Eleven South Georgia Music Events to Experience this Spring

Whether it’s singing in a church choir, harmonizing at a family reunion or picking guitars by a bonfire, music is as natural to South Georgia as pine trees and wiregrass. It’s only fitting, then, that music events incorporate the landscape, traditions and local fare into their experiences. Expand your musical horizons by taking in a concert or performance in a wonderfully unconventional South Georgia setting, from an earth-trembling swamp to to a landmark of civil rights history.

Slide guitarist Ben Sparaco (Photo by Aeric Moskowitz)

Slide guitarist Ben Sparaco (Photo by Aeric Moskowitz)

March 17 – 18, 2017
Swamptown Getdown
Okefenokee Fairgrounds, Waycross

Native Americans called the Okefenokee Swamp “land of the trembling earth” and the seventh annual music and arts festival adds another layer of shakin’ to the swamp with two days of bands. The 2017 lineup includes Athens-based rock heroes Bloodkin, Ben Sparaco, Bonnie Blue, Copperhead South, Dangfly!, Pine Box Dwellers, De Lions of Jah and more. In addition to music, check out local food vendors and artists exhibiting their wares.

Albany Symphony Orchestra (Photo by Todd Stone)

Albany Symphony Orchestra (Photo by Todd Stone)

March 25, 2017
“A French Excursion”
Albany Symphony Orchestra
Albany Municipal Auditorium
For more than 50 years, the Albany Symphony Orchestra has served as a musical and cultural anchor in South Georgia. In the third concert of its season, the ASO will be joined by a combined chorus of Southwest Georgia college choruses and community choirs to perform Durufle’s gorgeously impressionistic “Requiem.” Led by conductor Claire Fox Hillard, the ASO will present Claude Debussy’s impressionistic masterpiece “La Mer.”



April – August
Wild Adventures All-Star Concerts

In 2017, Wild Adventures Theme Park, which also includes a waterpark and animal park, presents 15 all-star concerts and each is included with park admission or with a season pass. Concerts include: John Michael Montgomery (4/1); The Beach Boys (4/8); Lecrae (4/22); Rodney Atkins (4/29); The All-American Rejects (5/6); For King & Country (5/13); Chris Janson (5/20); Lynyrd Skynyrd (5/27); Kirk Franklin (6/03); Big & Rich (6/10): Huey Lewis and The News (6/17); MercyMe (6/24); Maddie & Tae (7/8); The Lacs (7/22); and Skillet (8/5).

The Turpentine

The turpentine still at the Georgia Museum of Agriculture & Historic Village at ABAC

April 8, 2017
Folklife Festival
Georgia Museum of Agriculture & Historic Village at ABAC, Tifton
The day-long event celebrates Georgia’s rich, rural history and how people lived from the late 1800s to early 1900s. Music was a central part of life back then and old-time, country and bluegrass musicians will be located throughout the grounds all day. Attendees also enjoy the annual firing of the turpentine still, the Vulcan steam train and the opening of the seasonal Wiregrass Farmer’s Market.

Turnpike Troubadours (Photo by Justin Voight)

Turnpike Troubadours (Photo by Justin Voight)

April 22, 2017
Due South Festival
Creative District Amphitheatre, Thomasville
Due South Festival moves over to the brand new Creative District Amphitheatre in 2017 with music by Turnpike Troubadours, Cordovas and The New 76ers. Hosted by Thomasville Center for the Arts in partnership with Thomasville National Bank, the event celebrates the authentic Southern connection between land, family and tradition in the Rose City.

Downtown Valdosta

May 8 – 12, 2017
Brown Bag Lunch Concert Series
Lowndes County Courthouse Lawn, Valdosta
The weeklong concert series presents a different band each day from 11:30 a.m. until 1:30 p.m. in downtown Valdosta. Bring a lunch or purchase one onsite from a variety of downtown restaurant booths. The free series is presented by Valdosta Main Street in recognition of National Historic Preservation Month.


Sam & Dave (L-R: Sam Moore, Dave Prater)

May 10 – 12, 2017
Prater Music Fest
The hometown of Dave Prater, the late soul icon and one-half of the duo Sam & Dave, celebrates the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer’s legacy with three days of events. Wednesday’s community worship service is hosted at the 109-year-old Mt. Olive A.M.E. church, which was Prater’s church, and will feature local choirs. Thursday night’s banquet will include an announcement of the first Prater High School Music Scholarship and Friday night’s Bl0ck Party in downtown Ocilla will feature artists t/b/a as well as the award-winning Irwin County High School Show Choir.


May 11 – 13, 2017
Great Southern Music Festival
“Down home” is how the friendly owners describe this three-day lakeside festival in Thomasville. Twice a year, in May and October, campers with RVs and tents trek to Pickers Paradise Park for a long weekend of bluegrass performances, jam sessions, food and friends old and new. The 2016 lineup includes Trinity River Band, Blue Shades of Grass, Blue Holler, Kenny Hill Band, Ten Mile Branch, Bottom Dollar Band and more.

Evan Barber & the Dead Gamblers at Briar Patch 2016 (Photo by Oysters & Pearls)

Evan Barber & the Dead Gamblers at Briar Patch 2016 (Photo by Pearls & Oysters)

May 19 & 20, 2017
Briarpatch Music Festival
For its eighth annual gathering, the Briarpatch Music Festival moves to temporary digs at Chehaw in Albany due to the tornado damage its regular Damascus location suffered earlier this year. Chehaw’s 800-acre campus is home to a zoo, exhibits, camping facilities and plenty of room for a festival capturing the rural vibe that Briarpatch has perfected. Details and a lineup up of bands will be announced soon.


Every Second Saturday
The Albany Civil Rights Institute Freedom Singers
Albany Civil Rights Institute
During the Albany Movement in the early 1960s, the rich musical tradition of congregational singing become an important part of mass meetings and marches. In 1962, the Freedom Singers, a quartet of local students and civil rights activists, was formed in Albany at the urging of Pete Seeger and dispatched to travel the country raising awareness, registering voters and sharing songs, many of which were traditional hymns revised with freedom lyrics. Every Second Saturday original Freedom Singer Rutha Harris leads a modern ensemble of Freedom Singers in a free performance and interpretive program at the Albany Civil Rights Institute in the adjoining Mount Zion Church, where Dr. King spoke in 1961.


Albany Beer and Hymns
Harvest Moon Saloon, Albany
The idea of church music and beer bringing people together may seem a little odd, but apparently it’s a movement that is slowly spreading and it has made its way to Albany. Gabriel Lawrence told the the Albany Herald, “I came into contact with the Beer and Hymns idea from the Wild Goose Festival held every year in the mountains of North Carolina, kind of a Woodstock for Christians — lots of art, spirituality, music. They actually closed out each night with a session of Beer and Hymns.” When he moved to Albany recently, Lawrence organized a special “Beer and Carols” version to kickstart the concept and more than 300 people turned out while another 100 had to be turned away because there was no more room. In the wake of devastating tornadoes that hit Albany in January, the gathering proved healing and two truckloads of supplies were donated for storm survivors. Check out the Facebook page for upcoming dates and themes.






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