For the 11th year, Savannah is rallying around one of its own. Jason Statts, a local musician and graphic designer, was the victim of a horrific shooting in 2008 that left him paralyzed. Statts’ friend and bandmate, David Williams, was also injured in the armed robbery attempt, and the local music community was quick to jump up and help offset the immense medical costs.
From there, StattsFest was born. 11 years later, the all-day event—which this year will take place at The Rail Pub from 4-7 P.M. before moving to The Jinx at 8 P.M. for Statts After Dark—features an impressive lineup of local bands who know and love Statts.
The Rail Pub gig has a packed bill that includes Bottles & Cans and Damon & the Shitkickers. Over at The Jinx, Xuluprophet, Bero Bero, Perpetual Care, and Dope Knife will play for Statts After Dark.
A number of the bands performing have been longtime supporters of Friends of Statts, the organization that puts the festival on. Friends of Statts has branched out beyond StattsFest in recent years, staging special one-off events and even a signature brew from Southbound Brewing—all in the name of continuing to help with Statts’ ongoing medical and living expenses.
Ahead of this year’s StattsFest on Nov. 2, we spoke to Damon & the Shitkickers’ Damon Mailand about his support of such an important cause for so many years.
How did y’all get involved in StattsFest?
Some guys in my band, when the incident happened, knew Jason better. So I kind of met him through them. But one thing I’ve found in Savannah is that it’s a close knit group of people with a real sense of community. StattsFest is a prime example of that. A whole lot of people are coming together to help out a friend in need; everyone loves Jason and wants to help him out however they can.
For us, that sense of community is also one of the things I love about playing music here—being able to share something I’m passionate about with an enthusiastic group of friends. If we can use that to do some real good and provide much-needed assistance for Jason, then we’re absolutely going to do it. It’s a no brainer, and really, an honor.
Absolutely. And you’ve been participating for quite a while!
I believe we’ve done every year, actually! This will be our 11th time, as a matter of fact. And right there alongside some great acts. On the bill with us are Joe Nelson and Bottles & Cans, and those guys have been right there supporting Jason the whole time. It’s going to be a great time. There’s some excellent entertainment, and it’s not just musicians who come out to support it. Businesses and artists donate financially or pieces of their art for the silent auction. It’s an amazing event.
My understanding of Jason is that he’s someone who has truly embedded himself in the community, and he’s been an active supporter and participant in the arts in Savannah for a long time. That being said—as someone who knows him—what in his character do you feel is so special that prompts people to come together and support him year after year?
I don’t think it’s an accident that StattsFest has become such a big deal and has gone on for 11 years now. I think that Jason spent his lifetime building up that amount of goodwill, so when something happened to him, he knew so many people and had goodwill built up with so many people that it just fell in line.
So, I don’t think it’s just a cause for a lot of people. He’s a friend, and everybody really wants to help out as much as possible.