SMF 2019 Lineup Kick Off with a Night of Georgia Soul and Blues

Graphic by: Brittni Favorite

Graphic by: Brittni Favorite

By: Laura Weyman, Travel Editor

Friday Nov 9, the team behind the annual Savannah Music Festival will announce the 2019 festival lineup with a night of Georgia Soul and Blues. This event will take place at the Lucas Theatre for the Arts.

The Lucas stage will be shared by two blues artists who are generations apart. 22-year-old, Jontavious Willis and 73-year-old, William Bell will be playing on stage that Friday.

Bell is described by music agency Northstar Artists as, “The man who co-wrote one of the most covered songs in blues/rock music history” and “an original soulman”.

You may have indirectly heard a William Bell song if you’ve listened to Pretty Light’s tune, “Finally Moving,” which was sampled from his famous hit, “Private Number.” Pretty Lights’ version was later reinterpreted by Flo Rida in his famous 2011 pop hit, “Good Feeling.”

If you are more familiar with classic blues guitarists, you may know William Bell through Eric Clapton and Cream’s cover of his song, “Born Under a Bad Sign.”

Bell found success sporadically throughout his career like when he released “Tryin’ to Love Two” in 1977. It became a Top 10 pop hit and climbed up to #1 on the R&B charts.

After taking a 30-year hiatus from major record labels, Bell finally released a new album in 2016. He teamed up with John Leventhal, a renowned producer, and recorded “This is Where I Live,” which won a Grammy award for Best Americana album.

Jontavious Willis, a Greenville, GA native, could pass for a younger version of blues musician Taj Mahal on acoustic guitar—a true Bluesman.

Jontavious Willis performing at a festival. Photo by

The intent behind his soulful voice and powerful plucking and strumming reveals his musical background and passion for the blues.

Willis grew up singing Gospel in church, and, at the age of 14, he discovered the blues through YouTube when he stumbled upon a video of Muddy Water’s “Hoochie Coochie Man.”

This was the beginning of his love affair with string instruments. He taught himself guitar, banjo, as well as the harmonica and cigar box.

Four years later, in 2015, Mahal himself invited him to share his stage.

The legendary blues musician described Jontavious Willis as his “Wonderboy.” He said, “That’s my Wonderboy, the Wunderkind. [Jontavious] is a great new voice of the 21st century in the acoustic blues. I just love the way he plays.

The lineup for this kickoff party, makes the 2019 spring lineup look promising. Don’t miss it and make sure to grab your tickets before they sell out! Visit the Savannah Music Festival website to purchase them online.