Savannah Music Festival Welcomes Bonnie Raitt and Others

Bonnie Raitt
Bonnie Raitt

Savannah, Georgia – The 2009 Savannah Music Festival (SMF), recently called one of the “best events around the world in 2009” by The Times of London, now opens on Wednesday, March 18 to include an opening night concert by Bonnie Raitt with special guest The Randall Bramblett Band. Tickets went on sale on Thursday, January 8, online at www.savannahmusicfestival. org and by phone at 912- 525-5050. Prices are $75 for gold circle seating and $55, 45 and 35 for tiers one through three. Other program changes include the addition of blues singer Corey Harris to “The Blues was Born Here” in place of John Cephas, and old-time multiinstrumentalist Dan Gellert accompanying his daughter Rayna (of Uncle Earl) in three SMF performances. Additionally, Associate Artistic Director Daniel Hope will make a special guest appearance during the “Maestros in Concert” show with Zakir Hussain and Shivkumar Sharma.

Bonnie Raitt is an institution in American music. The recipient of nine GRAMMY awards in her illustrious career, Raitt performs in a style all her own, melding folk, country, blues and rock elements with her distinctive voice and sparkling, gritty slide guitar playing. Moving from Los Angeles to Cambridge, Massachusetts in the late 1960s, she found herself at the heart of that decade’s infamous folk revival. Within three years, Raitt was opening for influential blues musicians like Mississippi Fred McDowell, Son House, Sippie Wallace, Muddy Waters and John Lee Hooker. Alongside her accomplishments in the music business, Bonnie Raitt has been a considerable activist/philanthropist. She co-founded the Rhythm & Blues Foundation in 1988, and is heavily involved in the promotion of America’s musical heritage through programs such as the Bonnie Raitt Guitar Project at the Boys & Girls Club of America.

Corey Harris is at the forefront of a “world blues” genre. Most recently, he released a critically acclaimed blues/reggae album, following Mississippi to Mali, an album fusing the blues of West Africa and the American south. Harris also played a part in Martin Scorsese’s Blues documentary for PBS, traveling throughout West Africa to interview and play music with renowned musicians there. At the beginning of his musical career, Corey Harris released a handful of delta and country blues albums that are regarded as some of the best of his generation. At SMF, Harris plays with harmonica player Phil Wiggins in place of John Cephas, who is on doctor’s orders to stay off the road. “The Blues Was Born Here” also features Beverly “Guitar” Watkins, and takes place on March 19.

Dan Gellert performs American old-time music on banjo and fiddle, and is considered one of the genre’s legends. With over forty years of playing under his belt, Fiddler Magazine recently referred to him as “a commanding and uncompromising talent.” He will join his daughter, fiddler Rayna Gellert, in place of Patrick Sauber at SMF 2009. The two perform mid-day shows at Morris Center on March 19 and 20, and as part of the SMF original production “Long Time Travelin'” the following night, which also includes Tim Eriksen, Jim Lauderdale, the Tatnall River Shapenote Singers, Sacred Harp documentary maker Matt Hinton, and Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver.

“Occurring in the middle of the Johnny Mercer Centennial, our 2009 Festival is book ended by remarkable performances of American music at the Johnny Mercer Theatre, opened by Bonnie Raitt and closed on April 5th by the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra,” remarks SMF Executive & Artistic Director Rob Gibson.

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