Party Line writer Michael Donahue is down at Tom Lee Park and taking photos of festival-goers all weekend. To see all his pics, follow him on Instagram at camichaeldonahue.
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What to bring:
Zippered plastic bag containing, at the very least, your tickets (all attendees need a ticket regardless of age), keys, cash (all food purchases are cash only), ID (you need a valid photo ID for the purchase of alcohol and to pick up tickets from will-call) and cellphone. Also, it's good to include toilet paper and some hand sanitizer. Extra sunscreen. Rain poncho. Ear plugs. A good attitude: You’re going to get dirty. People are going to spill things on you. You'll have to wait in line to use a port-a-potty. You will pay $9 for a hamburger. Make peace with this now.
Worried about losing your car keys or your cellphone battery dying? Reserve a locker. The lockers come with unlimited access to cellphone charging stations that will be located throughout the park. Cost is $15 a day or $40 for a 3-day rental WITHOUT cellphone charging. Cost is $20 a day or $50 for a 3-day rental WITH access to cellphone charging.
What NOT to bring:
No weapons, beverages, bicycles, cans, containers, coolers, food, glass bottles, laser pointers, lawn chairs, oversized umbrellas, pets, recording equipment, roller blades, roller skates, water guns, strollers and thrown objects such as baseballs, footballs, frisbees, etc.
What to wear:
On your feet: Athletic shoes are good. Rain boots are better, even if it’s not raining. Music + beer + large crowds = wet ground.
Clothing: Keep it comfortable and casual. T-shirts, tanks, light cotton shorts.
On your head: Sunglasses and a brimmed hat will keep the sun out of your eyes and the rain off your head.
On your body: Sunscreen.
If it rains (and it probably will): Remember that poncho we told you to bring? Rain suits are even better. PVC nylon varieties come in many colors and can be found at Target and Walmart. A lighter, less sweaty alternative, are Frogg Toggs rain suits. You can find them at Bass Pro Shops. Wear a pair of shorts underneath and when you get to your car, just strip the rain pants off and throw them in a garbage bag.
What NOT to wear:
Flip flops. You’ll end up going home with one or none. Just sayin'.
Heels. Seriously, we shouldn’t have to explain this one.
White. See above.
Your favorite anything. Fact: The odds of it being ruined by a sloshed SoCo slushy, beer or worse, rise in relationship to your love of said item.
Backpacks: What could you possibly need to bring with you that requires a giant backpack (that security will thoroughly search, mind you)? If it won’t fit in your pocket, you probably don’t need it. If you must bring a bag, keep it small.
And please note: Backpacks larger than 12 inches by 12 inches will not be allowed at this year's Beale Street Music Festival. All purses, backpacks and packages are subject to inspection.
What to stash in the car: Clean, beer-free, mud-free socks. Those flip-flops we told you not to wear, so you can change out of your muddy shoes. A towel or sheet to sit on during the drive home in case you end up muddy. A garbage bag to put all your mud-caked things into. Keep anything of value in the trunk – stow it, don't show it.
Where’s the ATM?
There are ATMs located inside the festival, but be prepared to pay a nice fee for that transaction, somewhere between $2 and $6, depending on your financial institution.
Tri-State Bank, 159 Beale
Merchants and Farmers Bank, 50 Peabody Place
Bank of America, 100 Peabody Place
BankTennessee, 30 N. Second Street
First Tennessee, 165 Madison
SunTrust, 80 Monroe Avenue
Regions, 50 N. Front
First Horizon, 165 Madison
Cadence Bank, 119 S. Court
Where to eat?
Various concessions are located within Tom Lee Park offering Pronto Pups, hamburgers, fries, pizza, funnel cakes, barbecue, gyros, polish sausage, turkey legs, frozen yogurt and various deep-fried delights. If you want a more varied menu, head out of the park and visit any number of Downtown Memphis’ eateries. But don’t forget to get your re-entry ticket before you leave!
How to leave and re-enter the park:
You can exit and re-enter ONCE per day. BEFORE YOU LEAVE THE PARK, exchange your ticket for a re-entry ticket and have your hand stamped. You'll see the signs around the entry points. You have to be back in the park two hours before the gates close (10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 8:30 p.m. on Sunday).
Cab stands are located on the North and South ends of the park. Or call (901) 577-7777. If you've had too many $8 beers and don't have a designated driver, call that number.
Where to park?
There are many parking garages near Tom Lee Park, but they do fill up quickly. Fees to park in these garages may be higher than normal due to the festival. The included link from downtownmemphis.com includes locations and rate information.
There are also several makeshift parking lots within walking distance of the park. Expect to pay anywhere from $5 to $25 to park in these lots. The closer you get to the park, the higher these prices will climb. Remember that you can park farther away and ride the trolley down to Beale. Base fare is $1. A 3-day pass is available for $9. Check the link above for a map of pickup locations.
Also be on the lookout for fake parking lot attendants. If a lot has a sign posted that says "no lot attendant" and you have someone trying to collect your money, report them to the Memphis police. The non-emergency number for MPD is 545-COPS.
Metered street parking is available Downtown, but you'll be lucky if you can snag one of those. If you do, remember you don't have to feed the meter on Saturdays and Sundays.
THE BLACK KEYS
After more than a decade making noise, the Akron-rooted, Nashville-based duo of guitarist Dan Auerbach and drummer Patrick Carney has ascended to the top of the rock and roll ranks. The group made the coronation official this past year with the release El Camino, an album that sold 1.5 million copies, earned them an armful of Grammy Awards, and propelled a sold-out arena tour. Despite their pop and popular transformation in recent years, the group’s music — a staple of commercials, TV and film soundtracks — remains in thrall to the fatback sounds of North Mississippi blues.
ALICE IN CHAINS
Led by founding guitarist/songwriter Jerry Cantrell, the reunited Seattle hard rockers have had a successful resumption — despite the 2002 death of original singer Layne Staley. Now featuring vocalist William DuVall, the band made a triumphant studio comeback with 2009’s gold-selling Black Gives Way to Blue. The band will be performing at music fest in advance of a new record, The Devil Put Dinosaurs Here, which comes out on May 28.
The stage alias of producer and DJ Lorin Ashton, Bassnectar has come to embody the new frontier of electronic dance music. With a spectacular audio presentation and eye-catching light show, Bassnectar’s night capping set is sure to wow festivalgoers, just as he triumphed at the recent Coachella festival in California. In addition to his own music, Ashton has been doing high profile remixes for prog and rock bands like Primus and Black Sabbath.
DARYL HALL & JOHN OATES
One of pop’s most identifiable and dynamic duos, Daryl Hall’s and John Oates’ successful formula — a mingling of classic soul and singer-songwriter touches — yielded a string of top-10 hits throughout the 1970s and ’80s as well as sales of some 50 million albums. Now, 40 plus years after they first partnered, their music remains as popular as ever. In 2009, the pair put out Do What You Want, Be What You Are, a career spanning four-disc collection which gathered the band’s best songs as well as a trove of rarities and unreleased material from throughout its long career. More recently they’ve turned up as guests on talent competitions like “American Idol” and “The Voice,” while playing shows together and separately.
THE FLAMING LIPS
Once named by Q magazine as one of the “50 Bands to See Before You Die,” Oklahoma prog rockers the Flaming Lips are as well known for their elaborate live shows — full of costumes and props and man-sized balloons — as their heady, psychedelic music. The band, which last performed in Memphis in 2012 when it kick started on Beale Street its successful attempt to play the most concert in 24 hours, has released its 13th album, Terror
French alternative rockers Phoenix are raising their homeland’s reputation for creating credible rock music. Singing in English with a punky art-rock edge that seems right out of Brooklyn, the band won over American audiences with its 2009 effort Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix. Their follow-up was released Bankrupt! on April 23 and promises to be much more experimental.
In the 1990s, tracks like “Today,” “1979,” and “Tonight, Tonight” made Chicago’s Smashing Pumpkins one of the biggest band of the grunge era. After breaking up in 2000, frontman Billy Corgan put the group back together in 2007 (he’s currently the only original member) and began the epic 44-song concept project of which the band’s 2012 album-length release Oceania, is ostensibly a part.
The “Lil’ Ol’ Band from Texas” made a strong showing with last year’s Rick Rubin-produced LP La Futura, which followed a nearly decade-long drought of studio material. According to singer/guitarist Billy Gibbons, the gap between albums won’t be as long, as the band is already turning its attention toward a follow-up project with Rubin. Memphis has long served as a second home to the blues-rock trio — they worked on a series of albums at Midtown’s Ardent starting with 1973’s classic Tres Hombres — and the band will be unveiling a long set of favorites as part of their headlining festival turn.
THE BLACK CROWES
Atlanta rock-and-R&B hit makers the Black Crowes have gotten back together after a 2 1/2 year hiatus, a consistent pattern over the band’s almost 25-year history. This time they have reconvened without Luther Dickinson of Mid-South favorites the North Mississippi Allstars, but you can hear him on the band’s new release, the 2010 live set Wiser for the Time.
Though they’ve established themselves as TV’s top house band on “The Late Show with Jimmy Fallon” the Roots also remain the pre-eminent hip-hop group as well, having established their bonafides with classic LPs like Illadelph Halflife and Things Fall Apart. The group is reportedly finishing a new LP titled & Then You Shoot Your Cousin, which is slated for a late 2013 bow. The coming year promises big things as The Roots will follow Fallon to his new gig as host of “The Tonight Show” in 2014. Meantime, drummer Questlove will a publish a musical memoir entitled “Mo’ Meta Blues” this summer.
Recently seen helping out aspiring singers on “The Voice,” roots-pop songstress Sheryl Crow will be back on stage, playing a selection of hits from her multiplatinum and Grammy winning solo career. Two decades after the release of her 1993 solo debut Tuesday Night Music Club, the Kennett, Missouri native remains a popular draw. Her most recent effort, 100 Miles From Memphis, was a soul flavored LP influenced by a range of Bluff City sounds. These days Crow is moving her sound toward country music: she was recently signed to Warner Bros. Nashville imprint and released a single, “Easy,” off a forthcoming album, expected in the fall, which will include contributions from Brad Paisley.
GARY CLARK JR.
Gary Clark, Jr. seemed to come out of nowhere last year, wowing fans in the Beale Street Music Festival’s FedEx Blues Tent before he had even released his major-label debut, Blak and Blu. But blues watchers have had the magnetic guitarist, who starred in the 2007 film “Honeydripper,” on their radar since he was a teen phenom in Austin, Texas, where May 3 has been designated Gary Clark, Jr. Day.
Though he found fame as part of the mid-80s wave of new traditionalists, you could argue Dwight Yoakam ranks alongside the greatest country singers and songwriters of any era. His latest record, 3 Pears, marks a return to his longtime label Warner Brothers, and to the kind of compelling, musically adventurous albums that helped earn Yoakam his place in the pantheon.
EDWARD SHARPE & THE MAGNETIC ZEROS
The 11-piece indie-rock band Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros is the product of the feverish musical mind of Ima Robot singer Alex Ebert. Since forming six years ago, the group has evolved its music, which mixes English folk and ‘60s pop to create an ambitious psych-tinged symphony. The group came on strong with its first release, 2009’s Up from Below, and continues to tour in support of last summer’s Here, which was ranked among Rolling Stone’s Top 10 albums of 2012.
After more than 30 years, legendary rap group Public Enemy still revels in firebrand political commentary as evidenced by the titles of its two 2012 CDs Most of My Heroes Still Don’t Appear on No Stamp and The Evil Empire of Everything. But for their longevity, Chuck D, Flavor Flav, and crew — including Memphian music director Khari Wynn — have become an institution themselves, recently being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
THREE DAYS GRACE
Released in October, Transit of Venus, the fourth album by Canadian metal outfit Three Days Grace, has been another strong entry in the band’s canon. It debuted at No. 5 on the Billboard 200 and No. 1 on the hard rock albums chart. Unfortunately, founding vocalist Adam Gontier had little time to enjoy the success. He left the band in January for health reasons and has been replaced by Matt Walst, brother of bassist Brad Walst.
Blue-eyed soul singer-songwriter Gavin DeGraw has maintained a fierce following (particularly among women) over the course of a 10-year, four-album career, which has seen his airy love songs become a staple of TV shows like “One Tree Hill” and “The Bachelor.” DeGraw continues to draw fans through his recent appearances on ABC’s “Dancing with the Stars” and Nickelodeon’s “Big Time Rush.”
Jakob Dylan and the rest of The Wallflowers, which include longtime members Rami Jaffee and Greg Richling, made a welcome return last fall with the release of Glad All Over, the group’s first album in seven years. Back in 2005 — after five studio LPs, Grammy honors and much commercial success — the band was quietly put on hold, as its members each pursued different projects. Dylan made two excellent solo albums, Jaffee toured with The Foo Fighters and Richling worked as a producer and session player. The Wallflowers eventually resumed touring in 2009, but it wasn’t until last year that they began work on Glad, recording at Nashville’s Easy Eye Sound, the studio owned by The Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach. The group’s Memphis appearance comes following a series of shows opening for Eric Clapton.
One half of hip-hop giants Outkast, Big Boi (aka Antwan Patton) has had plenty to say on his own, as evidenced by a pair of stellar solo albums, including 2012’s Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors. The disc tackles a wide variety of complex topics, from marriage to his father’s death. The Atlanta native has been getting raves for the shows on his current U.S. tour.
Hearts will be heavy for the music fest performance by veteran Sacramento alt-metal band, the Deftones, as the group’s co-founder/bassist Chi Cheng died April 14, some five years after a car crash left him in a coma. In a statement, Deftones guitarist Stephen Carpenter said that “there will be a hole in our lives where Chi once was.” The band had soldiered on since Cheng’s accident in 2008, adding bassist/vocalist Sergio Vega. The group released a new album, Koi No Yokan, last fall, a worthy continuation of its legacy of critically acclaimed and commercially successful albums.
JERRY LEE LEWIS
What more can you say about The Killer? Newly remarried (for the seventh time) and recently having opened the doors of a Beale Street club bearing his name, the 77-year-old piano man and first generation rock icon returns to music fest after he was forced to skip last year’s edition with a broken foot. His performance is sure to be loaded with familiar hits and, hopefully, the odd, old chestnut he typically pulls out for the event.
Following the release of “Just Kids” -- her award winning memoir about friend Robert Mapplethorpe — singer-songwriter Patti Smith returned to music with her 11th studio album last fall, called Banga. At 66, the rock poetess is still among the most powerful performers on the planet and will be making a rare Memphis appearance, supported by longtime collaborator, guitarist Lenny Kaye.
North Carolina dance music DJ Porter Robinson has dished out remixes for the likes of Lady Gaga and Ministry of Sound’s Tim Berg, but he’s also gained a reputation for his own extended EP Spitfire, which became a dance sensation and Billboard chart hit. He recently released a collaboration with British trance favorite Mat Zo, and Robinson will be offering the first ever “after hours” set at the music festival.
The Staple Singers legend and Stax label alum was front and center last month performing for President Obama as the White House saluted the legacy of Memphis soul. Staples has enjoyed a run of critical and commercial success for her recent albums on the boutique Los Angeles label Anti-, including 2010s Jeff Tweedy-produced platter You Are Not Alone. Staples is back with a follow-up, another Tweedy-helmed effort called, One True Vine, which will be released next month, and features a mix of new songs and covers of Low and Funkadelic.
The electronica-based solo project of Home Town Hero and Under the Influence of Giants band member Aaron Bruno, AWOLNATION drew attention with its 2011 debut Megalithic Symphony and the ubiquitous Top 10 single “Sail.” Bruno is currently working on his follow up record.
Formed 20 years ago, the Northern California band Papa Roach has explored most of the trends in heavy music in that span. Much of that can be heard on the band’s latest, the 2012 release The Connection, which includes elements of glam metal and rap-rock alongside straight-ahead heavy sounds.
West Coast electronic musician MiMOSA has been turning on crowds with his expansive approach to dubstep and glitch-hop. A Bay Area native now based in LA, MiMOSA’s become a festival favorite the world over, winning converts for his imaginative sound collages, which are laced with old-school hip-hop touches and nods to modern ambient music.
Born as an Allman Brothers side project, nearly 20-plus years ago, Gov’t Mule has become a Southern rock institution in its own right. A summer festival favorite, the group — powered by the playing of guitarist Warren Haynes — has acquired an adoring audience of jam lovers, blues aficionados and funk fans. The band’s most recent studio album was 2010s Mulennium, but the band released a live collection The Georgia Bootleg Box last fall.
THE JOY FORMIDABLE
This Welsh alt-rock trio has built its fast-rising reputation on a pair of albums: 2011’s powerful debut The Big Roar, and the recently released follow-up Wolff’s Law. Fronted by charming singer/guitarist Rhiannon “Ritzy” Bryan, and featuring Rhydian Dafydd on bass and Matthew James Thomas on drums, the band has made waves on both sides of the Atlantic, with their music turning up in the “Twilight” film series and winning raves for performances at the annual South by Southwest Music Festival.
Memphis’ Lucero marks 15 years in 2013 as one of the country’s most consistently innovating alternative rock bands. From their origins as a country-punk band, the group has steadily expanded their ranks and their sound to embrace Memphis soul, the sweep of Springsteen, and gospel fervor.
The alternative-roots band led by Camper Van Beethoven singer David Lowery and guitarist Johnny Hickman scored a succession of hits in the early-’90s, including the ubiquitous modern rock radio smash “Low.” Though both Lowery and Hickman have worked on separate projects, Cracker has continued to turn out a fine collection of albums over the years, including 2009’s Sunrise in the Land of Milk and Honey.
Known for “unleashing the fury” on stage and off, Swedish neoclassical/hard rock guitarist Yngwie Malmsteen will be showcasing the frenetic fretwork that’s earned him the devotion of an army of shredders. Malmsteen, released his 19th and most recent record, Spellbound, last December. The collection finds the musical multithreat playing all the instruments. Fans of the guitarist are eagerly anticipating the release his autobiography, “Relentless: The Memoir”, next week, as well.
Known as the “The Screaming Eagle of Soul”, this 62-year-old Florida R&B maven has been enjoying a late in life career surge since being discovered by the hip Brooklyn-based label Daptone. Bradley is also the subject of the documentary “Soul of America,” which documents his eventful, troubled life — from his days living on the streets, to stints as a James Brown impersonator, to the death of his brother, to his more recent musical success. After releasing a series of singles, starting in 2002, Bradley made his full length debut in 2011 with No Time for Dreaming. The platter wowed critics, as has his new sophomore CD, Victim of Love. Bradley will be performing with his backing outfit, the Menahan Street Band.
A pioneer of the Memphis hip-hop scene, Al Kapone was little known outside of the city before three of his songs, including the title track and club hit “Whoop That Trick,” appeared on the hit soundtrack to the Oscar-winning film “Hustle & Flow.” Since then, Kapone has found a new currency working with crunk stars like Three 6 Mafia, 8Ball & MJG, and Lil’ Jon.
Fronted by boozy singer-songwriter John McCauley, Providence, RI., group Deer Tick has emerged as one of the more versatile rock bands to come along in recent years. From the early Americana sound of early records like Born On Flag Day, the band has of late pursued a more Rolling Stones/The Replacements vibe on records like 2011’s Divine Providence and last year’s EP Tim.
A band of Gen X-ers who formed just three years ago in Los Angeles, Vintage Trouble, with their blend of bluesy rock and R&B, sound like they stepped right off the stage at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967. Fronted by former Dakota Moon member and “Rock Star: INXS” contestant Ty Taylor, the band won the paradoxically named 2011 Classic Rock Award for best new artist. Their debut album, The Bomb Shelter Sessions, came out last year.
Nineteen year-old English singer songwriter Jake Bugg has won raves for his self-titled debut on Mercury records, which hit the top of the British charts. He’s been steadily building a buzz in the U.S. with appearances on “Conan” and the use of his song “Lightining Bolt” in a recent Gatorade commercial. Bugg’s sprite folk/rockabilly feel should fit perfectly as he finds himself sandwiched on a bill between a pair of Sun Records legends.
A stalwart of the contemporary blues scene, this left-handed, upside-down guitar player and singer has a sterling track record. A veteran of John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers and the Albert Collins band, Montoya is a tireless touring act and festival standout, playing an average of 200 dates a year. Montoya has still found time to record a series of much-lauded LPs, including most recent R&B-styled effort I Want It All Back.
Bluesy singer Louise Hoffsten was bridging Memphis and her native Sweden long before Beale Street Music Festival officials tapped her to be the featured artist from this year’s honored country. A big star in her homeland since the ’80s, the singer has in recent years cut two releases for the local Memphis International Records label, including 2005’s From Linköping to Memphis, featuring a lineup of Bluff City musicians.
26-year-old Isle of Man native Davy Knowles has demanded the attention of blues players and listeners alike since breaking with his band Back Door Slam to go solo in 2009. He has toured with Jeff Beck and Joe Satriani and his 2009 solo debut Coming Up For Air was co-producer by Peter Frampton.
SONNY BURGESS AND THE LEGENDARY PACERS
Still remarkably spry at age 81, Sun Records vet Albert “Sonny” Burgess opens the day’s proceedings. Burgess first emerged as a guitar-wielding wild man amid the rich Arkansas scene of the mid-50s. He and the Pacers achieved rockabilly immortality with their earliest efforts for Sun — notably their essential debut single “Red-Headed Woman”/”We Wanna Boogie” — and Burgess and company continued to play in various forms throughout the ‘60s. By the early ‘70s, Burgess had effectively retired from the music business, but he’s enjoyed a tremendous comeback in the decades since, re-forming his classic band the Pacers in the ‘90s, touring the world and continuing to put out a series of fine albums.
Mississippi songstress Shannon McNally will do the honors, officially kicking off this year’s music fest. Late last month, McNally marked the release of her 10th CD, Small Town Talk, a collection of covers dedicated to the work of her friend, the late Louisiana songwriter Bobby Charles (“See You Later Alligator”; “Walking to New Orleans”). The disc was produced by and features the playing another of Charles’ close comrades, Crescent City piano great Dr. John.
Seattle combo Pickwick are an up-and-coming neo-soul outfit that have already won the hearts of the NPR set with their LP Can’t Talk Medicine. A cleverly crafted fusion of R&B, blues and soul, the band’s songs are buoyed by the attention grabbing vocals of singer Galen Disston.
A Jackson, Miss., native and onetime International Blues Challenge winner, Zac Harmon has worked as a sideman for a string of artists (Z.Z. Hill, Dorothy Moore and Sam Myers), served as studio musician and established himself as a writer and producer, crafting songs for the likes of the O’Jays, Whispers, Karyn White, Alexander O’Neal and Black Uhuru. In the early-2000s he blossomed as a solo star, and has continued to turn out a series of stellar blues albums.
THE SLIDE BROTHERS
Giants already in the world of sacred steel music made famous by Robert Randolph, the Slide Brothers — Calvin Cooke, Chuck Campbell, Darick Campbell and Aubrey Ghent — are following their friend and mentor into the secular realm. Their just-released self-titled debut album shows as much influence from the Allman Brothers and Jimi Hendrix as the pulpit.
STAR AND MICEY
Ardent label signees Star & Micey have been longtime local favorites, but they finally earned some national notice with last fall’s I Can’t Wait EP. The band’s effervescent brand of folk-pop was hailed by a number of critics and outlets, including Paste magazine, which tabbed the group as one of Tennessee’s top acts.
RONNIE BAKER BROOKS
The son of Chicago guitar slinger Lonnie Brooks, Ronnie Baker Brooks is doing the family name proud with his own distinctive, modern take on the blues. Baker Brooks continues to draw inspiration from the likes of Jimi Hendrix and Prince, as heard on his last release The Torch, which was produced by Prince cohort Jellybean Johnson.
RIVER CITY TANLINES
Veterans of too many bands to count, the members of Memphis trio the River City Tanlines have perhaps found their purest expression in this lean, raw punk rock outfit. Acclaimed by outlets like National Public Radio, the group last year released their third record — and first in five years — Coast to Coast.
HERITAGE BLUES ORCHESTRA
This powerful ensemble is deeply rooted in tradition, while expressing a forward looking view of the blues. Boasting a collection of noted players — Bill Sims Jr. and Junior Mack on guitar and vocals, and Sims’ daughter, Chaney on vocals — the group marshals myriad sounds from “field hollers, work songs, spirituals, soaring gospel voices and the hard-driving rhythms of the Delta and the hill country of northern Mississippi.” The band’s 2012 debut, And I Still Rise, was nominated for a Grammy and the group will be up for a number of top honors at the Blues Music Awards next week in Memphis.
SUPER CHIKAN & THE FIGHTING COCKS
The darling of Darling, Miss., bluesman James “Super Chikan” Johnson has established himself as one of the more innovative practitioners of the genre in recent years. Based out of Clarksdale, the Blues Music Award winner has sired a succession of roots-fueled explorations including 2009’s Chikadelic and 2011’s duo project with Watermelon Slim, Okiesippi Blues.
JIMBO MATHUS & THE TRI-STATE COALITION
North Mississippi native and music fest perennial Jimbo Mathus returns for another blues tent revival meeting. The eclectic Mathus — formerly of the swinging Squirrel Nut Zippers — will be performing with his Tri-State Coalition band. The group, which released last year’s excellent Confederate Buddha LP, and followed with this year’s Eric “Roscoe” Ambel-produced White Buffalo, offers up a buzzing mix of Southern rock, country and folk.
ROYAL SOUTHERN BROTHERHOOD
As aptly-named a band as there ever was, Royal Southern Brotherhood features scions of two of America’s greatest musical families. Cyril Neville is, of course, one of New Orleans’ famous Neville brothers, while Devon Allman is the son of the Allman Brothers Band’s Gregg Allman and nephew of their late guitarist Duane. They team with veteran guitarist Mike Zito and drummer Yonrico Scott in a band that deftly blends a variety of traditions into something powerfully unique.
A favorite son of Beale Street and a regular at B.B. King’s blues club, local musical prodigy Will Tucker continues to blossom as a guitarist. In addition to his debut CD Stealin’ the Soul, Tucker has done soundtrack work with “American Idol” judge Randy Jackson, and won over crowds as an opener for King and Charlie Musselwhite. A new CD from Tucker is in the works.
Highly touted Memphis rapper Don Trip is the latest Bluff City MC to be scooped up by a big label. Signed by Interscope in 2011, he’s been laboring over what promises to be the most anticipated local record of 2013; Trip’s been working with Dr. Dre and Cee-Lo among other big names on the project. In the meantime, Trip dropped a pair of mixtapes in 2012 — Guerrilla and Help Is On the Way — that served as clarion calls to rap’s true believers, and offered a tantalizing preview of things to come. He’s continued to perform live and release a string of new tracks (including the recent “Sittin’ Phat”) that have hip-hop fans hoping for the imminent arrival of his debut.
Austin garage rockers the Heartless Bastards have developed a contingent of loyal fans who have followed them over the course of three albums for Mississippi’s Fat Possum label (or been hipped to their music through its prominent use in the popular TV series “Friday Night Lights”). The group’s latest LP, Arrow, which came out on the Partisan label, showcases frontwoman Erika Wennerstrom’s evolution as a songwriter and vocalist, proving to be the band’s creative high watermark.
A North Mississippi native, Kenny Brown started playing the blues at age 12, learning from such regional masters as Joe Callicott and R.L. Burnside. These days Brown is the master. In 2011 he released his second album, the double disc Can’t Stay Long. He can also be seen and heard in the 2006 film “Black Snake Moan.” Every summer, Brown helps pass the music down to other generations with an annual festival, the North Mississippi Hill Country Picnic, near his home in Potts Camp, Miss.
Memphis harmonica player Brandon O. Bailey first came to blues fans attention when he won the 2008 “Orpheum Star Search” competition. Schooled in Big Walter Horton and Sonny Boy Williamson II, Bailey has taken his instrument to new heights with an innovative looping technique that allows him to become a one-man band. Bailey, who has been featured on National Public Radio and PBS, released the iTunes chart-topping album Memphis Grooves in 2011 followed by the EP Senses in 2012.
MARKUS JAMES & KINNEY KIMBROUGH
Virginia native Markus James plays a brand of “world blues” — traditional Delta sounds with a West African twist — which has been brilliantly captured on a series of LPs, including collaborations with Timbuktoubab and the Wassonrai. James will perform with drummer Kinney Kimbrough, son of Junior Kimbrough, the patriarch of the revered Hill Country blues family.
The singer and guitarist of the Ghost Town Blues Band — which made the finals of this past January’s International Blues Challenge — will be playing a stripped down set with drummer Preston McEwen.
After more than 15 years of gigging on Beale Street and around the world, Pittsburg transplant Barbara Blue has more than earned her title as “Reigning Queen of Beale Street Blues.” With a big, bold voice and brassy personality, she joins the likes of Ma Rainey, Koko Taylor, and Ruby Wilson. Her latest CD is the independent release Jus’ Blue.
Taking their name from their small Middle Tennessee hometown, country-tinged alternative rock outfit the Kingston Springs made a big noise last year, releasing their self-titled album and playing Kentucky’s Starry Nights Music + Arts Festival with Cage the Elephant, Jeff the Brotherhood, and others.
The longtime foil to bluesman Blind Mississippi Morris, Memphis native Brad Webb has proved himself over a four-decade career as a songwriter, producer and guitarist, playing with such local legends as Fred Sanders, Earl “The Pearl” Banks, Willie Foster, and Reba Russell.
BLIND MISSISSIPPI MORRIS
Clarksdale’s favorite son and Beale Street blues stalwart Morris will be delivering his Delta grooves on the Shack stage.
FUZZY JEFFRIES & THE KINGS OF MEMPHIS
An Illinois native now transplanted to the Bluff City, Jeffries is a veteran guitarist who’s played for Sir Charles Jones, Bobby Rush, and Little Milton. He will front his own popular Beale Street combo for this blues tent performance.