Savannah Music Festival highlights

More than 80 performances take place over the March 19-April 4 duration of the Savannah Music Festival. Choosing which performances to attend can be daunting. Here are some suggestions of shows that shouldn’t be missed.

Mavis Staples

At 75, gospel-soul legend Staples has barely slowed a step since her days with her family band, The Staple Singers, who frequently lit up the charts in the ‘70s with “Respect Yourself,” “I’ll Take You There” and “If You’re Ready (Come Go with Me).” Staples’ latest studio album, “One True Vine,” arrived in 2013 with production courtesy of Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy.

8 p.m. March 19. $25-$55. Trustees Theater.

The Wood Brothers

This is the third Savannah Music Festival appearance for The Wood Brothers, the Americana-blues trio of brothers Chris (upright bass) and Oliver (guitars) Wood with multi-instrumentalist Jano Rix. Opener AJ Ghent has shared stages with Southern music royalty including the Allman Brothers Band, Col. Bruce Hampton and Brown’s band.

7:30 p.m. March 19. $35. Ships of the Sea North Garden.

Shovels & Rope

The Charleston, S.C.-based duo of Cary Ann Hearst and Michael Trent offers folk-roots rock with zip, particularly during their vivacious live shows. They’ve already earned accolades such as emerging artist of the year and song of the year (for “Birmingham”) at the 2013 Americana Music Honors & Awards.

With Shakey Graves. 8 p.m. March 20. Sold out. Ships of the Sea North Garden.

Sean Jones Quartet and Warren Wolf & Wolfpack

Trumpeter Jones is a familiar name to festival regulars, having performed in 2010 with Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra and in 2012 with Jon Faddis. He will be joined by Orrin Evans (piano), Luques Curtis (bass) and Obed Calvaire (drums). Wolf is known for his prowess on the vibraphone. His “Wolfpack” quartet includes Alex Brown (piano), Kris Funn (bass) and Billy Williams Jr. (drums).

6:30 and 9 p.m. March 26. $35. Charles H. Morris Center. The Sean Jones Quartet also performs at 12:30 p.m. March 27 at the same venue. $20.


Consider them a more modern version of The Chieftains. Since 1997, the quintet has released seven albums and sold more than a quarter million of them. Their commitment to traditional Irish music is apparent on record, but their live skills have been finely honed, thanks to playing thousands of shows across 36 countries.

8 p.m. March 27. $35. Ships of the Sea North Garden.

Lucinda Williams

She’s one of the steeliest of her genre – a Louisianan-turned-Texan whose brand of country, folk, blues and rock has no name. She’s never had major commercial success (Mary Chapin Carpenter’s version of “Passionate Kisses” at least garnered Williams a Grammy in 1994), but albums such as “Car Wheels on a Gravel Road” and “Little Honey” rightfully earned her the distinction of being called “America’s best songwriter” by Time magazine in 2002.

8:30 p.m. March 27. Sold out. Trustees Theater.

Chamber Music V: Emerson String Quartet

This is the first festival appearance from the ensemble since 2012 and the first with new cellist Paul Watkins. The all-Beethoven concert will feature Beethoven’s String Quartet No. 12 in E-flat Major, Op. 127 and String Quartet No. 15 in A minor, Op. 132.

3 p.m. March 29. $52. Temple Mickve Israel.

Béla Fleck with Brooklyn Rider

What would an earthy musical festival be without the presence of Fleck? The ace banjoist has performed at the festival seven times and for this appearance will be joined by the string quartet Brooklyn Rider.

7:30 p.m. March 31. $25-$65. Lucas Theatre for the Arts.

Chamber Music X: Passionate Piano Quartets

Three members of the Chamber Music Society – David Finckel, Wu Han and Paul Neubauer – along with festival Associate Artistic Director Daniel Hope will collaborate on a program of Romantic era masterworks: Mahler’s Piano Quartet in A minor; Schumann’s Piano Quartet in E-flat Major, Op. 47 and Brahms’s Piano Quartet No. 1 in G minor, Op. 25.

3 p.m. April 4. $47-$57. Savannah Theatre.

Rosanne Cash

Few Grammy winners at last month's ceremony were as gracefully excited as Cash, who nabbed three trophies for her acclaimed 2014 album, "The River & The Thread." Cash earned a best Americana album nod, as well as two awards for the song "A Feather's Not a Bird." The success of "The River & The Thread" wasn't only critical. The album debuted at No. 1 on Billboard's Folk Albums chart and No. 2 on the Country Albums lineup.

7:30 p.m. April 4. $32-$75. Lucas Theatre for the Arts.