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2004 Great Ogeechee Seafood Festival

Alright, folks, we’re knee deep in it now. Fall festival season, that is.

With the cooler weather prevailing, it’s now the time of year when all manner of outdoor events start to crank up – many featuring live music as the main attraction.

One of the most popular annual gatherings of this type is the Great Ogeechee Seafood Festival. It’s the single largest event of the year sponsored by the non-profit Richmond Hill-Bryan County Chamber of Commerce.

This time around, in addition to a wide variety of vendors offering all manner of food (most of it ocean-related), the crowds will enjoy a handful of distinctly different acts.

Things kick off Friday night at 5:30 pm, when The Bandtastics (a regional trio playing classic Southern rock) will open for that evening’s headliner, The Swingin’ Medallions (who take the stage at 9 pm).

The Medallions are such a popular draw around these parts, it’s been suggested you can’t have an outdoor festival in the Low Country without at least checking to see if they’re available. While their lineup has changed drastically over the years, this in-demand party band still trots out their signature R & B and beach music hits like “Double Shot of My baby’s Love” and “Hey, Baby,” alongside their more contemporary pop-rock material.

There’s a wealth of talent on board for Saturday night as well. At 5 pm, Phantom Wingo will play tunes from their brand-new indie CD Where You Been...?. This local hard-rocking “swampy” jam group (featuring singing guitarists Ronnie Keel and Tyler Roe) describe themselves quite accurately as sounding a bit like Athens’ Widespread Panic, with soulful vocals that are often compared to those of the legendary Gregg Allman.

Following them will be The Hitmen, an up-and-coming local electric blues combo led by Brett “Hitman” Bernard.

Next up will be a special appearance (at 8 pm) by 2003 American Idol Finalist Kimberly Locke. She is currently enjoying solo success with her two hits “Wrong,” and “Eighth World Wonder.”

Closing out the night at 9 pm, will be old favorites The Atlanta Rhythm Section – or ARS as they’re also known to fans.

This Doraville, Georgia-based group had a string of major radio hits in the 1970s, including “Champagne Jam,” Imaginary Lover” and “Spooky.”

While technically considered a Southern rock group, they had little in common with the more hell-raising acts like Skynyrd or The Outlaws. ARS was always about the pop, the hook and the groove.

After ARS, the festival will conclude with a spectacular fireworks finale. This event is free and open to all-ages. Fri. - Sat., J. F. Gregory Park (Richmond Hill).

2004 Savannah Latin Festival

Organized by the proprietors of Savannah’s Conga Club, this all-day event at Grayson Stadium showcases the music, food and culture of Latin America.

Starting at noon and running till 8 pm, the free festival offers live shows from touring bands in a variety of genres.

You’ll get to hear (and dance to) Merengue (from the Dominican Republic), Reggaeton (Puerto Rican Reggae, which is growing in popularity worldwide), Colombian Cumbias, Mexican Norteñas, Salsa and Bachata.

The artists involved include Son De Mi Tierra (a Cuban band which the promoter likens to the award-winning Buena Vista Social Club), The Tequila Show (from Mexico), Ritmo y Sabor (a Merengue and Salsa band), and Son de Aqui, playing Bachata, a slow form of Latin soul music.

Most of the performers are being brought in specifically for this celebration from as far away as Miami and New York City.

Headlining the show will be the duo of Salcocho and Baby Q, two rising stars on the New York dance scene.

In addition to the live music, there will also be an appearance by local prestidigitator Magic Mark, and plenty of ethnic food and drink available for purchase.

This family-themed festival grows each year, and should be one of the highlights of this Fall season. For more information, call 272-7799. Sat., 12 noon - 8 pm, Grayson Stadium.