Saturday, December 11, 2010

Songs of the South - Savannah-style

There was no end to Savannah's entertainment possibilities: clubs, theatres, special performances, . . .you name it, we had a full menu from which to choose. So many choices and so little time.  Add to that, the musicians entertaining in many restaurants and cocktail lounges . . . some so good that they brought us back for second helpings.

Such was the case with Downie Mosley

Downie Mosely 
 Jackie Smith  photo 2010 
 Mr. Mosley plays piano in Planters Tavern in the basement of The Olde Pink House Restaurant (23 Abercorn St., 912-232-4286) on Reynolds Square. We'd stopped in for an after-dinner drink, having dined Sunday evening in one of the more formal (and very popular, it seemed) upstairs rooms.

Actually, we'd gone to the restaurant in hopes of hearing a singer that Joel's Kirkland barber had raved about, Ms. Cidra Sams. Keith had heard her a few months ago. But Ms Sams was off that night; lucky for us, Mr. Mosley wasn't.

(I am using the courtesy titles in this post that we found were the norm in this city. You always refer to folks by their title and surname - I was 'Mrs. Smith', well, at least when they didn't call me  'darlin' . . .which happened quite often.)

With the tarvern's dark, low-slung ceiling -- the wood floor-board beams of the main floor-- and the taper candles used to illuminate the printed menus I wouldn't have been surprised to see ale being served in tankards. After all we were in a home built by a wealthy planter back in 1773 on land granted by the crown of England.  Back then it was the Habersham House and this bar had been the kitchen, we were told.

But back to Mr. Mosley, who sits at the piano near one of the two enormous fireplaces that anchor each end of the room. He was such a performer and played with such enthusiasm, that he captured the attention of diners and drinkers alike.  His wasn't cocktail lounge background music; he was center stage. And it wasn't the electronically-enhanced set medley of songs, nor did he use sheet music.  You requested a song and he played it.

Downie Mosley and Cidra Sams
Jackie Smith photo 2010
By the time he'd given us a sampling of songs written by Savannah's famous son, Johnny Mercer, we knew we would return the next night - right about the time that Mr. Mosley started playing. (And that night we got to meet Ms. Sams as well!)

(Hint:  Do click the Johnny Mercer link, it will give you a sample of  his music, thanks to a great YouTube posting.) 

Photos on this post are taken by me and you'll need my permission to reuse them.

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