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The Savannah Music Festival: Something for Everyone

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What better way to get ready for a summer filled with outdoor music festivals than with a springtime one? One of the biggest and most diverse—the Savannah Music Festival—lasts from March 20 to April 5, and offers something for everyone.


The SMF is Georgia’s largest musical festival. Unlike many festivals that try to cram a myriad of acts into two or three days, this festival is spread out over two weeks at venues large and small. The festival’s focus is on American traditional music mixed with international beats—think jazz, classical blues, bluegrass, gospel, roots music, flamenco, Indian, and Latin.


How to Choose?
You can decide on which shows you want to see by searching the SMF Web site, which organizes the shows by artist, genre, or series. Some artists you’ll recognize—like Bela Fleck, Emerson String Quartet, and Bruce Hornsby—while others, like the African American string band Carolina Chocolate Drops, might be emerging stars that haven’t yet caught national attention. The genres span the globe from Cajun to Fado to Old Time to Persian.


The series category helps you choose from a group of similar acts for one ticket price. If you’re a jazz buff, you can see all the three concerts in the Savannah Jazz Party for $100; if you’re looking to hear female crooners, you can catch Ana Moura, Audra McDonald, and Jennifer Larmore, all part of the Divine Divas series, for $91. 


If you’re only passing through Savannah, check out the calendar to see who’s onstage while you’re in town.


How Much?
The majority of shows fall in the $15–30 price range, with compilation or larger names costing up to $50 or $75. Prices also vary by venue; there are twelve venues that offer a diverse range of experiences—local churches, Savannah Civic Center, and theatres.


What Else to Do?
Savannah has the slow, relaxed pace of a Southern city, making it a nice place to recover from nights spent dancing at a live show. Stroll through the numerous squares, dine on Southern cuisine on River Street, or catch up on Civil War history. Nearby Tybee Island offers warm beaches and warm ocean water; when I visited we camped, but there are plenty of hotels, ranging from high end to low. See the Savannah Visitors Bureau for a complete listing of activities and accommodations.

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