Tedeschi Trucks, Jason Isbell, Gillian Welch, many more for unveiling of Savannah’s major new venue

The Savannah Music Festival wraps up on Saturday, April 14 with an all day finale (noon to 10:30 p.m.) on three stages encompassing the Morris Center, the freshly rehabilitated Kehoe Iron Works, and the expansive grounds of Trustees’ Garden.

Here’s part of what SMF director Rob Gibson told Joshua Peacock for Do Savannah:

“There have been plenty of outdoor events over the years, but I don’t think there’s been anything like what we’re about to stage with the breadth of artistic talent: Cuban bands, Venezuelan groups, rock bands, jam bands, and folk musicians.

“We’re also erecting a huge stage with a huge sound system, with Meyer equipment,” Gibson continued. “It’s an ambitious day. We’re hoping to get 5,000 people. Trustees Garden is one of the most unique concert spaces this city will have ever seen. Charles Morris carved that hill out and shaped it like an outdoor amphitheater. We have a stage at the bottom of the hill and another by the building.”

In a lengthy piece for in Connect Savannah, editor Jim Morekis takes a deep dive into the site’s history and importance — both historical and contemporary. He writes in part:

Developed by Charles H. Morris, locally-based owner of Morris Multimedia — which includes Connect Savannah — the Kehoe Iron Works project located at East Broad Street in the downtown historic district is the culmination of a four and a half year, multi-million dollar restoration and repurposing which is one of the premier such projects in the country.

“Savannah’s been really good to me, and to all of my family,” says Morris. “I want to give something back to this city. I’m a lucky man to live here.”

The historic site, once a vital and vibrant steel foundry started by William Kehoe in 1883, languished unused for nearly 30 years as a brownfield owned by Atlanta Gas Light.

In a series of purchases beginning in 2003, Morris garnered the entire nearly seven-acre Trustees’ Garden tract, the site of an early experimental garden planted by British colonists who arrived nearly three centuries ago with General James Oglethorpe.

Wait, 5000 people? That’s an ambitious number — more than twice the capacity of the Johnny Mercer Theatre (a venue with some deep flaws) at the Civic Center. I’m certain that the top 2 headliners of the SMF finale — Tedeschi Trucks Band and Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit — could sell out shows this week at the Mercer, but there would surely be a lot of overlap in those audiences.

But combine those two acts with the rest of the lineup — more or less in order through the day: Betsayda Machado and Parranda el Clavo, Savannah-based Velvet Caravan with special guest Jessica Ann Best, Mipso, Brett Dennen, Stringband Spectacular feat. Mike Marshall, Julian Lage, Moira Smiley and Mike Block, Brent Cobb, Daniel Hope & Mike Marshall, Gillian Welch, Marc Broussard, Sammy Miller and the Congregation — and put the show in a historic venue that might forever transform the festival experience in Savannah, and 5000 starts looking more doable. It’s not cheap (current general admission prices are either $120 or $140), but it’s going to be a remarkable day — tickets here.

Of course, so far I haven’t even said anything about the acts, which are stellar all the way through. I’m especially a fan of Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit, but there are excellent performers throughout the day.

The SMF’s FAQ includes the detailed info you need re food trucks, permitted items, banned items, general policies, etc.