John Hendrix, Staff Writer
This past Saturday, the greater Savannah community came together for the seventh annual Statts Fest, a local music festival that aimed to raise money for Jason Statts, a local artist and victim of gun violence.
Statts and his bandmate David Williams were both shot in the neck on June 28, 2008, while unloading their band’s gear after their first show. Statts now has quadriplegia, though he has partial use of his arms. His rising medical bills inspired his friends and members of the community to start Friends of Statts, an organization dedicated to providing Statts with healthcare assistance through donations.
This year, Friends of Statts rented Grayson Stadium for Statts Fest, their largest venue yet.
“We just decided this year that it would be good to have a family-friendly event, and with the [Savannah] Bananas moving into town, they want to utilize the stadium throughout the year… they’ve been awesome to work with,” Emily Doherty, board member of the Friends of Statts, said.
With the addition of bounce castles, face-painting, and a “build-a-beard” workshop, Statts Fest had plenty of activities for children. The music at this year’s festival was also more family-friendly, with a larger focus on country and blues, a far cry from the bands that would play at The Jinx, a local club which has hosted Statts Fest before.
Rather than having heavy metal groups like Black Tusk, this year’s festival hosted a number of acts including The Train Wrecks, City Hotel, Joe Nelson and James Pittman, Bottles & Cans, Waits & Co., and Damon and the Shitkickers. “Gil Cruz works at The Jinx and books bands, and he got all the bands to donate their time,” Emily Doherty said.
Not only did patrons donate their time, but more than 36 local artists and businesses donated to this year’s silent auction: everything from gift cards to original works of art by artists such as Scott Stanton—Savannah’s own Panhandle Slim.
“The community is always really, really supportive of the auction here at Statts Fest and we always have so many donations,” Genna Matson, who ran the silent auction, said. Even Grayson Stadium’s own Savannah Bananas contributed to Statts Fest by donating 50 percent of their beer and wine sales. The food trucks located on the baseball diamond, many of which were also at the Savannah Food Truck Festival, also donated a percentage of their sales.
From the food trucks to the volunteers manning the ticket booth, everyone at Statts Fest had donated in some way. “Everyone’s kinda gotten around [Statts Fest] and embraced it,” Emily Doherty said.