My favorite thing about Rob Gibson's vision for the Savannah Music Festival is the way he books performers who are musicians first - as opposed to celebrities who happen to play music.
While this year's edition of the Festival features at least one entrant in the latter category - Zooey Deschanel of She & Him is the textbook definition of a celebrity who happens to play music - the vast majority of performers are in the Festival purely for their unassailable credibility as musicians.
(Read Bill DeYoung's interview this week with Zooey's colleague M. Ward.)
I imagine there's pressure every year for the Festival to book more acts with household names, but to me the aspect of the Festival that's most unique is the remarkably consistent quality of the performers, as well as the inherent educational aspect of turning on new audiences to these performers.
(It's important not to confuse the local effort with what Charleston's Spoleto does. There's little comparison. Spoleto specifically focuses on new work which may or not be of uniformly high quality; the Savannah Music Festival is largely built around the existing tour schedules of established masters who are always of extremely high quality and may or may not be widely known. Subtle but very key difference.)
The Festival has already featured several incredible shows, from the stunning virtuosity of opening act Lang Lang and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra to the homegrown blues stylings of Kristina Train to the wild and wooly Gypsy sound of Roby Lakatos.
(See our daily reviews at connectsavannah.com, as well as in the print edition this week).
This edition of Connect Savannah arrives in the middle of the Festival's second week - actually its first full week - and the upcoming schedule could be considered the most crowd-friendly of the lot, including the high-profile gigs by the aforementioned She & Him and of course the long-sold-out Wilco show.
But don't forget the ongoing house party that's going on at the Charles H. Morris Center, home of the Connect Americana series. (And I'm not saying that just because Mr. Morris signs my paychecks, though that certainly doesn't hurt!)
As anyone who's been will attest, the Morris Center is the best place to see and hear these fine musicians in an intimate, fun setting with great acoustics. There's the crucial added bonus of a nearby cash bar - win-win all around!