Oh, Austin City Limits Festival is this weekend.
I’m not going.
The line-up is, let’s say, a little lackluster. Not that there aren’t wonderful and talented acts playing in Zilker Park this year. It’s just that, well, it’s about the same 15 bands who’ve been rotating the circuit for the past year (Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, Yeasayer, The XX) playing alongside their parents (Flaming Lips, Phish) and their grandparents (The Eagles, Sonic Youth). The advantage and disadvantage to living in the “Live Music Capital of the Universe” is that we get to see a lot of wonderful acts before they’re big. Then we see them again. And again.
So, in a desperate attempt to see what the heck else if playing at ACL, I checked out the music of the bands that appear, like the bottom row of an eye chart, in the finer print on the ACL line-up page. You know, the bands that play at 11AM on Friday. The shows you’d take your kids to if you had kids.
These guys and gals deserve some lovin’ too.
So if you find yourself at ACL early and not sure where to go, check out my list of what to see- starting from the very bottom of ACL’s line-up. My favorite picks are starred. I’ll have more of the line-up tomorrow.
Q Brothers– Interesting mix of pop, hip hop, techno, and show tunes. This duo from Santa Monica, CA sound a little kitschy, but their songs are funny and catchy. It seems strange that the Q Brothers are playing the kids’ stage since their bio claims they’ve created a successful off-Broadway show called “The Bomb-itty of Errors”, have done sketch/hip hop on MTV, and directed/starred in a movie for Showtime.
Sunday 2:30PM Austin Kiddie Limits Stage
School of Rock All Stars– A compilation of the best students from School of Rock performing some of their rock favorites. As you can guess, School of Rock is a school for kids to learn how to be rock stars. Originally started in Philadelphia in 1998, the school now has 64 locations all over the country, including here in Austin. Friday 11:30AM Austin Kiddie Limits Stage
*Tom Freund– Very nice and mellow singer-songwriter that brings to mind a little Paul Simon and a little alt-country. Something about him reminds me of driving out in West Texas with the top down at dusk.
Friday 3:30PM and Saturday 1:30PM Austin Kiddie Limits Stage (don’t let his playing at the kids’ stage fool you…he’s worth checking out)
Okee Dokee Brothers– If you’re into folksy-bluegrassy-Barenaked Ladies circa 1995 sounding stuff, then this Minneapolis band is for you.
Friday 2:30PM and Sunday 1:30PM Austin Kiddie Limits Stage
Elizabeth Mitchell– Folk singer who is known for her kids’ songs. I do not have kids and am only warming up to the idea of them as of lately, but her voice is beautiful?
Saturday 12:30PM and Sunday 12:30 Austin Kiddie Limits Stage
The Jellydots– Kind of a strange mix of pop, rock, reggae, and cutesy. Every song sounds dramatically different. These guys dub themselves Kindie Rockers- a phrase I had never heard of until right now. Saturday 11:30AM Austin Kiddie Limits Stage
Frances England– Another folk/family singer-songwriter. I’m sure she’s good. It’s just that my brain has shut off from listening to folksy-kids music. Like right now, all I hear is the parent-horn noises from “The Peanuts”. She’s got a fun graphic designer for her website, I can tell you that much though.
Saturday 2:30PM and Sunday 3:00PM Austin Kiddie Limits Stage
The Verve Pipe– Oh, there they are! “The Freshman” was kind of awesome. Looks like these guys have a new album out…all with childrens’ songs?!
Friday 1:30PM and Sunday 4:00PM Austin Kiddie Limits Stage
*Ruby Jane– Well, this Austin gal makes me feel like a failure. Not only does she have a beautiful twangy and sexy voice, is an amazing fiddler, boasts a resume that includes playing at the Grand Ole Opry and with her friend Willie Nelson, oh, and she is also SIXTEEN YEARS OLD. She is definitely worth checking out just to have your jaw drop.
Sunday 11:15AM BMI Stage
Buddy and The Straightway Travelers– These guys are Gospel singers from Terrell, Texas. Though I’m not a religious gal myself, there is nothing quite like gospel singers and their enthusiasm and positivity.
Sunday 11:30AM Clear 4G Stage
Ashley Cleveland and Kenny Greenberg– At first I was all like, “Yeah, she sounds a lot like Annie Lennox!” but then I started hearing words like “Judius” (see, I don’t even know how to spell it! Oh, it’s “Judas”) and “sins” and “Abraham” and I was confused. I didn’t realize there was a Christian stage at ACL. You learn something new every day.
Sunday 1:00PM Clear 4G Stage
*The Jones Family Singers– Another gospel group from Bay City, Texas. These guys have a little bit of a sexy-Jesus thing going on, so they get my vote.
Saturday 1:00PM Clear 4G Stage
Wesley Bray and The Disciples of Joy– Another great gospel band, this one from Austin, singin’s about lovin’ and prayin’ and wishin’ and definitely not drinkin’. This group also performs regularly at Stubb’s Gospel Brunch.
Friday 12:45PM Clear 4G Stage
Heavenly Voices-This gospel group started in 1988 at Baylor University by students and they do not turn away new singers. The group is 40 people strong and I guess they sing about someone named God, I’m not sure.
Saturday 11:30AM Clear 4G Stage
Gospel Stars– Again, learning new stuff all over the place here. I had no idea that gospel music was so popular at ACL. Very cool. A trio of bros who also sing at Stubb’s Gospel Brunch and have performed at ACL in the past.
Friday 11:30AM Clear 4G Stage
*Maxim Ludwig and The Santa Fe Seven– Since I’m a terrible reviewer and typically use statements like, “I’m not sure how the music sounded, but the lead singer was certainly dreamy”, I was going to try and refrain from such statements like that in this post. However, Maxim Ludwig is certainly one handsome fellow. This self-proclaimed Americana/Experimental/Gospel band hails from Silver Lake, Los Angeles, so you KNOW they know what they’re doing. Oh, and he likes one of my favorite authors, James Ellroy.
Sunday 12:20PM Austin Ventures Stage
Run With Bulls– Kind of a throw back rock group from Nashville. Not bad, but nothing new or exciting really.
Saturday 12:40PM BMI Stage
*SPEAK– What the f?! Another Austin band I’ve never heard of. I shouldn’t even be writing a music post here, I obviously don’t know anything. From what I’ve heard on Myspace, I dig this band. It’s super poppy and keyboardy just like I love it. Actually, now it’s making me get up and dance. They are super tight and polished. Very 80’s. Strangely they note Led Zeppelin as an influence, but they love Talking Heads.
Sunday 12:40PM BMI Stage
Caitlin Rose– Hard to pinpoint exactly. Falls in the realm of lovely ladies who aren’t quite country, folk, singer-songwriter, or rock. Her voice is a slightly off perfect and I think that characteristic gives her music an edge. Saturday 11:30AM BMI Stage
Two Tons of Steel– Pretty run of the mill rockabilly/country sort of thang. Not bad, but not mind-blowing either. Maybe I can watch them and just pretend that I’m listening to Chris Isaak circa 1990…rolling on the beach….with no shirt on…in sepia tones… Friday 11:15AM BMI Stage