The vibration endures. Since 1994, Austinites of all ilks have overlapped their quilts on the lakeside lawn and passed pipes to a soundtrack of reggae, ska, dub, and dancehall. The party keeps the poor’s “belly full” with a typically six-figure contribution to the Central Texas Food Bank. For their sake, pray for blue skies and green grass.
Inclement weather previously nixed two golden headliners: dub mysterio Lee “Scratch” Perry in 2015 and Bunny Wailer, sole survivor of the genre’s greatest triptych (R.I.P. Marley and Tosh), last year. In 2017, booker Angela Tharp, who owns local reggae HQ Flamingo Cantina, largely skips grandfatherly Rastas for a lineup of emerging acts and Reggae Fest newcomers.
A strong Saturday lineup heats up with a homegrown undercard, including River City All Stars, Don Chani, and Micah Shalom & the Babylonians, before the sun sets on Seventies UK reggae standouts Black Slate (6:30pm), whose street-level classics “Sticks Man” and “Amigo” still spin potent. Meanwhile, Jesse Royal (8:30pm) signals Reggae Fest tapping into the future. A dynamic singer and powerful lyricist with clubworthy production and classic influences, Royal’s among the genre’s highest-grade contemporary offerings.
– Kevin Curtin
Outlandish personality matching his oversize frame, Bigg Robb delivers Jerri Curl Muzic, a sexy brand of funked-up R&B tailor-made for grown folks to bump and grind. The prolific Cincinnati native was mentored by Bootsy Collins and Roger Troutman, cribbing fashion tips from the former and synth love from the latter, and spent 25 years with electro-funk pioneers Zapp before launching solo. The “best looking fat man in show business” sizzles the home of the blues “Hotter Than Fish Grease.”– Thomas Fawcett
Rainey Street staple rings in its wood year with two nights of free music, live screenprinting, and hot dogs for all. Deep East Texas troubadour Jonathan Terrell shakes cobwebs from the rafters with his slam-bang rock combo Not in the Face on Friday. Soulful alt.country collective Harvest Thieves add fleshed-out sound and wit to the bill. Saturday pairs party-down acrobatics from Sounds del Mar with the Seventies-flavored funk/soul from one-man machine Henry + the Invisibles.– Greg Beets
Trading pews for pints, Front Porch’s pub-based church format observes Easter without waking up early on Sunday. Holy Week’s culmination starts promptly at sundown with a liturgy developed by Rev. Dr. Stephen Kinney from All Saints’ Episcopal Church. A diverse array of musical guests including Shinyribs principal Kevin Russell, deeply expressive songwriter Sam Baker, and Body Rock ATX party starters Riders Against the Storm augment the word.– Greg Beets
Local nonprofit Beyond the Grade unites working musicians with AISD students learning the ropes of rock & roll. Student-led bands dot Saturday’s fundraiser at Threadgill’s, headlined by Tasty Face, a new venture pairing swamp-funk maestro Papa Mali, Indy singer Queen Delphine, and Fishbone leader Angelo Moore on vocals, saxophone, and theremin. They continue around the corner at C-Boy’s for a late set.– Thomas Fawcett
Headbanger’s delight, TIF has never broken out like Austin’s other festivals. That will change this year with Anthrax as headliner. Riding the wave of last year’s quasi-comeback For All Kings, New Yawk’s finest still out-thrash bands half their age. New Englanders Killswitch Engage also bring heavyweight firepower, via the melodic metalcore of 2016 LP Incarnate. Devil Wears Prada; Oh, Sleeper; Fire From the Gods, and more add mayhem.– Michael Toland