Frank Stewart/Savannah Music Festival
Musical gumbo: The Savannah Music Festival mixes a broad variety of musicians and genres each year.
The city of Savannah, Ga. conjures up images of the sleepy Old South — sultry summer nights and Spanish moss dripping like lace from the live oak trees. But a few months before summer hits Savannah each year, you'll find little that's sleepy at all, as the entire city comes alive in music.
Late in March, the Savannah Music Festival unpacks an extraordinarily broad range of musicians, spreading them over a two-week period in 15 different venues throughout the city's historic district.
The 9-year-old festival prides itself on variety, offering a virtual melting pot of musicians to suite almost everyone's taste: jazz practitioners Marcus Roberts, Dianne Reeves and Bill Charlap; world music masters Salif Keita and Ballaké Sissoko; bluegrass greats Chris Thile and Doyle Lawson; indie rockers the Avett Brothers; bluesman James Cotton; roots rockers Butch Hancock and Jimmie Dale Gilmore; and a trove of classical artists like Simone Dinnerstein, The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Stile Antico and the Emerson String Quartet.
And those were just a few of the musicians who showed up this year.
The festival also gets a kick out of dividing concerts between seemingly odd bedfellows. You show up for a Bill Frisell show and you also get Malian ngoni superstar Bassekou Kouyate's family band. And the Brazilian guitar duo Sergio and Odair Assad get paired with Romani fiddle virtuoso Roby Lakatos from Hungary.
This year, festival officials were kind enough to let us share a few of the top classical concerts from the 2011 festival. Click on the links below to hear the complete concerts and read more about the artists.