It's a great time for independent music. Radio is no longer the barometer for what's good (if, indeed, that was ever the case) and the charts - be they for physical recordings, downloads, airplay or club play - still don't give an accurate representation of quality.
With the increasing irrelevance of the major record labels, and the easy access of the Internet, discovering great music is just a click away. Musicians are promoting themselves, and distributing their creativity, all over the globe.
With the Savannah Stopover Festival, everybody wins. More than 50 bands and artists will descend on the city between March 9 and 12, none of them signed to a big-name label, none of them on traditional radio or traditional charts, none of them likely to play the Super Bowl halftime show any time soon.
Ah ... but this is all good music, every spot and stripe, and when some band from this crop does turn up on the cover of Spin or Rolling Stone, we can say "Hey, we saw them when ...." In a small club. For a couple of bucks. With all of our friends by our side.
This is the very first Savannah Stopover (and it's not likely to be the last). The majority of these performers, most of whom have never before experienced the delights of the Hostess City, are on their way to the massive South By Southwest music conference and showcase in Austin, which takes place in mid-March.
Hence the word stopover.
The event is the brainchild of Kayne Lanahan, a music addict and a marketing veteran, who figured out a way to combine her two passions - and to give Savannah a cornerstone brick in the foundation of independent music's massively exciting present and all-important future.
Will 4-day passes still be available by March 9?
Yes, online and at the Jinx, Hang Fire, Live Wire, Primary Arts, Sentient Bean and the Wormhole.
How about single-day passes?
Yep, same deal. You can get day passes at the Creative Coast office (15 W. York), too.
What do I do once I've bought my pass?
You have to go by the Creative Coast office (also known as the Artists' Lounge) and switch it out for the appropriate badge and wristband.
I bought a pass, and I have my badge and wristband. I can get into everything, right?
Not necessarily. Once a club reaches capacity, that's all she wrote. It's suggested you arrive early for the shows you really want to catch.
Why do I need a badge and/or a wristband, and how do I get them?
From Kayne Lanahan: "Because one pass gets you into every show, we didn't want to hand out dozens of tickets to each person, and we need for the venues to be able to distinguish under 21 and over 21 attendees (in addition to carding) and those who have only purchased single day passes. We will do this with different colored wristbands. The badges are additional clarification for VIP holders, press, staff and volunteers."
Will tickets to individual shows be available at the door?
If there are any tickets left, it's quite possible. Again, however, it comes down to capacity. The flow of people will be fluid as opposed to static, so it's hard to predict in advance.
I have a VIP pass. What do I get?
An official Stopover gift bag, access to all private after-parties, admittance to at least one ‘Savannah Stopover Recording Session' at Meddin Studios, and entrance to the closing party on March 13.
Who has access to the Artists' Lounge?
There isn't one per se - at least, it's not as cool as it sounds. All bands and ticket holders will check into the Creative Coast office on York Street; bands will be able to hang out there and use the wi-fi, with dinners each night for musicians, staff and volunteers, catered by Savannah restaurants.
What's the deal with the Microsoft Tag barcode? How does it work and why should I care?
Over to you, Kayne: "It will take you to a mobile dashboard that Microsoft has developed specifically for the festival - it's similar to a smart phone app where you can see the schedule, buy tickets and get updated festival news (including any schedule changes). The Tag has also been incorporated into all of the posters for more digital information on the bands, and will be used to deliver the clues for the scavenger hunt on March 12."
I'm not 21. Which shows can I get into?
Any show at a place that doesn't serve alcohol. That would be Starland, Pei Ling, the Sentient Bean and Civvies.
I'm 21, or older. Do I need to bring my I.D.?
Absolutely. It's a common-sense thing.
Smoke ‘em if you got ‘em ...
... just don't do it inside the clubs. Savannah's new smoking ordinance says you have to go outside, and stay at least 10 feet from the entrance.
Because it's Savannah, I can take my drink with me, right? Can I bring cups into the other clubs?
That's the plan, but it's up to the discretion of each club's doorman (or woman). Plus, says Kayne, "we will have one of the Savannah Fun tours party shuttles, complete with a bar, to take people from Congress Street to River Street and out to the Wormhole."
Will there be porta-potties (or their non-trademarked equivalent) on the street?
Why isn't there an outdoor stage like at other city festivals?
This is the first year. Give ‘em time. Anyway, the Starland/DeSoto Row stage is outdoors (March 9)
Do any of the artists still need a place to crash? Can I help?
Some bands, Kayne reports, have procrastinated on asking the "where do we stay" question. So it's possible. Contact the staff through the Stopover website.
Savannah Stopover Festival
Four-day passes: $65
Single-day passes: $20
The source: savannahstopover.com
From 2 to 4 p.m. March 12 there's a scavenger hunt through the historic district, for those using the Microsoft Tag system. First prize is a pair of tickets to the Bonnaroo Festival in June; second and third prize is tickets to see Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings or the Avett Brothers (Savannah Music Festival shows)
Forty different Stopover posters, designed by SCAD students and local artists, will be displayed March 9 in the Starland district (with live performances). It's a curated and juried exhibit showcasing Savannah Stopover bands. Each of the posters features an interactive component using Microsoft's QR Code Tag technology. First place is $500. Stopover founder and CEO Kayne Lanahan is one of the judges, as is executive director Summer Teal Simpson.