Those looking for an affordable, family-friendly event to kick off Labor Day weekend may want to check out the Savannah Folk Music Society’s First Friday event on Sept. 3, Featuring Americana blues artist Henry D. Jones and Savannah’s own harmonica man, Bobby Hanson. This event will be held at the First Presbyterian Church’s Stewart Hall, 520 Washington Ave.
For a $5 donation, attendees will experience the intimate storytelling of the artists from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m in an alcohol and tobacco-free environment, offering a clean, wholesome setting for a truly interactive event.
The Savannah Folk Music Society President Rick Edgecombe, said “ It’s definitely a unique niche in this area which does lend toward a family atmosphere. The setting is in a fellowship hall at a church with a nice stage and the people in the audience is an intimate setting for the musicians. They always talk about what a wonderful venue it is and break from their normal touring routine because there is no bar setting.”
Henry D. Jones found his love of music after a house party when the DJ left behind crates of records.
He spent countless hours listening to everything from Johnny Cash to Al Green. This proved to be life-changing for Jones, planting the seeds for his deep love of all types of music and artists, and inspiring him to sell his car to purchase his first guitar from a pawn shop. Since then, he has crafted a truly original sound with elements of hill country blues, rock and folk.
“People understand blues music, but the older cats play everything. They recorded blues, but they were playing gospel, country tunes and they had full repertoires of music and I want to throw it back to a day when you played a more traditional style of music. You didn’t just play one type, but a lot of variations, not just playing bar blues all night,” Jones said.
Joining Jones for the second set is born and raised Savannah harmonica player Bobby Hanson who began his music career at 19 and has been playing with bands since the 1970’s. He has performed at over a dozen First Friday events and said” “It’s great. It’s a concert for people who are used to playing in clubs and this is not that, it’s a good crowd who sits and listens and responds. It will be different for me being in a supporting role and I’m looking forward to it. It should be a great night.”
Connecting via video chat and through phone conversations over the last several months, Jones and Hanson are learning each other’s styles. “What I am going to do with Bobby is add space to play in certain spots because this is really about live music and interaction. The blues is not some tired dead instrument, there is a lot you can do with it. It’s been beaten to death, but it can be interesting, it can be dynamic, it can be thought-provoking, it can be scary. A lot more than what it has been turned into,” said Jones.
Bringing these two great musicians together is Pat Mooney, host and schedule coordinator for the First Friday events.
He said, “One of the things I wanted to do was broaden the types of artists we brought in. If folks play it, it’s folk music. Blues is included in the genre of folk music because it is and it offers an opportunity for folks to listen to music they wouldn’t normally listen to because we don’t have a folk music station here. It offers the chance for folks to come experience good entertainment.”
Mooney continued, “Henry Jones used to live here and used to have a show on a local radio station where he used to be a host. The first few chords out of Henry’s guitar, I said I have to book this guy because he is just so excellent and does a lot of original stuff. Hanson, the harp player, will accompany Henry on the second set. It’s going to be a great show.”
Now residing in Tupelo, MS, Jones is excited to return to Savannah as the main act for the return of the First Friday event since the pandemic. Jones lived in Savannah for five years and appreciates its culture and history. He said “I love Savannah. It’s beautiful. I can kick myself in my own rear end for leaving.”
Homemade refreshments and non-alcoholic beverages will be available for sale at intermission and food is permitted in the performance space.
The Savannah Folk Music Society is a non-profit and tax exempt 501-c-3 cultural arts organization founded in 1986 and dedicated to providing a forum for folk music and dance in the greater Savannah area.
For information about the Savannah Folk Music Society and First Friday events, visit savannahfolk.org