ted Olson from ETSU, discussing Watson’s music and its impact on successive generations of guitarists. The following afternoon (4/6) Trischka will do a stripped-down version of his EarlJam show at the Metal Building at Trustees’ Garden at 12:30 p.m. with Michael Daves on guitar and Jared Engel on bass.

Sunday, April 7, brings another exciting twin bill with A.J. Lee & Blue Summit and The Po’ Ramblin’ Boys doing a pair of concerts at 3:00 and 7:00 p.m. at the North Garden Assembly Room at Ships of the Sea Maritime Museum.

Old time music fans can plan on seeing Kaia Kater and Viv & Riley on Tuesday, April 9, at 5:00 p.m., again at the Metal Building at Trustees’ Garden. Kater performs solo on banjo and sings her original compositions, and Viv & Riley are Vivian Leva and Riley Calcagno, two noted young old timers who mix traditional and contemporary styles. They’ll play two shows, at 5:00 and 8:00 p.m.

Friday, April 12, brings Mighty Poplar, a mixing of members from Punch Brothers, Watchhouse, and Leftover Salmon. You might expect their show to be filled with modern, progressive string music, but the Poplars tend to play it pretty straight, drawing from a wealth of traditional folk and old time music. They’ll be at the Lucas Theater at 8:30 p.m.

These are some excellent opportunities for bluegrass lovers in coastal Georgia to see some fine music this spring.

Details on all these and the many other concerts and talks associated with the 2024 Savannah Music Festival, including ticket information, can be found online.

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.