Savannah Fest offers blues from Buddy Guy, jazz from Kenny Barron

Credit: David McClister

Credit: David McClister

Historic city offers 17 days of world, Americana, folk, bluegrass and classical music.

Music from such icons as blues giant Buddy Guy and jazz eminence Kenny Barron, Malian ngoni melodies, white soul from St. Paul and the Broken Bones, Chicano rock from Los Lobos, and classical elegance from the Emerson String Quartet, are some examples of the sounds that will enliven one of the Southeast’s most approachable festivals.

Credit: Takashi Okamoto

Credit: Takashi Okamoto

With all venues in walking distance among Savannah’s historic downtown squares, the 17-day Savannah Music Festival, which begins March 23, has gained international attention. Crippled by the pandemic in 2020 and severely limited in 2021, the festival came back to three-quarter strength last year.

This year, “it is full-fledged and then some,” said artistic director Ryan McMaken. “All trends are looking really good.”

Among other jazz lions appearing in Savannah will be trumpeter Terence Blanchard, saxophonist Charles McPherson, pianist Eddie Palmieri and bassist Dave Holland. Roots rock standard-bearers Tedeschi Trucks Band will be joined by Atlanta native Eddie 9-Volt.

McMaken particularly recommended a double bill pairing American jazz vocalist Cecile McLorin Salvant with the French vocal and percussion ensemble San Salvador, who sing in Occitan, a medieval dialect from the Languedoc region still spoken in parts of France. Occitan is also one of Salvant’s three languages.

It is this kind of experimental but intuitive programming that gives the Savannah fest its improvisational gusto.


Savannah Music Festival

March 23-April 8. Throughout historic downtown Savannah. Tickets start at $31;