Friday night’s “Southern Troubadours” show at Trustees Theater was a combination singer-songwriter’s master class and neighborhood hangout session. Three chairs, three musicians, three acoustic guitars – even with an almost packed house, it was like sitting in someone’s living room listening to Joe Ely, Ruthie Foster and Paul Thorn sing songs and tell jokes and stories. Ely hit one of the deepest emotional notes when he sang fellow Texan Billy Joe Shaver’s “Live Forever.” Foster had the crowd in her palm when she recounted a story about her grandma serving up beans for dinner and calling it chicken. And Thorn – Thorn may be the most politically incorrect cat in the category, but his voice is so slaked with backwoods charm and his songs are so hilariously on point, he makes you love him for it. Maybe it says something about the audience, but his songs about being the poster boy for non-consensual celibacy, slacking off on Fridays, and his mate being “temporarily forever mine” received some of the strongest acknowledgments.
I’m not sure anyone can rock a concert stage any better than Stanley Dural Jr., a/k/a Buckwheat Zydeco did last night at the Charles H. Morris Center. The Ils Sons Parti Band set the proper mood with a couple of blues-based instrumentals before introducing the King of Zydeco who strode to the center of the stage, strapped on his beautiful pearl-white-and-chrome accordion, and threw down the first of the evening’s swamp boogie Creole dance numbers. In the late 1950s, Dural was an accomplished roadhouse-style organist, years before he picked up the accordion, so it was no surprise when he switched from the squeezebox to an electric keyboard and raised the bandstand another few notches. Most of the decidedly older crowd was amped up and on its feet throughout the show when they weren’t dancing like crazy kids. I walked back to the hotel with a smile that wouldn’t go away.
Today’s a busy day. In the afternoon it’s off to the Lucas Theater for the Arts for chamber orchestra works by Mozart and Mendelssohn performed by the Savannah Philharmonic with guest soloists from the SMF chamber ensemble series (Daniel Hope & Co.). Then the Heritage Blues Orchestra shares an afternoon bill with award-winning blues guitarist Jarekus Singleton at the Ships of the Sea pavilion. Topping off the to-do list is The Earls of Leicester, Jerry Douglas’ tribute troupe dedicated to the music of Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs, taking the stage at the Trustees Theater. Yeehaw, y’all! – (Saturday, March 21 – Entry One – DD)
Each day of the 17-day Savannah Music Festival, music journalist Doug DeLoach shares reviews, recommendations and musings on his adventures in Savannah. Read all of his daily dispatches here.
Performances on tap for Saturday, March 21 are: McIntosh County Shouters at the Charles H. Morris Center at 12:30 p.m.; Orchestral Masterworks by Mozart & Mendelssohn Featuring the Savannah Philharmonic, Daniel Hope, Benny Ki, Philip Dukes and Sebastian Knauer at 3 p.m. at Lucas Theatre for the Arts; Come Rain or Come Shine Featuring Kurt Ollmann, J.J. Hobbs & Rebecca Flaherty at 5 and 7:30 p.m. at Charles H. Morris Center; Blues in the Garden: Heritage Blues Orchestra at Ships of the Sea North Garden at 5 and 8:15 p.m.; and Earls of Leicester Featuring Jerry Douglas, Shawn Camp, Charlie Cushman, Tim O’Brien, Johnny Warren and Barry Bales at 7:30 p.m. at Trustees Theatre.
About the Savannah Music Festival
The historic district of downtown Savannah plays host to more than 100 performances during the annual Savannah Music Festival (SMF), which celebrates exceptional artistry in jazz, classical and a variety of American and international musical traditions. Now through April 4, more than 100 programs will be staged in SMF’s most international festival to date. A full schedule and tickets are available at savannahmusicfestival.org. Tickets can also be purchased by phone at 912-525-5050 or at 216 E. Broughton Street in Savannah. For information on lodging, attractions, places to eat and tours, check out VisitSavannah.org.