WELCOME TO SAVANNAH, a town that will crowdsurf you across the room, put tears in your eyes with raw storytelling and soulful melodies, pull you on the dance floor to two-step to country music, and quench your musical thirst with all the artistic passion this weird-and-proud town can muster.
This is a great city for a musician and a music fan, and we’re glad you’ve chosen it as your new home.
Know your rights
Savannah’s alcohol ordinance has undergone some recent changes. As a responsible musical citizen--particularly if you’re under 21 years old--it’s important to have a clear picture of how things work in our venues and bars.
The way things work now—and the way it’s been for a decade—is that, if a show is happening in a bar, people who are under 21 and cannot legally consume alcohol are not allowed entry. Since Savannah’s a town with numerous colleges and a military base, this inhibits a significant percentage of live music supporters.
Luckily, we have several great DIY and all-ages venues throughout Savannah that cater to folks who can’t enter the bars. However, change is coming for bars that want to open their doors to a wider audience.
On August 18, Savannah City Council approved changes to the alcohol ordinance. Beginning January 1, 2017, venues can apply for a specific license that would allow folks aged 18-20 to enter the establishment while there is live music being played (DJs and karaoke aren’t included).
Read: this doesn’t mean that, starting in 2017, anyone can stroll into a bar when they hear a band playing. The keyword here is “license.”
It’s not a widespread ruling that applies to every establishment in Savannah. Some venues aren’t going to apply for one, and that’s all right—it’s up to the business owner to decide whether or not they want to apply for the license and submit the required plan detailing how they’ll prevent underage drinking.
So, given an establishment secures a license and moves forward, people aged 18-20 can arrive, pay their cover, head inside, and enjoy the concert, scream their lungs out, dance all night, buy all the merch, make long-lasting memories, and keep the cycle going until River Street to Victory Drive transforms into one nonstop musical utopia (I mean, hopefully).
Time will tell whether or not businesses will go for the change; however, the ordinance changes also make way for new businesses to open and reach a new audience. How can we keep our scene growing into an inclusive place that cultivates local talent and welcomes touring acts?
Don’t mess it up
If you’re under 21 and get to catch a show in a bar, don’t try to order a drink or ask someone to do it for you. Come on. You get busted, the venue gets busted, and if the venue gets busted, their license is yanked, and no more shows. And that would suck. For everybody. Don’t be an ass, and be safe.
You don’t have to wait ‘til January to check out a show. There are all-ages venues throughout the city: The Sentient Bean, a local coffee shop off Forsyth Park; the SCAD alum-owned Foxy Loxy Print Gallery & Cafe (a crisp fall evening on their patio with a Mexican Mocha and live music is perfection); The Foundery Coffee Pub next to SCAD’s Anderson Hall (the spacious coffee shop hosts the occasional acoustic or rock show); Sulfur Studios, a gallery/studio space/event space; studio/venue Dollhouse Productions; beachside Tybee Post Theater; vintage shop and occasional venue House of Strut; and DIY queer safe(r) space QuoLab. Savannah boasts a rich DIY/house show culture, so keep an eye out for posters, flyers, and social media posts for under-the-radar shows. Organizations like Coastal Rock Productions and Dad Joke promote many all-ages shows, and First Friday Art March offers several stages at their monthly celebration.
Throughout the year, we’ve got plenty of music festivals, including Savannah Stopover (Grimes, Mac DeMarco, Wye Oak, and of Montreal are alums), Savannah Music Festival for the heavy-hitters like Dwight Yoakam, Mavis Staples, and Wilco, World’s Smallest Music Festival, which prioritizes POC, queer, and non-male-identifying artists, and the inaugural Ghost Alley Music Festival (O’Brother, Roadkill Ghost Choir, and more are performing).
Flip the page to learn more about the bands and artists who are proud to call Savannah home, and grab a copy of Connect each week to see what’s happening throughout town.
Here’s to a year of sold-out shows, soft band tees, and vinyl fresh from the merch table!