I waffled right up till the last minute about my listening schedule on day 3 of the first Savannah Stopover. So I just let myself drift where circumstance took me.
I actually had some work to do early on Friday, but then headed off in late morning to Meddin Studios for a great Stopover Session with Sanders Bohlke, whom I wrote about here. Afterward, I took Sanders, his wife Elizabeth, and my friend Jason Nielubowicz to lunch at B. Matthewâ€™s Eatery at Habersham and Bay. What a lovely time. I canâ€™t wait to see and hear the recordings of the 5 tracks that Sanders did that morning.
I ended up at Hang Fire on Whitaker Street for one of the afternoon showcases of local bands. Niche member Justin Dick joked about how only unemployed people would be out to listen to bands mid-afternoon on a Friday, and Iâ€™m sure there were some folks without jobs there. But there were plenty of service industry folks, members of other bands, several sets of parents it appeared â€“ a great mix. Often at shows in Savannah, Iâ€™m the oldest person in the room, but not this week.
I enjoyed Ancient Warfare, which I had never heard before. I love Nicheâ€™s melding of rock, metal, and country.
At 8 p.m. I stopped at The Sentient Bean for The Winter Sounds, a quintet that explores diverse genres with a wonderful guilelessness and lack of pretension. Their entirely acoustic set included some great covers, including Modern Englishâ€™s â€œI Melt with Youâ€ and A-Haâ€™s â€œTake On Me.â€
The Drenched Earth Tour was next up at The Bean. I didnâ€™t stay for the entire set (a lengthy show compared to most at the Stopover), but walked away incredibly impressed. The act is a melding of two different ones: singer-songwriter Chris Castle and The Womack Family Band. Castle led things off solo, but was joined on each song after by another Womack member, until the stage was full. Then Castle took a break and left the stage to them.
It was another strong, diverse set. Castleâ€™s sincerity and beautiful voice bled through his music, and The Womack Family Band stretches from bluegrass to indie rock.
I got to The Jinx about 10 p.m. for The Shaniqua Brown, a fun rock act out of Charleston fronted by the appealing, sexy, and strong-lunged Rachel Kate Gillon. Sheâ€™s backed by some great musicians, although I would have liked a little more variation in their set â€“ a bit more of the torch song-y sound of tracks like â€œOutlaw.â€
There was an irritating issue with that show, however: it didnâ€™t start until 10:30. Thatâ€™s normal procedure in Savannah, especially at The Jinx. But this wasnâ€™t an isolated night of music â€“ it was part of a festival and many attendees had plotted out their entire nights based on the schedule for 8, 9, 10, 11, and midnight. When I got to The Jinx at 10, it was well over half full, and was probably 75% full by the time the show started â€“ plenty enough people to get started on time. In fact, all four nights The Jinx shows started right about 10:30. That would have been fine, IF that had been the schedule. Maybe for next year, the Stopover should just stagger some shows like that officially. Then I could have heard another band at another venue for 30 minutes. (The late start at The Jinx almost turned into a huge problem on Saturday night, when headliner Murder By Death barely had time to finish their set because of that whole â€œspring forwardâ€ thing at 2 a.m.)
I wanted to catch Reptar at The Jinx too, but the late start plus the long set-up for the theatrical Athens-based quartet meant they didnâ€™t even start until midnight (they were scheduled for 11). I was itching to see Prince Rama over at Hang Fire, and there werenâ€™t enough vocals in Reptarâ€™s mix (they sounded better in the back than right up front), so I only hung around for a couple of songs. But I liked Reptarâ€™s punky pop sound, the stage antics of the four skinny boys, and the party vibe they were shooting for. Iâ€™d like to hear them again.
Prince Rama and Hang Fire were simply trippy. With Bollywood films projected on the side wall, bar owner Wes Daniel painted blue, and the Brooklyn based duo performing a king of Indian electronica surrounded by flowing fabric, it was a great scene.
But a friend dragged me to check out the tail end of Milagres at Live Wire on River Street (Iâ€™ll remain silent on how we got down there), which was a great show. Theyâ€™re a great rock act that combines both strength and subtlety in the vocals and instrumentation. The crowd was simply ecstatic, so Iâ€™m sure I would have enjoyed it even more if I had been there for the entire set.