If you look at the lineup for Lollapalooza 2011's headliners - Eminem, Foo Fighters, Coldplay, Muse, etc. - it doesn't exactly read like your standard folk music festival. But the folks at Lollapalooza seem to have surprisingly loaded the rest of the lineup with folk- and Americana-friendly acts. Should you - no doubt a folk and Americana superfan - find yourself at Lollapalooza this year, whether with your kids or your spouse, fear not. Here's a look at five artists who are sure to satisfy your discriminating taste.
1. Ryan Bingham & the Dead Horses
Probably best-known at this point for his involvement on the much-loved and lauded soundtrack to the film Crazy Heart, Ryan Bingham is also a rather well-respected songwriter beyond his soundtrack work. Together with his band the Dead Horses, he's become a bit of a darling of the Americana world, straddling that fine line between folk and country, nodding all the while to the outlaws who came before (Johnny, Merle, Waylon, etc.). Nonetheless, Bingham is much more singer-songwriter than he is polished Nashville product. Check him out at Lollapalooza and see what you think.
Playing: Sun., Aug. 7 - 2:15 p.m.
Listen/Download: "Bread and Water" (from Mescalito)
I caught Lissie for the first time on the Cayamo music cruise in 2010. Having never so much as heard her name before, I wandered into one of her sets at the bar and came away absolutely converted. There's a little bit of everything in Lissie's sound - from soul to pop to folk and beyond - making her a sure crowd pleaser for everyone in your Lollapalooza convoy this year. But, it's Lissie's remarkably strong vocals and introspective, poetic lyrics which will tug at the heartstrings of any fan of American roots music.
Playing: Sun., Aug. 7 - 4:30 p.m.
Listen/Download: "Oh Mississippi" (from Why You Runnin' EP)
3. Boy and Bear
Australia's Boy and Bear calls to mind a lot of the burgeoning indie folk bands cutting up the American music scene these days. Fans of Fleet Foxes, the Head and the Heart, the Avett Brothers, the Decemberists, and others in that ilk will cotton quickly and well to Boy and Bear. Clearly informed by the folk-rock of artists like Bob Dylan and the Byrds, Boy and Bear's music is hyper-focused on its intelligent lyricism and storytelling. They also place a heavy emphasis on harmonies and other vocal accompaniments.
Playing: Sun., Aug. 7 - 5 p.m.
Listen/Download: "House and Farm" (from Moonfire)
4. Bright Eyes
This band - led by singer-songwriter Conor Oberst - started as a sort of shoegaze indie band and has since become much more of an indie folk outfit. Informed, no doubt, by his side projects as Conor Oberst & the Mystic Valley Band and his collaborative effort with Monsters of Folk, Bright Eyes recently dropped a remarkable disc titled The People's Key. No doubt, they'll be pulling heavily from that disc. It's a rather topical effort, which is something it turns out Oberst is pretty good at. No doubt there will be some added energy to this set following recent political events.
Playing: Fri., Aug. 5 - 6:30 p.m.
Listen/Download: "Shell Games" (from The People's Key)
5. Delta Spirit
Delta Spirit is, decidedly, a rock and roll band. Their live show is simply electrifying - full of energy and rock and roll kicks. Lead singer Matthew Vasquez is charisma personified, and it might be hard at first glance to find the band's roots roots. But, if you listen closely, they're definitely there. If you're still not convinced, consider the band is signed to Rounder Records - one of the perennial favorites among folk and roots collectors. Fans may also know Vasquez from his decidedly folkier project Middle Brother. Regardless, they're sure to appeal to the edgier folk fans among you.
Playing: Fri., Aug. 5 - 2:15 p.m.
Listen/Download: "Salt in the Wound" (from History from Below)