OVER the course of 17 days each year, the Hostess City is treated to a full plate of the finest musical talent from around the world. Beneath the smooth-running music marathon—behind every cable, under every red velvet stadium seat—is an expansive staff and crew working hard year-long to give us the best festival possible.
How do we know it’s one of the best events of the year? Just look at the numbers.
For 26 years, SMF has been bringing in nearly 500 of the world’s top musical talents to Savannah annually.
In advance of the 2015 Festival, nearly 29,000 tickets were sold. And it’s not just locals snapping up the tickets: last year, attendees came from 42 states and 16 countries, with nearly 40% of the audience comprising out-of-towners.
More than 300 volunteers keep the festival running smoothly.
“Volunteers are an essential part of the festival machine,” says SMF Executive & Artistic Director Rob Gibson.
“They act as a first point of contact for many patrons, and show incredible dedication throughout the 17 days of SMF. We have more than 300 hard-working community members who fill roles including ushering, merchandise assistance, hospitality, ambassadors for our education program participants, and street team marketing, among others. We could not present this festival without our volunteers.”
More than 30 independent contractors compose and manage the SMF sonic experience, including locals like audio technician Chris Evans, Systems Technician Nate Poehler, Recording Engineer Kevin Rose (of Elevated Basement Studios), and a crew that is headed up by Eric Dunn (The Train Wrecks, Velvet Caravan), Justin Fedor (The New Familiars, Ancient Cities) and Mike Solomon.
The very special newcomer to the team, however, has got to be the custom PA systems installed in the Lucas Theatre and Trustees Theatre.
“We source our audio gear from Rock N Road Audio out of Tucker, Georgia, who has one of the most extensive Meyer Sound inventories in the Southeast,” explains Marketing and Managing Director Ryan McMaken. “We’ve had Meyer systems at Morris Center and Ships of the Sea for several years, but a corporate sponsorship this year allowed us to install custom PAs in the Lucas and Trustees, as well. Rock N Road has also worked with us to provide Digico consoles at the Trustees.”
Meyer Sound partners with Montreux Jazz, Montreal Jazz and Telluride Film Festival, setting SMF in some of the most highly-regarded festival realms.
50% of the 2016 Festival has been booked already. Gibson and Associate Artistic Directors Daniel Hope, Marcus Roberts, and Mike Marshall are dedicated to bringing the best and brightest talent in, so working ahead is crucial.
“People love coming to Savannah in the springtime and the connection between artists and audiences continues to gain momentum with each passing year,” Gibson says.