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Bands to Watch

Alabama Shakes

Let it roll: Alabama Shakes deliver garage-flavored soul


The Alabama Shakes deliver funky garage soul from the small town of Athens, Ala. The group’s raw grooves are propelled by the dynamic vocals of front woman Brittany Howard, who lands somewhere between Janis Joplin and Aretha Franklin. The band was discovered by Drive-By Truckers leader Patterson Hood, who caught them performing in a local record store. After hooking them up with management, the Shakes have become a dominant force on the touring club circuit, selling out venues from coast to coast. Just last month, the band released their debut album, Boys and Girls. Catch them at the Hangout Music Festival and Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival.


This dynamic duo combines the roots of Appalachia with a traditional style of Mexican folk called Son Jarocho to create an aggressive hybrid of acoustic rock. Fiddler Suz Slezak grew up on a family farm in Central Virginia soaking in old-time mountain sounds, while her musical partner David Wax spent a fellowship year in Mexico during his time at Harvard studying old folk sounds. Together they’ve created a high-energy string concoction that has landed the group on big stages with the Avett Brothers. Catch them at FloydFest and the Bristol Rhythm and Roots Reunion.

David Wax
Cross-culture David Wax museum blend sounds of Appalachia with Mexican folk.


There’s a reason these guys—still in their early 20s—have already backed Jackson Browne and Robbie Robertson. The California-based indie phenoms have honed a down-easy brand of Americana that mixes the mellow gold of Lauren Canyon folk with the electric grit of The Band. On their sophomore album, last year’s Nothing is Wrong, front man Taylor Goldsmith delivers road-weary transient wisdom through his band’s pure vintage rock that’s accentuated by soaring harmonies and infectious melodies. It’s an honest formula, where the classic perfectly meets the present. Dawes will play the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival, as well as two special sets at FloydFest, including one backing Browne on the main stage, Thursday, July 26.


Colorado’s zany slam-grass heroes have only played sporadic shows—rarely on the East Coast—since going on an indefinite hiatus in 2004. This year, though, the group is set to play up to 50 gigs, including multiple appearances at regional festivals. Front man Vince Herman leads the group with plenty of crazy antics, while mandolin picker Drew Emmitt and new banjo player Andy Thorn shred notes with pants-on-fire precision, resulting in a wild mix of bluegrass, zydeco, and jam rock. Look for a new album later this year. They’ll appear at DelFest and FloydFest.


Cruz Conteras, the multi-instrumental force formally behind his ex-wife songstress Robinella, now fronts his own country-flavored crew. Flanked by fiddle and roadhouse electric guitar, Conteras’ heartbreak tunes are more pure than anything being manufactured by the suits in Nashville. It’s modern Americana crafted in a way that will make you find currency in country again. Catch them at the Lake Eden Arts Festival and the NC Brews and Music Festival.

For a full list of Festivals, click here!

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