Savannah is home to a wealth of artists and musicians, and one of our best showcases for diversity of talent is the Folk Music Festival! From Traditional music to Old Time, Blues, International, Folk Revival and Contemporary music, this Festival is going on its 24th year and is the best it’s been to date. This year, the festival runs from the 11th to the 13th of October, in various places around Savannah.
The first event on October 11th is the Folk Fest at Ellis Square featuring Chris Desa, Mike Maddos, Jamison Murphy, Cynergy, Jim McGaw, and The Ogeechee River Rounders. Shortly after the concert there will be a Silent Guitar auction. Each guitar was donated by the Gretsch Foundation and have been painted, carved, and sculpted by local artists. These guitars are playable works of art that were also part of an exhibition running since September at the Ellis Square Visitor center, closing only once the guitars have all found a new home.
On October 12th, the Youth Songwriting competition will be held at the Presbyterian church. This will be the showing of the finalists from a talented group of youth in the greater Savannah area under the age of 20, who previously submitted their own original folk songs. These finalists will perform their pieces for an audience and panel of judges, and the winner will then perform at the concert at Grayson Stadium on the last day of the festival.
On this day there will also be a Folk Songwriting workshop with John Flynn, an artist lined up to play on the last day of the festival who’s famous for his heartbreaking, humanitarian lyrics. The day will round out with a Saturday Old Time Country dance at the Notre Dame Academy Gym.
The last day of the festival finishes at the Grayson Stadium, and houses some of the biggest names in Folk music. Some of the highlights include Peter Yarrow of the legendary trio “Peter Paul and Mary”, known for his comforting and relaxing concert atmospheres, and appropriately so with his claim to fame being the phrase “keep on, keepin’ on”; The Waymores, a trio with beautiful harmonies whose songs have been covered by big names such as Johnny Cash and Ray Charles; John Flynn, who is an activist as much as he is an artist, evoking the heart and spirit deeply with his lyrics; and last but definitely not least, Major Handy, who specializes in Zydeco and Blues. He now tours with his wife Frances, but at the age of 15, Ottis Redding unsuccessfully tried to recruit him into his band.
So come on down and feel the spirit of folk. This genre of music is a tradition that’s been a long time coming, and is a perfect blend of old and new, just like Savannah. The diversity that’s found in our city is truly what makes it so great, so listen to history in the form of sound waves, lay beneath the towering oak trees dripping with Spanish moss, and keep a cold drink in your hand.