You didn’t come to Savannah to eat pond-raised shrimp from China.
At least, the Georgia Shrimpers Association, which raised the billboard bearing that declaration on East Victory, doesn’t think so. Therefore, the organization is a co-sponsor (and providing the oceanic delicacies for) this weekend’s Mid-Summer Sampler, which features an all-you-can-eat shrimp boil and tons of other food, an open host bar, raffles, live music, an art show, runway fashion shows from local shops, and – on Sunday – competitive volleyball with the Bikini Nation models.
The event is the brainchild of photographer and cinematographer Roi Crapse, along with local fashionista Jennifer B. Hagan, who’s executive director of the modeling outfit Bikini Nation (Crapse is their senior photographer, and there’ll be a display of his work).
For now, let’s focus on the music. The three-day event features a different local band each day, and they’re among the best in the city: The Josh Maul Blues Band Friday night, Bottles & Cans Saturday night and the Jeff Beasley Band Sunday afternoon.
Beasley, who sometimes performs as a solo act (armed with an acoustic guitar, a suitcase, a drum pedal and a tambourine) also fronts a band that runs the gamut from classic rock and electric blues, to poly-rhythmic swing and funk. It’s diverse cookbook. “My sound encompasses the sound of the Low Country,” he explains. “It’s all kind of bluesy and groove-y.”
A native of Savannah, Beasley lived in Athens for a while, then spent seven years in highly competitive Nashville, trying to grab the brass ring as a songwriter. He came home in 2002, firm in his belief that “it’s better to be in a small market like Savannah, where you can play and work on your craft. Find out who you are as an artist.”
In Nashville, “I lost who I was. I was writing all these supposedly great songs, in my mind – when I listen back, they really weren’t – but I was chasing my tail.”
In Savannah, he started working, and working hard. In 2008, he played 290 shows.
“With the tourists, you can play the same venue six nights a week and you won’t see the same people,” Beasley says. “If it was a smaller market, where there weren’t any tourists, you’d have to bop around more. You’d have to leave town.”
He plays his original material with the band, but that’s not the whole spectrum of his repertoire. “If you want to play a lot,” Beasley says, “and make better tips and keep playing a lot, you have to play cover songs.”
His “other” job is as a talent booker – Beasley is friendly with, and keeps tabs on, virtually all the performers in town. Both the Warehouse and Jazz’d Tapas Bar employ him to arrange their nightly music performances.
“I know which band to put in which club,” he says.
Where: 513 W. Jones St.
When: Friday, Aug. 7 (7 p.m.-1 a.m.); Saturday, Aug. 8 (7 p.m.-1 a.m.) Sunday, Aug. 9 (2 p.m.-10 p.m.)
Tickets: $50 per day (VIP $100)
Phone: (912) 658-3971