The fourth annual Savannah Stopover Music Festival takes place March 6-8, 2014, with two newly-added venues (Dollhouse Productions and the Moon River Beer Garden) joining the old standbys (the Jinx, Congress Street Social Club, Hang Fire et al) to provide stages for something like 70 bands and artists.
The three-day celebration of independent music began as a honeysuckle come-hither to bands on their way to the big SXSW conference in Austin in mid-March (the idea being, “Need gas money, appreciative fans and a place to crash? Why not stop over in Savannah?”)
In between sets at Thursday’s Futurebirds show at the Jinx, Stopover founder Kayne Lanahan announced a big cross-section of the bands she’s booked for 2014 (although, she was quick to point out, a couple of “major” names can’t be revealed until January, due to some contractual stuff that needs ironing out).
Also new is a Friday-Saturday only Weekend Pass, for out-of-towners or those who otherwise can’t make it for Thursday, too. All tickets are available at www.savannahstpover.com.
Here are the highlights announced Thursday night (the exact dates and venues for each band have yet to be determined). This is by no means a complete list (local bands still have to be named, too) and it’s subject to change.
Small Black: A Brooklyn quartet that makes statements with melancholy synth-pop. The band’s new album is Limits of Desire, which singer, songwriter and pianist Josh Hayden Kolenik says features a sharp new maturity for these chill-wavers. “As an artist you always want to fight against what you did last,” he says. “As you get a little older and more learned in your craft, you want to show everything and not hide behind multiple vocal takes or any sort of haze.”
Caitlin Rose: This country singer is just 26, and her first EP was called Dead Flowers, after the great old Rolling Stones song, so you know she’s cool. Indeed, her roots are in “fringe country,” the alt-territory inhabited by Nashville’s young, disenfranchised artists who grew up on rock ‘n’ roll and lyrics that take country into brazen new places. Spin rated her latest The Stand In 9 out of 10. Choice cover: The National’s deliciously immodest “Pink Rabbits.”
Those Darlins. Two women, two men make up a Nashville-based alt country band that mines spiky punk and dusty Americana. And their song “Optimist” (from Blur the Line, the group’s just-released third album) sounds like the Go Go’s duetting with the Ramones.
St. Paul and the Broken Bones. Vocalist Paul Janeway is the outstandingly frothy frontman for his outstanding Alabama soul outfit. Nashville Scene calls them “A Southern soul horn band with a keen, kinetic rhythmic attack,” and vows that Janeway and company will be “Alabama’s next big success story.”
Speedy Ortiz. “Inspired by the whip-smart lyrics and who-gives-a-fuck attitude of greats like Pavement and Liz Phair, this band is injecting some personality into indie rock.” Pitchfork said that in July, and once you hear Sadie DuPuis, who writes and sings for this brash, low-fi band, you’ll tend to agree. DuPuis, late of the Brooklyn grunge band Quilty, is at this moment finishing up her MFA in Poetry and University of Massachusetts Amherst. “Poetry’s got to stand on its own,” she said recently. “I do readings, but I don’t like to, and have terrible stage fright with it. Anytime I have to be in front of anybody without a guitar, it's horrible for me. Sometimes, it's easier to communicate certain emotions without words.”
Other notable bands making their first Savannah Stopover appearance in 2014 include:
Bear Hands, Miniature Tigers, Hurray for the Riff Raff, Weekend, Public Service Broadcasting, Matrimony (seen at Revival Fest earlier this year), The Belle Game, Ski Lodge, Thomas Wynn & the Believers (great Orlando rock ‘n’ roll band that’s played Savannah on several occasions), Bleeding Rainbow, Big Ups, Pile, The Whiskey Gentry, Clear Plastic Masks, Raccoon Fighter, Weekender, Tweens, The Teen Age, Easter Island, PitchBlak Brass Band, Los Colognes, Starlight Girls, Good Graeff, Ex Hex, Arp, the Silver Palms and Dead Confederates singer T. Hardy Morris.
Among returning Stopover bands are Milagres, this mountain, You Won’t and River Whyless.