This morning Utopia Fest rolled out the lineup for its ninth iteration, tapping Creole-seasoned king of New Orleans Dr. John to haul his grand piano down to the gorgeously remote site some 119 miles south of Austin. Also resonating in the lush valley Sept. 22-24 is jammy funk syndicate Lettuce and Fela Kuti acolytes Antibalas.
The idyllic music festival – forged on the principles of no overlapping music, free camping, a capped attendance of 2,000, and BYO booze and food – also welcomes neo-folk Canadian eclectics Barr Brothers, Rocky Mountain Americana fivepiece Elephant Revival, and leader of bygone locals Hairy Apes BMX, colorful vibraphone master Mike Dillon, who dazzled Emo’s recently hammering away in the Dean Ween Group. Returning favorites Les Hay Babies, a charming French-Canadian folk act, serve as the perfect complement to another international all-female trio: Swedish alt-roots sisters Baskery, a young group hallmarked by haunting harmonies. Also on the docket: Voodoo Boogaloo, Spivey, Sid Fly, San Antonio Pipes & Drums, and the Utopia Players.
As always, the event, organized by Utopia-raised Austin resident Travis Sutherland, pulls heavily from the capital city’s musical masses. Two regulars, transcendental folk dreamers the Deer and roots rockers the Wheeler Brothers, lead a cadre of local artists including cold-as-ice rhythm and blues crew the Greyhounds, Delta Spirit frontman Matthew Logan Vasquez, electronic body-movers Capyac, vibey songstress Suzanna Choffel, and post-genre pop one-man-band Mobley, plus Shane Cooley, the Halfways, Shawman, Jinx McGee, and Cowboy Irie.
The late-September campout marks Utopia’s final year occupying the Four Sisters Ranch, a stunning retreat that alone is worth the drive.
“In 2018, we will begin the next phase in a place that will preserve the Utopian spirit and vibe, and will foster long-term sustainability,” Sutherland recently told fans. “The core values and elements of the fest – quality, affordability, interaction with nature, and intimacy – will never change.”
Sutherland says he’s currently scouting out a new rural paradise for the event and is considering locations closer to Austin.
Tickets, starting at $159, are available on the Utopia Fest website. Per usual, if you buy five, you get another one free.
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