If you’re in Austin, Texas this week, naturally you’re looking to see some great bands and attend some amazing parties. Look no further than The Billy Reid Shindig, an annual event which tops itself this year with another stellar lineup.
American Songwriter’s latest cover subjects, the mighty Dawes, will headline Wednesday’s showcase at Weather Up, which also features John McCauley, Jonny Fritz, and Nashville’s The Weeks. Texas music legend Ray Wylie Hubbard will headline Thursday’s event, which will see sets from Jason Isbell, The Heartless Bastards, and Lilly Hiatt (look for a special appearance from her dad.)
Check out the full band list, RSVP here, and get a free download of tracks from each band below.
The Weeks, “Brother In The Night”
The Weeks groove and grunt their way through this tribute to Mississippi, the band’s home state. While horns and background vocals swirl in the background, Cyle Barnes sings lines like “I’m a southern man forever” with a bold, boozy slur, sounding like he’s halfway through a bottle of something strong.
Drivin’ N’ Cryin’, “Ain’t Waitin’ On Tomorrow”
Atlanta’s favorite road warriors seize the day with “Ain’t Waitin’ On Tomorrow,” a diesel-charged rocker built on screaming guitar riffs and pummeling percussion. The whole thing ends with a howl from Kevn Kinney, one of the South’s most ferocious 50-something frontmen.
Deer Tick, “Born At Zero” (acoustic)”
“I wanna feel your skin upon my skin, but I’m not feeling great about letting you in,” goes the chorus to this loose, rootsy rave-up. The original version channeled the Replacements. This acoustic performance, with its shambling tempo and rusty-throated vocals, sounds more like Exile-era Rolling Stones.
Quiet Hounds, “I Get Up”
Harmonicas squawk, feet stomp and acoustic guitars ring during “I Get Up,” a heartland rock and roll anthem about pulling yourself together for the sake of the people who love you. Strings and horns crash the party as the song winds to a close, creating a swell that echoes the track’s carpe diem message.
Jonny Fritz, “Ain’t It Your Birthday?”
The artist formerly known as Jonny Corndawg may have a new name, but his mid-century country sound hasn’t changed a bit. On this cut from Dad Country, Fritz drives 250 miles on an empty tank – “dodging deer along the way,” he adds – to tell his baby happy birthday. Nothing corny about that.
Nikki Lane, “Man Up”
Nikki Lane dishes out some tough love on this honky-tonkin’ throwback. “You better get off your ass!” she warns her lover, stuttering her way through the song’s refrain (“m-m-m-man up”) and carrying herself with all the assurance of an indie Loretta Lynn
Caught somewhere between the bright-eyed bounce of Phoenix and the big-city swagger of the Strokes, “Spotlight” – the first track from Leagues’ full-length debut – finds frontman Thad Cockrell trading his singer-songwriter threads for dance shoes and skinny jeans.
Wild Cub, “Thunder Clatter”
Wild Cub channel the tropics with “Thunder Clatter,” the first single from the Nashville duo’s debut album. While Afro-pop guitars jangle and polyphonic drums rattle, vocalist Keegan DeWitt sings about looking for a long lost love. “It was hidden in the fall,” he eventually reveals, but this song is about as summery as it gets.
Cory Chisel & The Wandering Sons, “Foxgloves”
Cory Chisel and company take their time on this minor-key, slow-burning ballad, which builds itself into a towering mix of pedal steel, organ, and electric guitar. The backup harmonies from keyboardist Adriel Harris are a nice touch, too, proof that Americana doesn’t have to be a boys’ club.
Rayland Baxter, “Driveway Melody”
The son of pedal steel legend Bucky Baxter, Rayland blazes his own path with songs steeped in folk, Americana, and quirky pop. On “Driveway Melody,” he works a little toe-tapping doo-wop into the mix, as well as a dedication to his grandma. Gotta keep it in the family.
Promised Land, “Yes You Can”
Named after a Chuck Berry tune, Promised Land plays old-school barroom rock & roll with a hint of country twang. On this cut from their debut album, the boys bounce between Telecaster solos and cymbal crashes, sandwiching their multi-part vocal harmonies into the middle.
Natalie Prass, “Move Me ‘Round”
Technically speaking, Natalie Prass is from Cleveland. On “Move Me ‘Round,” though, the singer-songwriter swirls Indian music, reggae and indie-pop into the same globe-trotting tune, trading middle America for something more far-flung and exotic.
Heartless Bastards, “Only For You”
Erika Wennerstrom is smitten. On the heartsick “Only For You,” she croons like Smokey Robinson over a laidback neo-soul groove, cooing and oohing whenever actual words fail her. It’s a bit odd and a bit irresistible, just like love itself.
Jason Isbell, “TVA”
Originally released as a Drive-By Truckers B-side, this nostalgic tribute to the Tennessee Valley Authority – specifically Wilson Dam, which spans the Tennessee River just outside of Muscle Shoals – is stripped down to its acoustic roots and performed in front of a live Birmingham audience.
Milk Carton Kids, “Honey, Honey”
Sizzling fretwork and old-school crooning take the wheel on this folksy twang-fest. Come for the vocals, which are so entwined that it’s hard to determine which part is the melody and which is the harmony. Stay for the lyrics, which hint at the quirky, clever humor that fills these guys’ live performances.