ACL Fest Friday Picks


Noon, Austin Ventures stage

Some compare their grooves to late jazz organist Jimmy Smith, but the local trio likes to describe itself as "Hall & Oates meets ZZ Top." The Greyhounds are part of the new funk scene that's sprung up in Austin, and their Seventies soul meets Texas blues – with the occasional trek into improvisation – has hit its stride. – Jim Caligiuri

Heartless Bastards

1:30pm, AT&T Blue Room stage

Behind Erika Wennerstrom's guttural holler, Cincinnati's Heartless Bastards glimpse reality through the bottom of a bottle. Last year's powerful, underrated sophomore release, All This Time (Fat Possum), took Cat Power and roughed her up. Prettier than debut Stairs and Elevators but lacking none of its rough edges, the Bastards have a little bit for everyone: truth, pain, love, and a whole lot of heart. – Darcie Stevens

Joseph Arthur & the Lonely Astronauts

1:30pm, Dell stage

Ten years ago, Peter Gabriel's Real World Records released the debut of Ohio-born Joseph Arthur, a bittersweet singer-songwriter of the first order. The Brooklyn resident's work appeared on the Shrek 2 soundtrack, and now Arthur has a media imprint, Lonely Astronaut, the tag for his proto-rock backing band and issuers of latest Let's Just Be. Arthur's also working with A River Blue, an arts empowerment project in Northern Ugandan refugee camps. – David Lynch

The Del McCoury Band

1:50pm, Austin Ventures stage

The Del McCoury Band remains the most awarded group in bluegrass history, whose diverse collaborations with artists ranging from Phish to Steve Earle have marked them as one of the most popular, as well. Retaining the roots of a genre McCoury helped define over his 50-year career, the Nashville quintet continues to broaden their appeal with last year's The Promised Land, their first full gospel recording. – Doug Freeman

Pete Yorn

2:30pm, AT&T stage

Fresh off a supporting gig with the Dixie Chicks, L.A.-based indie hunk Pete Yorn is currently on tour with the recently reunited Crowded House. Yorn released his third album, Nightcrawler (Columbia), late last year, completing the informal day-leading-into-night trilogy begun with his 2001 debut, Musicforthemorningafter. He fuzzes up the cleaner edges of its progenitor and adds a wiser, wearier chapter to the diary of his life. – Melanie Haupt

Amy LaVere

2:40pm, BMI stage

She may be remembered for her portrayal of Wanda Jackson in the Johnny Cash biopic Walk the Line, but now Memphian Amy LaVere's causing a stir with the arrival of her second album, Anchors & Anvils (Archer), helmed by legendary Big Star producer and Memphis legend Jim Dickinson. The upright-bass-thumper possesses a smoky voice and the ability to charm country, blues, and gypsy jazz into a mesmerizing whole. – Jim Caligiuri

Blonde Redhead

3:30pm, AT&T Blue Room stage

New York's Blonde Redhead is like that childhood blanket you never could part with: No matter how long it's been around, it's always comforting to roll around in. The threepiece's latest, 23 (4AD), is ethereal and futuristic, with Kazu Makino's subtle sighs grooving perfectly with the synth and drum beats of Italian twins Amedeo and Simone Pace. Upbeat shoegaze for art-pop lovers. – Darcie Stevens

Big Sam's Funky Nation

4:30pm, WaMu stage

Big Sam, former trombonist for the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, leads his Funky Nation through a mess of big-band funk. Shakin' it second line NOLA-style and leading the crowd like an MC, Sam and his talented group of jazz-trained musicians dare you to stand still while they're onstage. Further proof is in the funk of latest Take Me Back, which features tracks like "Shake Yo Thang" and "Party." – Jim Caligiuri

Joss Stone

4:30pm, AT&T stage

Former teen blues sensation Joss Stone caused an uproar in February due to a rambling, impromptu speech at the BRIT Awards, leading many of her countrymen to express concern (and snark) about her mental health and sobriety. That said, her latest, Introducing Joss Stone (Virgin), fuses hip-hop, soul, and neo-blues to powerful effect, much like her new, purple-streaked hair. – Melanie Haupt

J.J. Grey & Mofro

5:15pm, Austin Ventures stage

Jacksonville, Fla., residents J.J. Grey & Mofro elevated swampy Southern rock earlier this year with the release of Country Ghetto, their debut for Alligator Records. Through near-constant touring, the quintet has developed a rabid following on the jam-band circuit and most recently served as the opening act on a string of dates with the Allman Brothers. – Jim Caligiuri

James Hunter

6:30pm, Austin Ventures stage

After years in obscurity, James Hunter captured the heart of vintage soul with 2006's People Gonna Talk (Rounder). A triple threat singer/songwriter/guitarist, the Englishman channels Sam Cooke and Ray Charles with exceptional vitality, which eliminates any claims of his being strictly an imitator. For Friday's performance, Hunter is joined by his UK band, which makes its Texas debut. – Jim Caligiuri

Queens of the Stone Age

6:30pm, AMD stage

There's a reason Josh Homme is commonly referred to as "the Dude." A decade after the demise of stoner- rock pioneers Kyuss, countless Desert Sessions with artists like P.J. Harvey, and bashing skins in the Eagles of Death Metal, the frontman and guitarist ushers in a new Era Vulgaris. The Queens' fifth LP simmers with slow punk, an epochal testament to Homme's reign as king of sleaze. – Austin Powell

Gotan Project

7:30pm, Dell stage

As one of the most successful contemporary bands to forge international sounds, Gotan Project's French/Argentinean collaboration blends the seductive rhythms of tango with European electronica and heavy doses of dub and downtempo. Following 2001's global debut smash, La Revancha del Tango, the Paris/Buenos Aires axis became even stronger with last year's Lunático (XL), incorporating rap and spoken word ... en español, of course – Jay Trachtenberg

Reverend Horton Heat

7:45pm, Austin Ventures stage

When the good Reverend unleashes the gospel of "Psychobilly Freakout," nary a congregation can resist conversion. With 11 releases over the past 15 years, including 2005's first-ever psychobilly Christmas album, We Three Kings, Jim Heath's Dallas trio remains the flag bearer of the genre, upholding an irreverent trinity of drugs, sex, and fast cars with a raucous, hell-raising fury of crazed guitar glory. – Doug Freeman

The Killers

8:15pm, AMD stage

Somewhere in the desert exists Sam's Town, the no-man's land that is the Killers' sophomore effort. Led by colorful frontman Brandon Flowers, the Las Vegas quartet trades the synths of 2004's still-simmering debut, Hot Fuss, for strings and a lethal dose of stadium-sized melodrama, resulting in a bombastic and theatrical pop album that oddly resembles Meatloaf's Bat Out of Hell. – Austin Powell

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