14 R&B Acts to Soothe Your SXSW Soul

Black Pumas (photo by David Brendan Hall)

Black Pumas

Wed. 13, Banger’s, 10pm; Thu. 14, Barracuda Backyard, 10pm; Fri. 15, Radio Day Stage @ Austin Convention Center, 4pm
A brooding and cinematic soul project from Austin vocalist Eric Burton and guitarist/producer Adrian Quesada, Black Pumas arrived fully formed in 2018. This year's Austin Music Awards winner of Best New Austin Band still counts only one single online, the sinister psychedelic soul of "Black Moon Rising," but expect a full-length in 2019.

Jerry Paper

Wed. 13, Scratchouse, 10pm; Fri. 15, 3ten ACL Live, 11pm
The Stones Throw label lineup gets a little more gonzo every year. Take Jerry Paper, the subject of a 2014 mockumentary that asks, "Who the heck is this guy?" He's Los Angeles singer/producer Lucas Nathan, who creates genuinely weird and wavy, lo-fi synth-soul tunes that reel you into his bizarro universe. Absurdist art project? Elaborate philosophical thesis? Fuck if I know.

Ivy Sole

Wed. 13, Pour Choices, 12mid; Thu. 14, Empire Control Room, 10pm; Fri. 15, Nuevo Leon, 4pm
On the opening track of 2018 debut studio album Overgrown, Ivy Sole declares herself a "black queer radical, nothing short of magical." Indeed, the Philly-based artist who grew up going to church thrice a week in Charlotte, N.C., raps, sings, and waxes poetic on a sprawling and introspective full-length.

Tameca Jones

Wed. 13, Cooper’s BBQ, 1am
Philly's got Jill Scott, but Austin boasts Tameca Jones. Austin native and powerhouse vocalist, the queen of Austin soul is blessed with a full-throated voice that can knock over a steer on its way to the high notes. Even the toughest crowd gets all "Hot and Bothered."

Tameca Jones (photo by David Brendan Hall)

Durand Jones & the Indications

Thu. 14, Stubb’s, 8pm; Fri. 15, Native Hostel, 11:40pm; Sat. 16, Scoot Inn, 4pm
Durand Jones and his fourpiece band met as music students in Bloomington, Ind., bonded over soul rarities, and recorded a debut of Daptone-styled soul on a shoestring budget ($452.11). This month's sophomore LP American Love Call is the band's vision fully realized. Jones, who grew up in rural Louisiana, splits vocal duties with the soaring falsetto of drummer Aaron Frazer on tracks that summon Marvin Gaye's What's Going On, classic Philly soul, and San Antonio's West Side Sound.

Cautious Clay

Thu. 14, Lustre Pearl, 11pm; Fri. 15, Radio Day Stage @ Austin Convention Center, 5pm
Josh Karpeh stopped giving his best beats away to other artists a couple years ago. The Brooklyn-based singer/producer with a degree in jazz saxophone spent a few years working white-collar jobs before diving headfirst into music. 2018 EP Blood Type, a down-tempo, layered, and moody song cycle, suggests betting on himself was a winning proposition.

Mavis Staples

Thu. 14, Luck Reunion @ Luck Ranch in Spicewood, TBA
Closing in on 80, gospel great Mavis Staples spread the good word of the Staple Singers alongside her sisters and father Pops for nearly half a century and penned a veritable soundtrack to the civil rights movement. Her voice can't soar like her 1969 Stax/Volt solo debut, but she's maintained a remarkable, late-career run by dropping stellar releases at an every-other-year clip for the past 15 years.

Yves Jarvis

Fri. 15, Swan Dive, 10pm
Formerly performing as Un Blonde, the Montreal experimentalist born Jean-Sebastien Audet chose a more personal moniker (Yves is his middle name, Jarvis his mother's maiden name) for this month's The Same but by Different Means on Anti-. His "noir folk" feels lonely and sparse, the 22-track album featuring atmospheric sketches longer than eight minutes and as short as 15 seconds.

Gabriel Royal

Sat. 16, the Townsend, 11pm
Few artists have paid their dues quite like thirtysomething, Oklahoma-born, Brooklyn-based cellist Gabriel Royal. Having spent years lugging his cello into the NYC subway system, blessing passersby with beautiful jazzy compositions while busking for some extra scratch, he now showcases his sunny sophomore LP Miss Once in a Blue Moon. Blending jazz, classical, and soul sensibilities, Royal accompanies with a warm tenor.


Omar Apollo

Wed. 13, Antone’s, 10pm
First-gen Mexican soul singer from Indiana conjures sweet melodies and mellow moods.

Tomar & the FCs

Wed. 13, Saxon Pub, 10pm; Thu. 14, Parker Jazz Club, 11:30pm
Fronted by 50-year-old Austin firecracker Tomar Williams, the FCs cook up Stax-inspired burners.


Sat. 16, Swan Dive Patio, 8:35pm
Brooklyn indie soul surf duo of singer-songwriter Devin Hobdy and guitarist-producer Corey Smith-West is making waves.

The Philharmonik

Sat. 16, Speakeasy Kabaret, 10:50pm
Cali backpacker charms with a funky, singsong flow.


Sat. 16, the Iron Bear, 1am
A former D-1 football player with a law degree, Joseph Nevels' modern R&B is full of "Good Things."

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SXSW Music 2019

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