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SMF Picks: Week One
Tasty choices for the first leg of the Savannah Music Festival
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Balsam Range

Balsam Range

It's the first show of the fest! Getting the party started is Balsam Range, bluegrass champions in their own right.

At the prestigious 2014 International Bluegrass Music Association awards ceremony, Western North Carolina's Balsam Range earned more nominations than any other group in the genre, leading the way with Vocal Group of the Year and Entertainer of the Year; plus, singer and fiddle player Buddy Melton was named Male Vocalist of the Year.

All you City Hotel and Accomplices fans, gather 'round.

Thursday, March 19, Charles H. Morris Center, 12:30 p.m.

Mavis Staples

Mavis Staples
Mavis Staples

Grammy Lifetime Achievement Winner Mavis Staples has sung her mark into American history.

An early Stax Records artist, Staples led the Staple Singers through such hits as "I'll Take You There" and "Let's Do It Again." Exploring R&B, gospel, soul, and folk music over her storied career, Staples is a living legend and American icon.

Thursday, March 19, Trustees Theater, 8 p.m.

Zydeco Dance Party: Buckwheat Zydeco

Buckwheat Zydeco
Buckwheat Zydeco

A Savannah Music Festival Favorite, Buckwheat Zydeco carries on the tradition of Zydeco's passed king, Clifton Chenier. Slinging his famous accordion, Buckwheat is a major force behind turning the world's eye to the distinctly American form, being the first zydeco artist to sign to a major label. Merging elements of the blues, R&B, and traditional Creole music, it's a thrilling and just downright fun show that will keep you on your feet and moving for its entirety.

Friday, March 20, Charles H. Morris Center,

7 p.m. (sold out), $35

Friday March 20, Charles H. Morris Center,

9 p.m., $35

McIntosh County Shouters

McIntosh County Shouters
McIntosh County Shouters

An incredible experience exploring local history, song, and African-American tradition, the McIntosh County Shouters "shout" is one of African origins and Christian belief. The dancing, percussion, and call-and-response singing is a form honed right here in the Lowcountry during times of slavery, and the McIntosh County Shouters are the foremost practitioners of the tradition.

Saturday, March 21, 12:30 p.m., $20

Dawes

Dawes
Dawes

Influenced by folk greats like Crosby, Stills, and Nash, Neil Young, and Joni Mitchell, California-based Dawes consists of brothers Taylor and Griffin Goldsmith, Wylie Gelber, and Alex Casnoff.

Rich, immersive harmonies and subtle layers of string swells, groaning horns, and fizzling snares allow the band to successfully dip into quiet, ballad moments, like 2011's "A Little Bit of Everything," a piano-laced, country-leaning lesson of a song. The boot-stompers will be satisfied here, too: Dawes can rock when they wanna.

Fans of Band of Horses, Blitzen Trapper, and The Avett Brothers may find it to be their standout Savannah Music Festival show.

Sunday, March 22, Trustees Theater, 7 p.m., $25, 35, 45, 55

The Barr Brothers/The Apache Relay

Barr Bros
Barr Bros

Formed by brothers Brad and Andrew Barr, The Barr Brothers are forerunners in the new Americana movement, employing elements of folk, and rock 'n' roll into their contemporary sound.

Up-and-comers The Apache Relay are part of the new Nashville movement that we saw so strongly demonstrated at this year's Savannah Stopover Music Festival. They've gigged with Mumford & Sons, hit fests like Bonnaroo, and made a name for themselves with their warm, rootsy folk-pop. CS

March 23, Charles H. Morris Center, 7:30, $30

March 24, Charles H. Morris Center, 7:30, $30