ACL Fest Saturday Picks

The blurbing of ACL 2008

Bonnie Bishop

11:15am, BMI stage

Over the course of three albums, Austin's Bonnie Bishop has proven to be a versatile talent. The upcoming release of the Will Kimbrough-produced Virginia expands the singer-songwriter's stylistic palette even further, delivering soulful blues rockers alongside brushed country ballads. – Doug Freeman

The Black & White Years

Noon, Austin Ventures stage

This year's excellent eponymous debut LP may have been both bolstered and overshadowed by its producer, Jerry Harrison (Talking Heads, the Modern Lovers), but he certainly honed the local quartet's explosive post-punk pop. Live, however, the band holds its own, propelled by Scott Butler's staccato vocal punch. – Doug Freeman

Old 97's

12:30pm, AT&T stage

While its studio releases rarely venture from the alt.country charm that made the group's fortune, it's the scorching live performances that sealed the Dallas-bred quartet's reputation all the way back to its inception in 1993. Hydrate appropriately. – Melanie Haupt

José González

1:30pm, Dell stage

The Swedish-born Argentine troubadour made musical alchemy when he combined the Latin influences of his youth with classical guitar skills. Last fall's In Our Nature (Mute) delivered a slightly less spartan aesthetic than his debut, Veneer, adding hand claps and the occasional synthesizer to stripped-down vox and guitar. – Melanie Haupt

Drive-by Truckers

2:30pm, AT&T stage

Few bands combine Southern rock with knowing lyrics like Georgia's Truckers. The quintet's latest, Brighter Than Creation's Dark (New West), found them tackling domestic bliss, broken hearts, post-traumatic stress, and what remains of the American dream. – Jim Caligiuri

Sharon Jones
Sharon Jones (Photo by Gary Miller)

Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings

2:30pm, AMD stage

The Augusta, Ga.-born Sharon Jones is a giant on stage, and it's only fitting the soul queen shares a birthplace with the Godfather. 100 Days, 100 Nights (Daptone) proves her a modern-day Ms. Dynamite, with her Brooklyn-based Dap-Kings lighting the fuse. – Thomas Fawcett

The Band of Heathens

2:40pm, BMI stage

A songwriter supergroup seems destined for implosion, so it's a testament to the talents of the Band of Heathens that after two live albums, the outfit finally released an excellent studio set with this year's Ray Wylie Hubbard-produced self-titled effort. Melding Ed Jurdi and Gordy Quist's folk ballads with Colin Brooks' rugged blues, the quintet congeals in a country-rock sound. – Doug Freeman

Back Door Slam

2:50pm, Austin Ventures stage

This young blues-rock trio from the UK's Isle of Man has been touring nonstop behind fiery 2007 debut Roll Away, wowing audiences in the process with incendiary live shows. Taking their name from a Robert Cray song and unabashedly strutting their Cream/Hendrix/SRV influences, these confident youngsters capture the mettle of their predecessors. – Jay Trachtenberg

Black Joe Lewis & the Honey Bears

4pm, Austin Ventures stage

This is the story of a hometown boy gone dirty. This is Black Joe, Austin's answer to Southern blues, and he's no fad. As comfortable at Mohawk as the Victory Grill, Black Joe spent 2008 in the studio with Spoon's Jim Eno recording his long-awaited debut LP, and if new stomper "Gunpowder" hints at anything, it's that the Honey Bears are taking over. – Darcie Stevens

Robert Earl Keen

4:30pm, AMD stage

For nearly 25 years, Keen's songs and stories have captured the imagination of not only Texans but fans worldwide. With his band of rowdies, which currently includes the notorious banjo of Danny Barnes, Keen continues to electrify in concert, proof of which comes via an upcoming double disc, Live Is Good (Right Avenue). – Jim Caligiuri

MGMT

5:30pm, AT&T Blue Room stage

The rise of duo MGMT from Brooklyn unknowns to Letterman guests makes it tempting to dismiss its music as fizz, but last year's Oracular Spectacular rolled pop ambition into deceptively deep songs, like the rock-star fantasy "Time to Pretend." – Daniel Mee

Mason Jennings

6:30pm, Austin Ventures stage

Signed to Jack Johnson's Brushfire label, Minneapolis-based troubadour Jennings is deeply spiritual, infusing his music with themes of yearning and transcendence, which shine through on his new album, In the Ever. His interpretations of two Dylan pieces were used in Todd Haynes' recent biopic, I'm Not There. – Jay Trachtenberg

Yonder Mountain String Band

7:15pm, WaMu stage

An exponent of Colorado's diverse jam-grass scene, Yonder Mountain String Band specializes in energetic originals and choice covers from the likes of Frank Zappa, Talking Heads, the Beatles, Willie Nelson, and Ozzy Osbourne. The foursome documents its impeccable ensemble play with a new two-disc set, Mountain Tracks: Volume 5 (Frog Pad). – Jim Caligiuri

Roky Erickson
Roky Erickson (Illustration by Nathan Jensen)

The Black Keys

7:30pm, AT&T Blue Room stage

The Black Keys' 2002 debut landed them in a pack of bands that sounded like the White Stripes, but their greasy authenticity quickly established them as leaders. 2008's Attack & Release (Nonesuch) launched the Akron, Ohio, duo into the second phase of its career, tricking out swinging blues-rock with the bells and whistles of Danger Mouse's production. – Daniel Mee

Roky Erickson

7:45pm, Austin Ventures stage

He's the original master of space and time; one of the four points on the Texas star that includes Willie, Stevie, and Doug; and proof of resurrection. Erickson's recent performances find him energized and as ready to collaborate as go solo, and rumors abound of new songs and studio plans with ZZ Top's Billy Gibbons. Until then, his savage yawp is the seventh wonder of the psychedelic world.– Margaret Moser

Beck
Beck (Illustration by Nathan Jensen)

Beck

8:30pm, AT&T stage

He eschewed his slacker status, precipitated by the breakout success of 1994 hit "Loser," but Beck has remained an outsider even as he's become one of the most influential artists of his generation. For this year's Modern Guilt (DGC), Beck's 10th album and best since 2002's Sea Change, he teamed with producer Danger Mouse to deliver contemporary angst through cultural pastiche. – Doug Freeman

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