What's sure to be the Americana tour of 2013 is coming to Savannah next April, as one of the Savannah Music Festival's hallmark concerts.
Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell, who have been close friends and musical co-conspirators since the mid 1970s, are releasing their first-ever album as a duo, Old Yellow Moon. "For me," says Crowell, "the record's overall tone calls to mind that southern California blend of country music and rock ‘n' roll pioneered by Linda Ronstadt, the Flying Burrito Brothers, Gram Parsons and, of course, Emmylou and the Hot Band. Keep an eye out."
The festival brings Harris and Crowell to the Johnny Mercer Theatre on April 3.
Even better: The opening act will be British guitar legend Richard Thompson and his band.
Diverse as ever, the 2013 Savannah Music Festival will feature exemplary artists from a wide cross-section of artists. In fact, this is probably the most vibrant SMF lineup of the decade thus far.
On the Americana/acoustic front, mandolin great David Grisman plays the Trustees Theater April 5; his Folk Jazz Trio is sharing the bill with violin prodigy Sarah Jarosz.
And Jerry Douglas, the acknowledged master of the Dobro who performed here a few months ago as part of Alison Krauss & Union Station, brings his band to the Charles Morris Center for two shows April 2.
Douglas and company share the bill with the Old-Time Kozmik Trio, string players Darol Anger, Bruce Molsky and Rushad Eggleston.
Darol Anger, in fact, ret-teams with his longtime running buddy Mike Marshall (mandolin) at the Morris Center April 3.
Also on the schedule:
Keller Williams & the Travelin McCourys (March 30), a paiting of one of America's most innovative acoustic guitarisets with a world-class bluegrass trio;
Fiddler Casey Driessen, a member of Abigal Washburn's Sparrow Quartet, he also sat in with Bela Fleck & the Flecktones in 2011 (April 1);
Masters of Bluegrass (March 28). J.D. Crowe, Del McCoury, Bobby Hicks, Bobby Osborne and Jerry McCoury. Need we say more?;
The Wood Brothers. Soulful singing, acoustic guitar and upright bass. A Savannah favorite. With Merlefest Songwriting Competition winner Lera Lynn (March 23);
Joy Kills Sorrow (April 4): Progressivbe bluegrass/jazz band from Boston featuring the lovely Emma Beaton on vocals;
Della Mae/Steep Canyon Rangers. The former is an all-female bluegrass group; the latter is the bluegrass outfit that plays with Steve Martin (no, he isn't scheduled to be here). (March 31).
Jazz and blues
First on the list - and drawfing all those who come after - is piano legend Ahmad Jamal, a "Zen master" of the keyboard who's been making musical magic since 1948. His trio will play the Trustees Theater March 23.
"Jazz Meets Cabaret" combines the seductive vocal talents of Jane Monheit with American Songbook star Jennifer Sheehan; the pair will share a Morris Center bill for multiple performances, March 24-26.
Also on the schedule:
Rene Marie Quartet/Houston Pearson Quartet (March 28). Vocalist Marie fronts a top-drawer trio featuring bassist Elias Bailey, drummer Quentin Baxter and pianist Kevin Bales;
Charles McPherson Quartet/Walter Blanding Septet, two ensembles led by two distinctive saxophone voices (March 27);
Tab Benoit/Otis Taylor (April 6). Louisiana's top blues guitarist and performer paired with a multi-dimensional singer, guitarist, banjo player and social commentator.
SMF associate artistic director Daniel Hope returns with an all-new series of intimate recitals featuring some of the world's top musicians. This year, the shows are all over town, from the Charles Morris Center to Trinity United Methodist Chuch.
The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra's keynote concert (April 6, Johnny Mercer Theatre) will debut a brand-new, commissioned piano concerto for jazz trio by keyboard wizard Marcus Roberts. The program also includes Christopher Theofanidis' commissioned work Rainbow Body, and Leonard Bernstein's Symphonic Dances From West Side Story.
The Miami String Quartet makes it local debut April 2.
New York's Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company makes its Savannah debut March 23, in the Lucas Theatre, with the program Play & Play: An Evening of Movement and Music. The inspirational Jones was the recipient of a Kennedy Center Award from President Obama in 2010.
Rhythm ‘n' blues
Those of us who still reel and rock from the 2011 SMF appearance of the high-octane Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings are drooling to see Charles Bradley & His Extraordinaires, a James Brown/Famous Flames funk band that's become the top act on Jones' Daptone Records label,. March 21, Trustees Theater. That's right, baby.
There are zydeco dance parties, a saxophone summit, a Latin Dance Party with the Spanish Harlem Orchestra, and more jazz, blues and classical shows, all in various venues and at various times of day.
The pop and/or rock shows, as always, won't be announced for a month or two yet. But there's usually some great stuff there, too.
For tickets, details, facts and figures, see savannahmusicfestival.org.
Portguese fado music returns in the form of seductive vocalist Ana Moura, who appeared at the 2007 SMF. This concert features the world premiere of Patrick Messina's Songs of the Night, commissioned for Savannah. According the SMF, "it will weave together the ancestral connection of classical music, world music and jazz, including original repertoire inspired by Sicilian folk music, North African rhythms, Italian opera melodies and Medieval chant."