Take a look at 10 artists that can’t be missed at SXSW.
SXSW (read South by Southwest), is an annual music festival, held each year in Austin, Texas. The event draws more than 2200 performers, of all genres, who play in over 100 venues all over the city. To help narrow down among the many choices, Wide Open Country has chosen our pick for 10 of the artists that can’t be missed.
The music event kicks off on March 17. A complete schedule is available on their website.
10. Nikki Lane
Nikki Lane grew up in South Carolina, before relocating — first to Los Angeles, then to New York City, and then finally making her home in Nashville. Her cross-country living shows in her honest lyrics and raw delivery. Her latest All or Nothin’ record, released last Spring, is exactly that – and she lays it all out each time she takes the stage.
Equally comfortable among the rock or country crowd, and everyone in between, Futurebirds blend the genres into one sound that’s uniquely theirs. Describing themselves as the “synthesis of the two extremes of Neil Young’s yin and yang,” their strong harmonies and unmatched musicianship, combined with painstakingly thought-out song lyrics, keep fans coming back for more.
8. Doug Seegers
Doug Seegers’ debut Going Down to the River album, released last year, hints at the treacherous life Seegers has lived. Once homeless, Seegers scraped by playing on the streets of Music City, before being discovered by documentary filmmakers. After performing his self-penned “Going Down to the River,” Seegers developed a wide fan base online, becoming somewhat of a cult icon in Sweden. Going Down to the River includes guest vocals from both Emmylou Harris and Buddy Miller.
7. Robert Earl Keen
Robert Earl Keen embodies everything that is right about Texas and music. Part country, part Americana, part folk, all talent, Keen tells stories more than puts on a show. Chances are, he’ll pull from his recent Happy Prisoner: The Bluegrass Sessions album as well. An expert at song delivery, and telling the stories to match, Keen has rightfully earned a reputation as one of music’s most seasoned performers.
6. Ryan Bingham
Ryan Bingham writes some of the most poignant and thought-provoking lyrics in music, and people are listening. In addition to releasing five of his own studio albums, including his recent Fear and Saturday Night record, Bingham also wrote much of the music for the 2009 film, Crazy Heart, which earned him an Oscar, a Golden Globe and a Grammy. Bingham also released an EP, iTunes Live: SXSW in 2011.
5. Asleep at the Wheel
With four decades of making music already behind them, Asleep at the Wheel have an extensive catalog to draw from, and they use it. Running through some of their biggest hits, including “The Letter That Johnny Walker Read” and “Route 66,” they also just released their third tribute album to Bob Wills, Still the King: Celebrating the Music of Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys, which will undoubtedly show up in their set as well.
4. Brandi Carlile
Brandi Carlile blurs genre lines, possibly better than anyone, with her well-crafted lyrics and masterful vocal delivery. Whether performing in front of a packed arena with a band, or in front of an intimate crowd with just her and a guitar, Carlile commands – and rightfully earns — attention each time she takes the stage. Her latest Firewatcher’s Daughter will undoubtedly go down in history as one of the most iconic albums of this decade.
3. Whiskey Shivers
Combine bluegrass and punk, and the result is Whiskey Shivers. The five-man group, with an array of instruments they play between them, have one goal when they take the stage: to make sure each and every person in the room has a good time, and it works. It’s impossible to stay seated when they perform, and it’s equally impossible to walk out afterwards without a smile on your face.
2. Della Mae
This all-woman Americana band are as passionate about preserving the future of Americana music as they are singing about it. Between their brave song choices and their flawless harmonies, not to mention their high-energy performances, Della Mae is not to be missed. Plus, with a new album coming out this May, chances are they’ll give a sneak peek of some of their brand-new tracks.
1. Steve Earle
Steve Earle is arguably one of the most iconic artists of the past few decades. His devil-may-care attitude comes out beautifully in his songwriting, conveying compelling stories with a voice that commands attention. Whether It’s one of his earlier songs, like “Guitar Town” or “Copperhead Road,” or a cut from his recent Terraplane record, Earle has rightfully earned his respect as one of music’s living legends. Any chance to see Earle live is one that is not to be missed.