The 2nd annual Revival Fest certainly lived up to expectations — and my expectations were really high.
It was cloudy but cool to start the day (I got to the Georgia State Railroad Museum about 12:30 p.m.), and I’m sure the threat of rain kept some folks away in the afternoon. Too bad for them. Savannah-based acts Sweet Thunder Strolling Band, Waits & Co., and Velvet Caravan were among the early performers at the festival — all drew enthusiastic fans and made a lot of new fans too.
Blank Range from Nashville played a strong early set at the outdoor stage but were even better much later at night at The Jinx — I’ve got a few shots from each of those sets below.
One bit of advice for next year: consider doing the VIP thing. I paid extra for VIP access, which included some comfortable seating in a tent decked out with some vintage furniture and Moroccan lanterns, quite a lot of free beer, quick attention from bartenders, and Royal Restrooms. I still had to buy my food for the day (wow, was Pacci’s pork slider good) and liquor drinks, but the added comfort was worth the money.
I took photos through the day — and got at least a few decent ones of every act plus some others of the crowd. As photographers know, it’s kind of tough getting daytime shots on a stage that is framed by a bright sky and covered by an ugly white tarp, but I did OK, especially once Athens-based Family and Friends lit up the entire west side of town.
I’ll have separate photo sets of a few acts that I’ll publish later in the week — Family and Friends included.
The rest of the afternoon was comprised of some excellent touring acts with pleasantly different styles — Water Liars from Oxford, Megan Jean and the KFB from Charleston (sort of, the couple is on the road pretty much constantly), Packway Handle Band from Athens, and Dirty Bourbon River Show from New Orleans.
By evening, the skies were clearing, the crowd slowly growing again, and the music even more powerful.
Time for a shoutout to Capital A Productions for the excellent sound and staging throughout the day. Excellent job.
I’ll have a separate post later with photos of and reflections on the work of T. Hardy Morris — I simply love what he has going on. Ditto for the next two evening acts: Cedric Burnside Project from Holly Springs, Mississippi, and Roadkill Ghost Choir, who just relocated to Athens from Deland, Florida. There really seems no limit to how big some of these performers could get, if they stay true to the music and are savvy about their careers.
Revival Fest’s outdoor stage wrapped with David Wax Museum, who really engaged the crowd, and then Futurebirds finished things up inside — a beautiful set too. Later, Blank Range was at The Jinx, and then sometime much later — so late I was gone — Wild Child took to the stage. The Austin band and alum from the first Revival Fest has been in Savannah recording at Dollhouse Productions, but their appearance at The Jinx seemed a surprise to all around.
A final word: sometimes the Savannah music scene seems really small, tightly contained. But I only knew a small fraction of the hundreds that came and went to Revival Fest throughout the day. Some obviously might find it difficult to go out to live music because they have kids. Others likely just don’t like the late nights and/or loud bars that comprise most of our venues. Others might be drawn to festivals like this that have been well-curated and well-marketed, but those same folks might not have the time or the energy to sift through the music listings each week.
Anyway, it was great to see so many new faces supporting an event of this caliber in just its 2nd year.
Kudos especially to Kayne Lanahan, a very occasional contributor to this blog and CEO of MusicFile Productions (parent company of both Revival Fest and Savannah Stopover), and her team that includes Russell Kueker, Peter Robaudo, and a host of volunteers. If you’re curious about the other organizations and businesses contributed to the success of Revival Fest, check out the festival website and click through to see the food and drink vendors, sponsors, and retailers.