You say you want a revolution? Well, how about this: Last year's inaugural Savannah Stopover Festival changed the city's music scene in four short days. It was that simple.
We in the audience had a great time. The diversity was stunning. The clubs did breakneck business.
And the bands? They went on to play SXSW, and told all their friends, fans and business people how fantastic it was to gig in Savannah, how hungry and receptive we were. A lot of CDs were sold, a lot of beers were hoisted.
The word spread. And before Stopover director Kayne Lanahan could pick up a phone and start inquiring about bookings for the 2012 Stopover, bands from all over were calling to ask her if they could please, please play here next time.
The revolution will not be televised, but the 2012 Stopover, wherever you are, will be unavoidable. It happens March 7-10, with more than 70 bands - the majority of them "stopping over" on their way to SXSW in Austin - in a dozen downtown venues.
Tickets, passes, T-shirts and various ephemera are available at savannahstopover.com.
Connect is proud to be a sponsor of the 2012 Stopover; as the big week approaches, we'll regale you with videos, streaming audio, interviews, photos et cetera.
Let's start with a special spotlight on six of the performers we're looking forward to the most (more next week ... and the next!)
At 9:30 p.m. Friday, March 9/Blowin' Smoke
One of the most compelling acoustic duos we've heard in a long time. David Lamb plays guitar, banjo and percussion (he thumps a bass drum via foot pedal while he's playing the strings), and sings in a convincing, sometimes dire baritone that brings Iron and Wine's Sam Beam to mind; he's joined by Morganeve Swain on fiddle, cello, upright bass and starkly realized harmony vocals. The Rhode Island duo's stunning debut, Salt For Salt, has ripe Americana echoes of the Civil Wars, Gillian Welch & David Rawlings, but the songs are visceral and cunning, and in performance they've been known to interpret fun stuff like "Jackson" and "Sixteen Tons." See brownbird.net
At 9 p.m. Wednesday, March 7/Telfair Square
Brad Oberhofer is just 21 years old, so his musical history tour began in the 1990s: He started out as a 13-year-old rapper. His life changed when he taught himself to play guitar and discovered the joy of writing, creating and mixing music on a lo-fi home deck. Now he's out in front of a crafty band that bears his name, re-creating and adding to the weird, pseudo-psychedelic pop punk of his home recordings. The band's first Glassnote album is due in March; we'll have an interview with Master Bradley in next week's issue. See myspace.com/oberhofermusic
GIRL IN A COMA
At midnight Friday, March 9/Wormhole
Feral and brilliant in a sort of brooding hard pop way, Girl in a Coma (named after the Smiths song) came out of San Antonio, Texas. The bassist (Jenn Alva) and drummer (Phanie Diaz) were middle school friends; the band came together when Nina Diaz (Phanie's littler sister) joined on guitar and vocals (she's also a songwriter of considerable strengths). Joan Jett signed Girl in a Coma to her Blackheart Records label, Robert Rodriguez used one of their songs ("Yo Oigo") in Machete; and Smiths legend Morrissey - bringing this Cinderella story full circle - brought the band on tour as his opening act. See girlinacoma.com
At 11 p.m. Saturday, March 10/The Jinx
Uncompromising power-pop from Down South - check out the EP Nasty, Brutish and Short, which "packs punky, colorful vintage sounds into a short, two to three minute package," according to Antiquiet. According to the bandleader himself: "My name is Daniel Pujol. I live in Nashville, TN. I grew up in Tullahoma, TN. I make rock ‘n' roll recordings and then play them with Dougies. I am currently pursuing a Masters in Global Affairs through the University of Denver. I have a rabbit named Spooky." See pujoldotcom.com
At 11 p.m. Friday, March 9/Jepson Center
Canadian pop chanteuse Claire Boucher creates a swirling, pulse-quickening blend of psychedelic pop and hypnotic, fun dance music with a strictly homegrown aesthetic. She has a better falsetto than Barry Gibb - Bullett magazine calls her music "the marriage between the voice of a human and the heartbeat of a machine." Grimes has becomes the new darling of Pitchfork, which says, like a proud parent: "She's blossoming and developing almost more quickly than we can keep track of... (She) could very well be poised for a meteoric rise with the release of her next full length." That would be Visions, which dropped at the end of January.
At 8 p.m. Friday, March 9/Congress St. Social Club
This Brooklyn Americana band has an unforgettable song, "Festival," that reminds us of the elegant lope of Neil Young's more countryish material with Crazy Horse; that's saying a lot from our perspective. Of course, the frequent comparisons to Wilco make sense, since Jeff Tweedy, in his day, drank deep from the heavily spiked fountain of Neil & the Horse. But there's something especially refreshing about this amiably ragged Americana band - maybe it's Kansas farmboy Jason Rueger's youthful enthusiasm. Maybe it's the way he tears into that big gold Les Paul. Maybe it's Twister, the band's utterly rocking and dynamic debut album. See countrymicemusic.com