Of all the performers playing this years festival, I have seen headliner Keller Williams more times than any of the other bands combined. I spent the early-to-mid 2000’s traveling around trying to catch Keller wherever I could. Hell, in 2005 I even traveled to Amsterdam to see Keller for three nights in a row at the very first Jam In The Dam festival. He’s been apart of numerous side project that all usually bear his name, and feature his songs, but his best performances are the ones that find him alone on the stage with his arsenal of instruments. He’s an acoustic guitar virtuoso, that combines live looping and the use of other toys and instruments to build each of his songs from scratch every time he performs them. Just like a snowflake, a live Keller Williams song is never the exact same. Employing a host of covers to his repertoire, Keller will always surprise you with a reggae take on a Grateful Dead song, or a stripped down acoustic version of an Amy Winehouse song. You never really know with him. That’s why he has been and always will be one of my absolute favorites.
Most of the bands playing this years festival are in the folk/americana/bluegrass/indie realm, but the festival promoters knew they’d have to bring some energy to the late night crowd to ensure a proper dance party. Well, they did a great job in their choice of bands to incite said party. Austin-based Latin funk group Grupo Fantasma will be closing the Utopia main stage on Friday, with their endless assortment of danceable tunes. I’ve caught the group a few times over the years, and have never left with out a smile on my face and my body soaked in sweat. Can’t wait for this show tomorrow!
I’ve had the opportunity to catch Cornmeal numerous times over the past few years at a host of festivals including Wakarusa, Harvest Festival and more. At the front of the group is fiddle player Allie Krall, who not only slays her strings, but is also one of the nicest people in the bluegrass and jamband community. The rest of the band are no slouches either, each bringing skill to their instruments that culminates into a fun, dancey newgrass sound. I’d expect their set to be quite rambunctious, and a perfect way to open up the main stage of Utopia on Friday evening. Check out their tune “Hillbilly Ride” below.
Artsy indie-rockers with a debut produced by Jerry Harrison of the Talking Heads. Sign me up. Austin-based The Black And White Years will be entertaining the early dinner crowd on the main stage at this years Utopia with their unique take on your standard indie rock basis. You can definitely hear the Talking Heads influence on a bunch of their music, especially on the track I’ve included below, “Zeroes and Ones.” I’m looking forward to catching their set before heading back to camp to grill up some meat. I have a feeling they might leave one of the best tastes in my mouth of any band playing the festival (other than Dawes and Keller, of course).
My good friend Mark Austin has recently revamped his web series, Back Seat Jukebox, and has posted a plethora of videos from the past few months featuring mostly Houston-based artists to go along with the new website. At Houston’s BestFest a few weekends ago, Austin talked the boys of Rhode Island group Deer Tick into taking a ride with him through downtown adorned in as much Monster Energy Drink gear as they could throw on while playing through one of their latest tracks, “The Bump,” from their most recent LP, Divine Providence. Despite cramped quarters, Deer Tick had no problem killing the acoustic version which sounds more like a comedic, bluesy B-side from Exile-era Rolling Stones rather than the norm from the indie-folksters.
Head on over to the Back Seat Jukebox website to see more videos from the likes of Robert Ellis, Buxton, Fat Tony, Young Girls, B L A C K I E, Mason Lankford, Come See My Dead Person and a whole bunch more. There’s so much good stuff over there, you’d be missing out if you didn’t stop by at least for a minute.
With MTV turning 30, and the MTV generation a wee bit older than that, music videos have steadily returned to their state of relevancy as of late. I’m not sure if it has anything to do with all of the recent MTV nostalgia that everyone these days are having, but we are, on a daily basis, reaping the benefits with a host of ocular treats. While there is no chance in hell in flipping the telly to said station and seeing any form of music videos anymore, it’s good to know that it certainly brought the art of the music video to the mainstream. Now, these days, even though videos are getting less facetime in popular culture, bands are now spreading the interwebs with their take on the now classic art form.
Just today, My Morning Jacket, have released their latest video for the catchy-as-hell “Holdin’ On To Black Metal,” which starts with MMJ-meets-Rock-afire-Explosion-on-LSD and ends on Lucifer’s beach. Also, intertwined with the psychedelia is live concert footage from the 2011 Bonnaroo Music Festival that they co-headlined earlier this year. Check it out in all of its twisted glory.
The fine folks at Free Press Houston and Funwunce Supergroup put together a pretty awesome re-cap of the 2011 edition of Free Press Summerfest which took place last weekend in downtown Houston. This video shows quite a bit of the events, and does a great job at capturing the spirit of the festival. I’m working on putting my photos from Summerfest up, but while you wait for those, check out the official re-cap video.
Makes me long for more. Seriously. I can’t wait for 2012.
This lovely Sunday brought to me the realization that there are several new releases I’m excited about this month. Last week we had Fleet Foxes‘ new album, Helplessess Blues, which was very well received. There are tons of great albums coming out this month, but I’ll only tell you about the ones on my list of awesomeness.
On May 17, Ben Harper‘s Give Till It’s Gone is set to release. The first single “Rock N’ Roll Is Free” has been out since the end of March, and the video recently hit the web, too. This release comes to us just a couple of weeks before his performance at this year’s Wakarusa Camping & Music Festival. I plan on having the album on repeat for a few days before Wakarusa, so I can sing along at the show.
Saturday is easily the day I’m most excited about. New bands to discover, old bands to treasure. There’s a bit of everything on the 3rd day of Old Settlers, from creepy almost-twins to sexy irishmen and tried and true Texans, you won’t be disappointed. Get ready for a blistering day of awesome deliciousness. Read on for the full preview.
Filligar is a rock band out of Chicago. Three brothers and a friend. I wanted to learn more about them before I shared them with you. But why make you wait? Without any preconceived ideas, just click play on the video for “Robbery (Shocking Love)” from their most recent album, The Nerve.
Our primary goals are to spread the word about artists that we love and to encourage more people to experience the joys of live music events. We also want to promote musical exploration - don't just listen to what the blogosphere tells you to listen to, get out there and discover new artists yourself! There's a wealth of talent out there waiting for you to lend them an ear.