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What's Next: Country, R&B and Mercer movies

Free show at Ft. Stewart


Country music’s Trace Adkins (“You’re Gonna Miss This,” “Honky Tonk Badonkadonk”) will headline a free concert July 3 at Donovan Parade Field, Ft. Stewart. The Independence Day weekend show is being called a tribute to military personnel and their families (Ft. Stewart is considered the largest military installation in the eastern United States).

Even better, the bill will reportedly also include R&B singer Ashanti (“Foolish,” “Rock Wit U”); she’s in the middle of a run of “The Wiz” at City Center in New York City, but there are no shows on July 3 and 4 – so she’ll be free to head our way.

Another co-headliner is yet to be announced.

Gates will open at 5 p.m. Stay tuned to Connect Savannah for updates. Did we mention it’s free?


 Heeeere's Johnny

Are you tired of hearing about Johnny Mercer yet? Of course not!

Savannah loves its favorite son, and on this the 100th anniversary of the legendary songwriter’s birth, everything’s coming up Mercer.

Nov. 18, of course, will see the unveiling of sculptor Susie Chisholm’s bronze statue of Big John in Ellis Square (which, like the statue, is not quite finished yet. And why, come to think of it, aren’t they naming it Mercer Square?)

The Savannah Film Festival and the Lucas Theatre get in on the action this week by screening a couple of films that bear the stamp of our hometown hero. From 1963, Stanley Donan’s Charade will be shown at 8 p.m. Thursday and Saturday.

Called (by somebody, somewhere) “The best Hitchcock movie Hitchcock never made,” Charade is a mystery/thriller with a strong romantic component (it stars Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn, duh).

Mercer was the lyricist on the title song, with music by Henry Mancini (this was their followup to the Oscar-winning “Moon River” and “Days of Wine and Roses”).

Jonathan Demme re-made Charade in 2002, with Marky Mark Wahlberg and Thandie Newton, and called it The Truth About Charlie.

Ah, but the big coup here is the 1935 film Old Man Rhythm, screening at 8 p.m. Friday and 3 p.m. Saturday. This college-caper comedy was an early B-movie vehicle for Betty Grable, who’s fifth on the bill after Buddy “Wings” Rogers, George Barbier and a few actors I’ve never heard of.

Old Man Rhythm is significant because it marked Johnny Mercer’s very first appearance in a Hollywood film. In his mid 20s, he plays a character called Colonel.

(Mercer acted in exactly one more movie, To Beat the Band, released the same year, and then he gave up on thespianism.)

On more familiar turf, he penned the lyrics for these Old Man Rhythm soundtrack tunes: “There’s Nothing Like a College Education,” “Boys Will Be Boys,” “Comes the Revolution, Baby,” “I Never Saw a Better Night” and “Old Man Rhythm.”

Lucille Ball appears in the film, too, uncredited and without a word of dialogue. You have to look for her.

Tickets $8 public, $6 seniors and military, $4 with SCAD ID. Call (912) 525-5050 or visit

And now, this

@ In still more Mercer news, writer Miriam K. Center’s original play, “Johnny and Me,” will have its world premiere July 11, in a Savannah Community Theatre production in the Savannah Civic Center’s Exhibit Hall.

@ Big ol’ cigar-chomping Texas comedian Ron “Tater Salad” White will perform Aug. 22 at the Johnny Mercer Theatre, inside the Savannah Civic Center. Tickets are $42.75.

@ If you’re really into looking ahead, try this: Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra have already announced their 2010 Savannah Music Festival date – it’s March 28 in the Johnny Mercer Theatre.