Category Archives: Festivals

2018 Bonnaroo Artists Announced

Bonnaroo 2018 lineup has been released and guess who’s back, back again! Above: some satisfied 2017 customers…

BY MARK JACKSON

Eminem is set to play several festivals and will be the Headliner act for Bonnaroo this year. Eminem last played Bonnaroo back in 2011. Other headliners for 2018 also include The Killers, and Muse.

This year’s lineup is once again a great mix that promises to have something for everyone. With acts such as Future, T-Pain, Brock Hampton, Khalid, and Playboi Carti and of course Eminem, the rap fan should be more than happy.

Last year was the first for the Full sized Other Stage which was turned into the Techno/House stage that rivaled the main stage in size and a much better light show. This year The Other Stage will have Bassnectar, Virtual Self, and Kaskade among many others.

The Lineup does not include Ed Helms and his Bluegrass Situation as in years past but it does show an entry simply put Grand Ole Opry. Maybe this will be an all-star and legend country program or stage. The coming weeks will tell, but no matter what it turns out to be, with a name like Grand Ole Opry it will be great for the country fans. Confirmed country artist on the lineup are Brothers Osborne, Sturgill Simpson, and Old Crow Medicine Show.

The Pop/Rock lineup will include Sheryl Crow, The Killers, Dua Lipa, Paramore, The Revivalists, and many more.

The 2018 Bonnaroo Music & Arts Festival will be held June 7-10, 2018 in Manchester, Tenn. 4-day general admission tickets are $299.50 (plus fees) and go on sale at 10 a.m. CST Friday, January 12 at www.bonnaroo.com

 Mark Jackson (@markjacksonphotography1) has covered Bonnaroo for BLURT in the past – go HERE to view his 2017 photo gallery.

 

Bonnaroo 2018 lineup

Eminem

The Killers

Muse

Future

Bassnectar

Sturgill Simpson

Bon Iver (playing 2 unique sets)

Khalid

Kaskade

Paramore

Alt-J

Dua Lipa

Sheryl Crow

Anderson .Paak & The Free Nationals

Sylvan Esso

Rebelution

The Revivalists

Virtual Self

Nile Rogers & CHIC

Rufus Du Sol

Chromeo

STS9

Alison Wonderland

Moon Taxi

Carnage

BROCKHAMPTON

Old Crow Medicine Show

Playboi Carti

The Glitch Mob

Rag‘N’Bone Man

Broken Social Scene

Superjam

Grand Ole Opry

First Aid Kit

Jungle

Tash Sultana

T-Pain

Manchester Orchestra

Brothers Osborne

Gryffin

What So Not

Rich Brian

Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue

Billie Ellish

Daniel Caesar

Kali Uchis

Kayzo

Slander

ARIZONA

St. Paul & The Broken Bones

Lany

Thundercat

Mavis Staples

Hippie Sabotage

Big Wild

Shiba San

Sir Sly

Denzel Curry

Moses Sumney

Snakehips

Tyler Childers

Mr. Carmack

Valentino Khan

Amadou & Mariam

Midland

Opiou

Japanese Breakfast

Jessie Reyez

K?D

R.LUM.R

Noura Mint Semali

Gogo Penguin

Lissie

Chris Lake

Billy Kenny b2b Mija

Durand Jones & The Indications

Space Jesus

Manic Focus

Boogie T b2b Squnto

Ikebe Shakedown

Pigeons Playing Ping Pong

Spafford

Said the Sky

Elohim

Melvv

Alex Lahey

Knox Fortune

Lewis Capaldi

Ron Gallo

Pond

Loudpvck

Conway + Westside Gunn

CloZee

Chase Atlantic

Leven Kali

Everything Everything

Frenship

Droeloe

Taska Black

Mikky Ekko

The Spencer Lee Band

Justin Jay’s Fantastic Voyage

Blank Range

Bayonne

Bruno Major

Duckwrth

The War and Treaty

Cyn

Arlie

Dreamers

Spencer Ludwig

The Brummies

Jalen N’Gonda

Jaira Burns

OkeyDokey

Zeshan B

The Regrettes

Tobi Lou

Shey Baba

Chastity Brown

Topaz Jones

Kyle Dion

The Texas Gentlemen

Michael Blume

Post Animal

Southern Avenue

Larkin Poe

Colin Elmore & The Danville Train

The Blue Stones

Michigan Rattlers

Matt Maeson

Fletcher

Matt Holubowski

Victory Boyd

Saro

FLOR

Oliver Hazard

Jade Bird

John Splithoff

Colin MacLeod

*repeat repeat

Low Cut Connie

Davie

Biyo

Walden

Hundred Handed

 

Savannah Stopover Festival Heating Up for March

By Blurt Staff

What would YOU say to a bill that included, among many bands, Of Montreal, Pylon Reenactment Society (recently reviewed at BLURT) ,  Wild Child, Larkin Poe, Sarah Shook & the Disarmers, David Barbe & Inward Dream Ebb, Ruby Velle & the Soulphonics, and—just to single out a band that hails from the BLURT editorial penthouse’s back yard of Asheville, NC—the Jon Stickley Trio?

Assuming you, like us, would say, “Huzzah!” then this post’s for you. The Savanna Stopover music festival takes place March 8-10 in Savannah (duh!), Georgia, and they’ve announced all the above artists and plenty more — with additional acts to be announced as well. Among those rumored to be in the mix: Kemba, Nikki Lane, Yonatan Gat, Lilly Hiatt, Vita and the Woolf, Grace Joyner, and Caroline Rose.

Stay tuned on January 18 for the full announcement, and here are the links you need to keep bookmarked:

Savannah Stopover official site & lineups: http://www.savannahstopover.com/

Ticket Details: http://www.savannahstopover.com/tickets/

Schedules by Day: http://www.savannahstopover.com/bands-by-day/

 

Bourbon & Beyond and Louder Than Life 2018 Dates Announced

The 2nd annual Bourbon & Beyond is set for Saturday, September 22 and Sunday, September 23, 2018. The 5th annual Louder Than Life will be held the following weekend on Saturday, September 29 and Sunday, September 30, 2018. 

 

To celebrate the success of Bourbon & Beyond’s inaugural year, Danny Wimmer Presents has announced a special Early Bird ticket sale now underway for Bourbon & Beyond 2018. A limited number of General Admission Weekend passes are available for $119.50 (matching 2017’s lowest price). To purchase tickets, visit:https://goo.gl/fg1KoW. Hotel and camping options are also available at www.BourbonAndBeyond.com

 

Held on back-to-back weekends, the first-ever Bourbon & Beyond (September 23 & 24) and the fourth annual Louder Than Life (September 30 & October 1) drew a combined 110,000 fans to Champions Park over two consecutive weekends in 2017, with a large percentage of attendees coming from outside of Louisville. 

 

“Danny Wimmer and his team promise big things, and they deliver,” says Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer. “I was especially impressed by the inaugural Bourbon & Beyond Festival, where they promised great musical acts, great food and, of course great bourbon experiences, and they excelled in every aspect. We look forward to 2018.”

 

“We look forward to the return of the Bourbon & Beyond festival after a successful inaugural year, as well as the fifth annual Louder Than Life festival. Events like these put Louisville on the national stage and enhance our city’s reputation as being an authentic music festival destination,” says Karen Williams, President & CEO of the Louisville Convention & Visitors Bureau. “Bourbon & Beyond and Louder Than Life both draw a large number of out-of-town visitors to our city to enjoy a weekend of music by top, national performers, and also experience Louisville’s one-of-a-kind attractions and award-winning culinary scene.”

 

“The inaugural Bourbon & Beyond was a first-of-its-kind festival that gave Kentucky’s world-renowned bourbons equal billing with a roster of legendary musicians,” says Danny Hayes, CEO of Danny Wimmer Presents. 

 

Bourbon & Beyond artists included Rock and Roll Hall of Famers Stevie Nicks, Steve Miller Band, Eddie Vedder, and Buddy Guy, plus Amos Lee, Joe Bonamassa, Gary Clark, Jr., Paul Rodgers, Band Of Horses, and more.

 

Hayes continues, “Bourbon & Beyond was a showcase for, and celebration of, the craftsmanship, soul and sprit that is unique to Louisville, and featured award winning bourbons, master distillers, chefs, bartenders, and many other artisans.”

 

Check out the video recap highlighting Bourbon & Beyond 2017 here: http://bit.ly/BnBvideo

 

Full Bourbon & Beyond details and additional ticket packages will be announced in early 2018. 

 

The fourth annual Louder Than Life marked the festival’s biggest year yet, solidifying its standing as one of America’s premier destination music festivals. Louder Than Life2017 drew 60,000 fans to Champions Park to witness headlining performances from Ozzy Osbourne featuring Zakk Wylde on Saturday and Prophets Of Rage on Sunday, plus Five Finger Death Punch, Incubus – returning to Louisville for the first time in over a decade — Rob Zombie, Stone Sour, Rise Against, and nearly 30 other bands on three stages. 

 

To see the Louder Than Life video recap, go to:  

www.facebook.com/louderthanlifefestival/videos/1325054730955468/

 

Louder Than Life announce details and ticket information will be provided in late spring 2018. Visit www.LouderThanLifeFestival.com for details.

 

Danny Wimmer Presents is a producer of some of the biggest rock festivals in America, including Rock On The Range, Monster Energy Aftershock, Monster Energy Welcome To Rockville, Monster Energy Fort Rock, Monster Energy Carolina Rebellion, Chicago Open Air, Bourbon & Beyond, Louder Than Life, Monster Energy Rock Allegiance, Northern Invasion and more.

 

For more information, visit:

 

www.DannyWimmerPresents.com

www.BourbonAndBeyond.com

www.LouderThanLifeFestival.com

Louder Than Life Festival 2017, Louisville KY

Dates: September 30 - October 1, 2017

Location: Champions Park, Louisville KY

The 2017 event took place September 30-Oct. 1 at Champions Park. Among the performers: Ozzy Osbourne with Zakk Wylde & Prophets Of Rage, plus Five Finger Death Punch, Incubus, Rob Zombie, Stone Sour.

BY MARK JACKSON

This year’s Louder than Life Festival was the biggest one so far in the four years of the event with over sixty thousand people in attendance over the two day event.  It’s no wonder that with the perfect weather and a killer line up that the turn out was amazing and had people lining up hours before the gates even opened. It was crazy to see so many people rushing through the gates and running full speed to get their spot front and center to the stages. The line up this year included Sets from Ozzy Osbourne with Zakk Wylde & Prophets Of Rage, plus Five Finger Death Punch, Incubus, Rob Zombie, Stone Sour & more. If the line up wasn’t enough there was also Bourbon World with dozens of different bourbons to choose from and over a dozen of local venders with a Varity of large portions of food choices. This was the third year that Blurt has covered this festival and I must give a huge shout out to the Danny Wimmer Presents staff! This is one of if not smoothest events that I cover. Kristine and her staff is top notch and very helpful to all attending press. I can’t wait to see what all that Louder than Life brings next year! If you want to be a part of next years’ party, you should start planning now and buy your tickets early before they sell out.

Here are just some of the fun times we had at the festival: www.facebook.com/louderthanlifefestival/videos/1325054730955468/

Mark Jackson: #markjacksonphotography1

***

Five Finger Death Punch

 

Eagles of Death Metal

 

Falling In Reverse

 

Grant Through Fire

 

Greta Van Fleet

 

Halestorm

 

Hollywood Undead

 

In This Moment

 

Incubus

 

New Years Day

 

Nothing More

 

Prophets of Rage’

 

Rise Against

 

Rob Zombie

 

Sleeping With Sirens

 

Starset

 

Steel Panther

 

Stone Sour

 

Through Fire

Cropped Out Festival 9/22-23/17, Louisville

Dates: September 22 & 23, 2017

Location: American Turners Club, Louisville KY

Two very fine days at the American Turners Club, deep in the heart of Kentucky rock territory.

BY TIM HINELY

I’d heard about this champion of the obscure music festival in Louisville, KY for the past few years but hadn’t gotten off my duff to make it there. This year was different as I saw that both The Fall and feedtime were on the bill so I had to make it. I phoned my pal in Lexington, KY and told we that we’re going…oh and that I am staying with him for a few days. He couldn’t refuse.

The American Turners Club is a…well, an interesting place to say the least. It’s an active swim club that closes just after Labor Day but if you saw this place you’d swear it wasn’t active. In fact, you’d think it had been closed years ago. Plenty of green water in the pool and the trough in the men’s bathroom looked liked it hadn’t been flushed in a few decades. Oh and turn around while the the urinal and the showers behind you look like something out of Auschwitz. In other words, a perfect place for a music festival!

It’s right on the banks of the Ohio River and plenty of room for camping (I hate camping though). So yes, freaks of all shapes and sizes made their way to Louisville to witness this historic event.

….only it wasn’t so historic as The Fall cancelled (damn) but they got local yokel Bonnie Prince Billy in his place.

***

Friday 9/22/17

On Friday we arrived about 3 PM. We missed a few openers like Exacta Cube, Heavy Dreams and Bathroom Laws but we did catch the duo Lung. A drummer and a woman who played, I think, an electric cello. An interesting sound and very cool and just afterward both Wombo and Limes got the crowd worked up into a heaving frenzy.

We caught NYC’s 75 Dollar Bill who I’d been wanting to see and they did not disaappoint. This time they were a drummer (Rick Brown from Run On and Fish & Roses) and a guitarist and they eeked out a most beautiful racket. If I’m recalling correctly The Cowboys, who were up next, spanked out some primo punk rock while North Carolina (via the UK) Dan Melchior did a nice set of garage blues. He’s the real deal.

Not sure if we caught Crazy Doberman, but we did catch Columbus, Ohio’s Tommy Jay who with his band in matching outfits, did a nice set of folk pop originals. I need to look for more of his stuff and legendary Louisville bunch Circle X had the crowd rapt with their unique brand of jagged art pop. As much as I wanted to stay for Neil Hamburger and Royal Trux (who I heard weren’t so hot) my pal and I decaded to make the hour trek back to Lexington.

***

Saturday 9/23/17

After a hearty breakfast (Waffle House did us right…until it did us wrong…thank god for nearby bathrooms) we headed back to Louisville for more fun and frivolity. We got there just in time to catch Oakland’s Rays. I love their recent debut LP out now on Trouble in Mind but had yet to see ‘em live and they did not disappoint. Gorgeous, melodic fuzz of the highest caliber.

Fried Egg ripped a hole in the wall, musically speaking, while Matt Jencik’s jeans fell down but the crowd was way, way up. Sarah Squirm was an annoying comedian from NYC who was actually kinda funny  and I forget what David Nance sounded like. Tara Jane O’Neil had a plethora of famous folks join her on stage (Thalia Zedek, Catherine Irwin, Tim Barnes, etc) and eeked out a gorgeous, folky set.  Rapper Sadat X was awful, all flash and no dash and the shirtless, bearded Frank Hurricane was even worse. Please do no invite these two back.

Shit & Shine started out promisingly with some crinkly experimental konk but bored me after about 15 minutes and Peter Brotzmann threw his sax into the Ohio River and dove in after it after finishing his set.  Australia’s feedtime, basically who I was most excited to see, did not disappoint and they roared through a 40 or so minute set or grunting, basement scorch (with a borrowed drummer no less…and they weren’t in a basement). Being the old geezers that we are my pal and I left before Bonnie “Prince” Billy and Magik Markers played.

What can I say, Cropped Out was a blast. Good food, nice, short sets and easy-going (zonked out?) people everywhere. Easily the most laid back festival I’ve ever gone to and I’ma make it a point to come back next year come hell or high water.

 

Austin City Limits Music Festival 2017 (Weekend 1)

October 6, 7 & 8 for the first of two weekends, held as usual at Zilker Park. Pictured above: Pumarosa.

TEXT & PHOTOS BY SADIE CLAIRE

Austin City Limits Music Festival debuted a lot of new things this year: new layout, new security, new foods, new drinks, new ticket levels, etc. Some worked great, some didn’t. But it was nice to see all of the changes. Best of which being the new layout.

The park now has so much more breathing room and attendees can actually enjoy the music at a crowded stage without the interference of the other nearby stages. And even though the lineup this year wasn’t the best in ACL history, there were some really great shows over the weekend.

FRIDAY:

The Wild Now – Cute and poppy.

ROMES – Trying too hard to be sexy.

The Band of Heathens – An Austin classic!

MISSIO – So much energy and enthusiasm, with a lot of Justin Timberlake vibes from lead singer.

The Lemon Twigs – Drummer was the most captivating of them all.

Crystal Castles – Trying too hard to be scary weird. Die Antwoord has that category covered.

Royal Blood – A solid rock’n’roll show!

Ryan Adams – As always, he delivered a solid performance. The unique thing about this show was that he had an announcer come out before he came on stage and asked the crowd to not use any flash, as Ryan suffers from Ménière’s disease. That started the show off on a pretty serious note. Things got more serious when Ryan confronted a fan who was recording the show and sounded like he had his flash on. Ryan cursed out the fan and told him we will all validate his presence here at the show so he doesn’t need that video to post online. He kept the stage almost completely dark for the entire show as well.

JAY-Z – He only played an hour, took a 20-minute break, came back for a single song encore, and left. Everyone seemed very confused, including other artists in the crowd.

 

SATURDAY:

Mobley – Mobley was the best surprise of the festival. Despite his opening time slot, he put on a great show with Headliner enthusiasm.

CAPYAC – Part of their act was making pancakes on stage and throwing them at the crowd. It worked. They got me to stay longer than I would’ve otherwise.

Ásgeir – A less poetic Bon Iver.

Grace VanderWaal – Mini Taylor Swift with a giant voice. As a 13-year-old, she had more stage presence than most adult artists out there.

A$AP Ferg – He got the crowd going with his beats but it seemed like 2pm might have been too early of a time slot for him, as he paced the stage like he was still trying to wake up.

LĪVE – Simply amazing. They rocked the stage like 20-year-olds, not like a band that’s been together for over 3 decades. So much energy, enthusiasm, love for their art, and appreciation for the fans.

ICE CUBE – He was hardcore until he asked the crowd if they’ve seen his hit movie Straight Outta Compton and if they wanted “gangster”. He, then, proceeded with “let’s give them gangster.” Sadly, none of which felt remotely authentic or gangster.

Red Hot Chili Peppers – Chili Peppers were once a great band but now they seem to be just bored. Every show in the past several years have been the exactly replica of each other. Very little crowd interaction, heavily filtered Jumbotron footage, same quick transitions between songs.

 

SUNDAY:

Bibi Bourelly – Perhaps most famous for writing the Rhianna song “Bitch Better Have My Money,” Bibi’s performance of her own material proved to be authentic and raw.

Raging Fyah – Energetic, enthusiastic and a lot of fun!

Milky Chance – Somehow, Milky Chance managed to sing all of their songs in the same exact way in the same exact tone…again. It’s very difficult to even tell where one song ends and the other begins with them. Snooze fest.

Run The Jewels – Simply kicked ass.

Vance Joy – Great, fun show.

Portugal. The Man – They kept the stage almost completely dark the entire show. The sign at the beginning of the show stated that they will not be engaging with the audience during the show, and they did keep their promise by systematically running through all of their songs.

Gorillaz – They put on a big production but it didn’t seem like there was much heart there. Still a pretty good show, though!

***

Austin City Limits Music Festival 2017 (Weekend 1)

Dates: October 6-8, 2017

Location: Zilker Park, Austin TX

October 6, 7 & 8 for the first of two weekends, held as usual at Zilker Park. Pictured above: Pumarosa.

TEXT & PHOTOS BY SADIE CLAIRE

Austin City Limits Music Festival debuted a lot of new things this year: new layout, new security, new foods, new drinks, new ticket levels, etc. Some worked great, some didn’t. But it was nice to see all of the changes. Best of which being the new layout.

The park now has so much more breathing room and attendees can actually enjoy the music at a crowded stage without the interference of the other nearby stages. And even though the lineup this year wasn’t the best in ACL history, there were some really great shows over the weekend.

FRIDAY:

The Wild Now – Cute and poppy.

ROMES – Trying too hard to be sexy.

The Band of Heathens – An Austin classic!

MISSIO – So much energy and enthusiasm, with a lot of Justin Timberlake vibes from lead singer.

The Lemon Twigs – Drummer was the most captivating of them all.

Crystal Castles – Trying too hard to be scary weird. Die Antwoord has that category covered.

Royal Blood – A solid rock’n’roll show!

Ryan Adams – As always, he delivered a solid performance. The unique thing about this show was that he had an announcer come out before he came on stage and asked the crowd to not use any flash, as Ryan suffers from Ménière’s disease. That started the show off on a pretty serious note. Things got more serious when Ryan confronted a fan who was recording the show and sounded like he had his flash on. Ryan cursed out the fan and told him we will all validate his presence here at the show so he doesn’t need that video to post online. He kept the stage almost completely dark for the entire show as well.

JAY-Z – He only played an hour, took a 20-minute break, came back for a single song encore, and left. Everyone seemed very confused, including other artists in the crowd.

 

SATURDAY:

Mobley – Mobley was the best surprise of the festival. Despite his opening time slot, he put on a great show with Headliner enthusiasm.

CAPYAC – Part of their act was making pancakes on stage and throwing them at the crowd. It worked. They got me to stay longer than I would’ve otherwise.

Ásgeir – A less poetic Bon Iver.

Grace VanderWaal – Mini Taylor Swift with a giant voice. As a 13-year-old, she had more stage presence than most adult artists out there.

A$AP Ferg – He got the crowd going with his beats but it seemed like 2pm might have been too early of a time slot for him, as he paced the stage like he was still trying to wake up.

LĪVE – Simply amazing. They rocked the stage like 20-year-olds, not like a band that’s been together for over 3 decades. So much energy, enthusiasm, love for their art, and appreciation for the fans.

ICE CUBE – He was hardcore until he asked the crowd if they’ve seen his hit movie Straight Outta Compton and if they wanted “gangster”. He, then, proceeded with “let’s give them gangster.” Sadly, none of which felt remotely authentic or gangster.

Red Hot Chili Peppers – Chili Peppers were once a great band but now they seem to be just bored. Every show in the past several years have been the exactly replica of each other. Very little crowd interaction, heavily filtered Jumbotron footage, same quick transitions between songs.

 

SUNDAY:

Bibi Bourelly – Perhaps most famous for writing the Rhianna song “Bitch Better Have My Money,” Bibi’s performance of her own material proved to be authentic and raw.

Raging Fyah – Energetic, enthusiastic and a lot of fun!

Milky Chance – Somehow, Milky Chance managed to sing all of their songs in the same exact way in the same exact tone…again. It’s very difficult to even tell where one song ends and the other begins with them. Snooze fest.

Run The Jewels – Simply kicked ass.

Vance Joy – Great, fun show.

Portugal. The Man – They kept the stage almost completely dark the entire show. The sign at the beginning of the show stated that they will not be engaging with the audience during the show, and they did keep their promise by systematically running through all of their songs.

Gorillaz – They put on a big production but it didn’t seem like there was much heart there. Still a pretty good show, though!

***

2017 Americana Music Festival & Conference 9/12 – 9/17, Nashville

“Now that’s Americana!” This year’s festival and conference offers more to adore. View a photo gallery following the text.

BY LEE ZIMMERMAN / PHOTOS BY ALISA B. CHERRY

If the Americana Festival and Conference proves anything, it’s that anything and everything born of genuine roots can be classified as Americana. It doesn’t matter whether it originates from the heartland, the swamps of the south, the outer reaches of California, the mountains of Appalachia, or as far afield as the Australian outback and the urban and rural expanses of the U.K. A showcase for literally hundreds of acts, each competing for attention in more than three dozen venues, various onsite events, as well as assorted record shops, restaurants and boutiques, it challenges attendees to figure out how to place themselves in several locations at the same time, a daunting proposition given the fact that music occurs simultaneously and decisions must be made.

Not surprisingly then, the Americana Music Festival is ideal for those with quick attention spans, eagerness and impatience. For all others, it takes planning, sound strategy, dexterity and a willingness to make the most of five days filled with ongoing entertainment. In exchange, it offers the opportunity to see both icons and artists of international stature, a diverse contingent that this year alone included Van Morrison, Graham Nash, Jason Isbell, Emmylou Harris, The Blind Boys of Alabama, John Prine, Robert Cray, Kasey Chambers, Colin Hay, Robyn Hitchcock, Shelby Lynne, Allison Moorer, Jon Langford, and Lee Ann Womack, to name but a scant few.

It’s a large and durable umbrella, this thing they call Americana, and summing it up succinctly is an impossible feat even for those with broad imaginations. As artist and compere Jim Lauderdale is fond of saying, “Now that’s Americana!”

While every day and evening boasts highlights of every description, the awards presentation on the second night of the fest is one of the most prestigious music ceremonies one might ever witness. Simply put, it rivals anything the Grammys have to offer, at least as far as coolness is concerned. Where else can you catch Graham Nash harmonizing with the Milk Carton Kids on an old Every Brothers chestnut or John Prine doling out honors to an emotional Iris Dement and before joining her for a duet? With a house band led and directed by the great Buddy Miller — absent this year but ably subbed for by the equally prolific Larry Campbell — there are stars galore crowding the legendary Ryman stage.

That said, the Americana Festival does not differentiate between artist and enthusiast. Hanging out at an event like the Compass Records annual open house or spending the evening enjoying a live broadcast of the syndicated show Music City Roots at the Yee-Haw tent practically guarantees you’ll run into someone of renown. We found that to be true even on arrival, courtesy of a luncheon with John Oates, who was as amicable as anyone can be while promoting a new project. Likewise, there’s little in the way of barriers between back stage and front, and during our stay, we had opportunity to chat with Ray Wylie Hubbard, Kasey Chambers, Colin Hay, Willie Nile, Jonathan Byrd, and Cody Dickinson of the North Mississippi Allstars. Everyone is especially gracious in these relaxed environs, allowing for especially cool connections.

Aside from the idols, the festival provides a great opportunity to catch artists on the way up. We were fortunate enough to see the young Aussie duo Falls, whose sweet harmonies and bewitching melodies prove nothing less than utterly enticing. Two young Americans from Austin Texas, Max Gomez and David Ramirez, were equally worthy of attention, two strong singer songwriters with an authority and presence that extends far beyond their relatively modest ages. Three rockier ensembles, Deer Tick, Band of Heathens and Reckless Kelly literally shook the rafters in their own individual performances, while Matthew Ryan, normally calm and composed on record, showed he could also rock with a ferocity that had the crowd taking notice. There were numerous others as well — The Wild Ponies, a husband wide duo that served up superb songs from their new Galax, the amazingly talented songstress Becky Warren and extraordinarily entertaining Jonathan Byrd and the Pickup Cowboy, an ever-exuberant Korby Lenker, and a superb Scotsman Dean Owens, all of whom proved themselves well worthy of recognition. Those on an exploratory mission will always find ample rewards.

Indeed, then it comes to rising stars, the English and the Aussies are especially well represented. Each contingent host showcases that are consistent must-sees. The Bootleg BBQ in particular, held on the back lawn of The Groove record store, becomes one of the best attended events of the festival. Sponsored by the British Underground, it’s an outstanding opportunity to spotlight some of Britain’s most dynamic up and coming artists within the umbrella of international Americana. This year, the dynamic and irrepressible Yola Carter, sisterly trio Wildwood Kin and the charismatic Danni Nicholls were among those that wowed the crowd, with special guests Angaleena Presley ensuring the connection between the U.K. and the U.S.A. remains as unbreakable a bond as always. There were also star sightings — with Jim Lauderdale checking out the action and Indigo Girl Amy Ray braving the heat and obviously enjoying the entire afternoon. And the barbecue ain’t bad either.

While entertainment is a priority for most, it ought to be noted that Festival and Conference also offers educational opportunities. The Country Music Hall of Fame provides an ongoing series of themed exhibits that trace the music’s evolution from past to present, and during the festival, there are special gatherings well worth attending. Two in particular were an intimate discussion and acoustic performance from Allison Moorer and her sister Shelby Lynne, who were celebrating the release of their first collaborative effort, and a program devoted to Southern Roots, specifically, a salute to the legacy of the late Gregg Allman and his band of brothers.

When all is said and done, the Americana Fest is most appreciated as an opportunity to immerse oneself in the best the genre has to offer. It offers a chance to stay ahead of the curve, to be a part of a musical movement that’s making its impact worldwide. Ultimately, it’s a community, one that provides opportunity to make new friends, reconnect with old friends and share in the celebration of sound with immense populist appeal.

Indeed, as Mr. Lauderdale sums it up so succinctly, “Now that’s Americana!”

***

Marty Stuart getting the Duo/Group of the Year Award at  The 16th Annual AmericanaFest Awards Show at the Ryman Auditorium on 9/13/17

Webb Wilder at NPR Music Live from the YeeHaw Tent on 9/15/17

Lindi Ortega at The Bootleg BBQ at The Groove, Nashville on 9/16/17

Yola Carter at The Bootleg BBQ at The Groove, Nashville on 9/16/17

Jonathan Byrd and the Pickup Cowboy at The Station Inn, Nashville on 9/15/17

Angaleena Presley at The Bootleg BBQ at The Groove, Nashville on 9/16/17

The Falls from Australia at SoulShine Pizza Factory, Nashville 9/16/17

A.J Croce at Compass Records 9/13/17

Sam Outlaw at Mercy Lounge, Nashville 9/13/17

Harrow Fair at Outlaws and Gunslingers Luncheon at the American Legion Post 82, Nashville 9/14/17

Jim Lauderdale at The Music City Roots at the YeeHaw Tent, Nashville 9/14/17

Ray Wylie Hubbard at NPR Music Live from the YeeHaw Tent 9/15/17

Taasha Coates at A Taste of Australia at the Filming Station, 9/15/17

Kasey Chambers at A Taste of Australia at the Filming Station 9/15/17

Poco’s Rusty Young at the Filming Station, Nashville 9/15/17

 

Colin Hay At City Winery, Nashville 9/12/17

John Oates & Lee Ann Womack at AmericanaFest Awards Show at the Ryman Auditorium 9/13/17

Winning the Emerging Artist of the Year Award – Amanda Shires @AmericanaFest Awards Show at the Ryman Auditorium 9/13/17

Graham Nash and The Milk Carton Boys at AmericanaFest Awards Show at the Ryman Auditorium 9/13/17

Jason Isbell and Amanda Shires performing at AmericanaFest Awards Show at the Ryman Auditorium 9/13/17

Emmylou Harris at AmericanaFest Awards Show at the Ryman Auditorium 9/13/17

Lukas Nelson at Cannery Ballroom, Nashville 9/13/17

Whitney Rose at Outlaws and Gunslingers Luncheon at the American Legion Post 82 9/14/17

 

 

 

 

 

Riot Fest 9/15-16-17/17, Chicago

Dates: September 15, 16 & 17, 2017

Location: Douglas Park, Chicago IL

The scene of the 3-day crime was Douglas Park, and Detective Bruce was on the crime scene immediately to document the bloodshed. (Go HERE to check out more of her photos.) They may still be cleaning up the mosh pit area….

 

TEXT & PHOTOS BY ERICA BRUCE

Another September, another excellent Riot Fest ran this past Friday to Sunday in Chicago. Under sunny (but at times really, really hot) skies, crowds took over Douglass Park, raring to get its rock on. A number of bands played seminal records in full like Dinosaur Jr (You’re Living All Over Me), Mighty Mighty Bosstones (Let’s Face It), Wu-Tang Clan (Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)), among others. But the big, special, super cool, and awesome highlight was what Riot Fest always seems to do best, and that’s to get a seminal band to reunite and close out the weekend. This year, it was Jawbreaker. One of the best summations of the show was by music critic Dan Ozzi who tweeted, “People tweeting about the Emmys like Jawbreaker didn’t just put a hole in the fuckin earth.”

 Here’s a bit about what we saw at Riot Fest 2017:

Day 1

American Airlines lost part of my luggage, so much of the day on Friday was spent waiting for its return then, recreating my bag at CVS when it failed to show. (FYI: CVS in Chicago sells liquor and wine, who knew!) As such, we only got a couple acts in for Day 1, but boy, were they mighty.

Ministry

“Hey Chicago, nice to be home,” said Ministry frontman Al Jourgensen, who grew up there. It was kind of surreal seeing a band like Ministry play any other time but the dead of night somewhere, but the heaviness and political commentary that Jourgensen is known for was out in full force. I found myself wondering if he has a bear of a time going through security scanners at the airport (LOTS of piercings).

New Order

The crowd for New Order was delighted that the band filled half of its 11-song set with the popular stuff like “Bizarre Love Triangle,” and songs from popular records like Power, Corruption, and Lies and Substance 1987. Lead singer Bernard Sumner’s voice is still strong, a lulling force atop the electronic lullabies for which the band is famous. They didn’t play it all safe though, pulling out “Ultraviolence,” a song Sumner said they hadn’t played in a long time, in spite of it having to be stopped and restarted to adjust guitarist Phil Cunningham’s guitar. Bathed in blue light with photos of what looked like Manchester showing behind them, Sumner also gave a nod to his old band, Joy Division, at the start and end of the set, with “Disorder” and then “Love Will Tear Us Apart.” I’m sure the young 20-something I saw bawling during the latter was not the only one in the crowd doing so.

Nine Inch Nails

NIN was the headliner for night one, and lead man Trent Reznor made sure it was dramatic throughout. From a kicked over keyboard over at the end of the first song (“Branches/Bones”), to the live debut of “The Backward World,” to “The Day the World Went Away” played for the first time in four years, Reznor and the band filled all of Douglass Park with keyboard and bass sounds. He even included a unique cover, David Bowie’s “I Can’t Give Everything Away” from Blackstar. It was all as loud and lovely and bombastic a set as you could want.

 

Day 2:

Probably the highest in high energy of all three days, it was full of punk, funk, and dancing gypsies.

Fishbone

Seeing Fishbone live is a better kick to the nervous system than three cups of coffee and 38 Red Bulls combined, so why wouldn’t one kick off Day 2 with something so awesome? Their combination of punk, funk, and soul has long been copied, but nothing can ever touch the original that is the mighty Fishbone.

Peaches

I’ve never been much for electronica music but Peaches is so much more than just that; she’s part performance art, part DJ, plus, she can sing her ass off. Her “big fat vagina” as she called it, was the celebrated part of her set, from her head piece, to her backup dancer costumes, to her bodysuit adorned with pink fuzz in the correct spot. But it was obvious that women and men alike love Peaches-at one point, she walked atop the crowd’s hands like Jesus walking on water, without dropping a note. With songs like “Boys Wanna Be Her,” “Dick in the Air, and “Fuck the Pain Away,” it struck me that Peaches is to women what the music of the Afghan Whigs is to dudes-affirming, powerful, and sexy as all get out.

FIDLAR

It’s been a few years since FIDLAR released a record, but, like all good things, time has only proven how much their straight-ahead punk rock sound has been missed. Always joyous and raucous live, Saturday afternoon’s set was fast, loud, and animated. Lead singer Zac Carper looks healthy and sounds great, and made the large Riot stage area as intimate as a little LA club. “Wake, Bake, Skate” live is still a blast to hear.

Bad Brains

If anyone proves the power of “having that PMA,” for 40 years, it’s the Bad Brains. Given the recent health scares of lead singer H.R. (brain surgery in Feb) and guitarist Dr. Know (cardiac arrest in 2015), D.C.ers like myself were more than a little concerned that the sun had set on one of our most cherished local bands. But their show on Saturday proved all was well, in spite of less than stellar stage sound. A young second guitarist, apparently, the grandson of musician Richie Havens, played lead with Dr. Know throughout the set, and Lamb of God singer Randy Blythe joined the band at the end for “Big Takeover,” “The Regulator,” and “Redbone in the City.”

Mike D (DJ set)

Mike D used his set to give Chicago a little musical geography lesson about NYC, rapping and talking as his DJ spun the originals of artists from each borough. He started with his hometown of Manhattan using the Beastie Boys “Sabotage.” Queens was represented by Run DMC, to which he said, “”We couldn’t have done what we did without this next band from Hollis, Queens, Run DMC. RIP Mr. Jam Master.” Brooklyn got the biggest cheers though with Jay Z’s “99 Problems” and the Beastie’s “No Sleep Till Brooklyn,” home of another Beastie Boy, MCA.

Gogol Bordello

Going from NYC rap to Ukrainian gypsy punk by way of NYC in the form of Gogol Bordello as the sun was setting was slightly surreal and perfect. The dancing onstage and off was so frenzied, I half expected to someone to spontaneously combust at some point. With members and influences from all over the world, Gogol Bordello remains the craziest live show in town.

At the Drive In

No less powerful was At the Drive In. Lead singer Cedric Bixler jumped off the drum set and threw his body about the Roots stage so hard, you know bruises the next day were eminent. The majority of the set came from Relationship of Command rather than the new record, in*ter a*li*a, and, if you’re wondering, Bixler’s voice seems to be back and in stellar form.

QOTSA

The bluesy, swampy rock that is Queens of the Stone Age was hard-driving and perfect way to cap off Day 2. Lead singer Josh Homme rocked, and rolled, and even gave the audience a rendition of Danzig’s “Mother” which was frankly, better than the original.

 

Day 3:

A little less punk, a little more post punk pogo!

 

Beach Slang

The things we learned about Beach Slang lead singer James Alex in their 12:40 PM set that kicked off Day 3:

-He’d been drinking since early that day

-He does better with straws (in a drink)

-No guitar can hold him

-He somehow doesn’t pass out wearing a buttoned-up tuxedo shirt and a corduroy jacket in direct 86 degree sunlight

-He knows how to play a cover that will win your heart (“Girl Who Lives on Heaven Hill” by Grant Hart)

Hot Water Music

Lead singer Chuck Ragan’s voice is one of those that as soon as you hear it, you know who it is. You had to smile as that sandpaper scrubbed growl bounced off the Ferris wheel and hit you back again.

Mighty Bosstones (Performing Let’s Face It)

Ska music never really goes out of style, it just merges with other styles to take on a different form. 90s ska was infused with a bit more post punk than before, and a major force of that was the Mighty Mighty Bosstones. Celebrating the 20th anniversary of Let’s Face It, lead singer Dicky Barrett and company brought the plaid, the killer horns, those great songs, and of course, their great stage dancing guy, Ben Carr, to get a whole new generation skanking to the Bosstones beat.

Minus the Bear

Minus the Bear? Minus the energy. Songs? Good. Stage presence? So so. Energy level? Zzzzz

GWAR (candids in the press area)

The minute GWAR walked into the press area in costume, they were surrounded by everyone and their cell phones requesting to take a photo (including TV on the Radio lead singer Tunde” Adebimpe, which was a wonderfully random  dichotomy). It got so that their handler had to ask that people stop so that they could actually attend their interviews. Once completed though, the band did hang out for a bit and posed for every last person who asked.

Built to Spill

Another band performing an anniversary record was Built to Spill, doing their fourth record, Keep it Like a Secret. They didn’t say much from the stage, but this post-punk version of a jam band didn’t have to; from the first incredible hooks of vocalist/guitarist Dough Martsch in “The Plan” to the ethereal trippiness of “Broken Chairs” was all you needed. Their performance made me fall in love all over again.

TVOTR

I’ve photographed TV on the Radio quite a few times since 2008, and I can honestly say that I’ve never seen them as energetic as Sunday’s set. (Seriously: Even the notoriously stationary guitarist Kyp Malone was pogoing about at times.) Lead singer Tunde Adebimpe jumped around and swayed so much it was like he was trying to exorcise any nearby demons straight into the ether. And, based on the scorching version of “Wolf Like Me” which closed the set, I’d say the exorcism was a total success.

Prophets of Rage

Tom Morello once told Rolling Stone about Prophets of Rage,  “We’re an elite task force of revolutionary musicians determined to confront this mountain of election year bullshit, and confront it head-on with Marshall stacks blazing.” And he wasn’t kidding. The sound was so intense coming off the Roots stage during their set  that even J. Mascis would have been jealous. Playing tracks by the collective bands that are represented in Prophets of Rage-Rage Against the Machine, Audioslave, Public Enemy, and Cypress Hill-had the capacity crowd pogoing in unison like they were at Glastonbury. The audience was so frenzied and so loud, especially during the “Fuck no, I won’t do what they tell me” chorus in the set ending “Killing in the Name” by Rage Against the Machine, I was certain that aliens on Mars were asking each other, “What the hell is that sound?” Make America Rage Again indeed.

Jawbreaker

Probably the first sign of how big a deal this Jawbreaker reunion was to people was seeing the sides of the Riot Stage prior to the set, all so packed with people standing to watch the show, it almost seemed dangerous. But this was a reunion few expected to happen. In front of a giant “Jawbreaker” curtain, the trio slammed into 15 tracks that sounded just as fresh today as they did 20-plus years ago, including  five that were last performed live between 1995 and 1996 (“Want,” Million,” “Parabola, “Kiss the Bottle,” and “Bivouac”). Much like at The Replacements show a few years ago, I ran out of fingers and toes counting the sheer number of bands playing today whose sound was obviously influenced by Jawbreaker. And the band seemed genuinely awed by the reception and thanked Riot Fest for making the reunion happen.”We are honored and humbled to be in your city. Dance and be nice,” said Jawbreaker lead singer Blake Schwarzenbach.

 

Boy, did that park dance.

 

Erica Bruce’s contact info and gallery of Riot Fest can be viewed HERE.