First off, I guess it’s worth noting that Savannah Stopover isn’t going to be critically impacted by the loss of Moon River Brewing Company‘s beer garden as a venue for the 3-day indie music festival on March 5-7. There are other venues that can be relied on a little more heavily, and, given the chilly weather last year for a few shows, some might be perfectly happy to see more shows inside.
But Moon River was a pretty sweet venue for acts like Hurray for the Riff Raff. The beer garden is comfortable, large, and well-designed, and the space provided a nice break from the local clubs.
Why is Stopover not using Moon River? From the Stopover website:
The venue change was precipitated by a request from the city for a written agreement between the neighboring News Place Condominium board, Moon River and Savannah Stopover due to prior noise complaints from condominium residents. The terms of the agreement requested by Savannah Stopover were rejected by the condo’s board and the city would provide no assurance that the shows would not be shut down.
Festival Founder/CEO Kayne Lanahan released this statement. “We are disappointed in this outcome given that the music planned for Moon River was scheduled to end by 9:30pm and focused on folk, americana, bluegrass and all ages, family-friendly music. We bent over backwards to make this work for everyone. In the end, our commitment remains to the bands and festival attendees that these artists are allowed to perform without threat of interruption or cancellation and we are grateful to the support from Moon River throughout this process and from our other venues in accommodating these changes.”
News Place extends from Whitaker to Barnard streets along Bay Street. All these are busy roads and busy areas for tourist activity in a city with pretty mild weather much of the year. Moon River’s beer garden is across Whitaker Street from the building, and only a portion of the News Place condos even have windows on that side.
Noise issues are tricky, and I often find myself siding with residents in noise disputes about all manner of distractions — from overnight train horns to unnecessarily loud bass from a nearly empty nightclub. But theses owners know that they’re living in condos — or renting them out via sites like Airbnb — in an active downtown district with lots of restaurants, bars, and clubs, including ones with outdoor areas. If a festival like Savannah Stopover that’s doing so much good for the city and a low-key business like Moon River can’t have outdoor music until 9:30 p.m. on one of the busiest weekends of the year, then we have some serious problems in this town. This is ridiculous.