MagazineApril 201520 Bands to Watch

20 Bands to Watch


People’s Blues of Richmond

Richmond, Va.
Things get heavy with this psychedelic rock power trio that blends the power of Deep Purple with the quirk of Modest Mouse. A ripping live show has earned these upstarts recent support gigs with JJ Grey & Mofro and J. Roddy Walston & the Business.


Chapel Hill, N.C.
The title of this fresh-faced newgrass quartet’s latest album Dark Holler Pop sums up its sound: a solid foundation in traditional picking mingled with the indie sensibilities of Nickel Creek.

Erin and the Wildfire

Charlottesville, Va.
The soulful vocals of front woman Erin Lunsford lead this quartet that sonically mingles bluesy roots rock with vintage R&B grooves. A contest win earned the group a stage spot at last fall’s Lockn’ Music Festival.

The Honeycutters

Asheville, N.C.
With a soothing voice steeped in heartache, singer Amanda Anne Platt fronts this acoustic quintet that plays authentic honky tonk tunes brimming with the influence of living in Appalachia. The band’s latest album, me oh my, drops on April 21.

The Black Cadillacs

Knoxville, Tenn.
These Knoxville indie rockers keep gaining fans with tight song craft and a versatile sound that moves between soulfully restrained and wildly anthemic.

Matthew E. White

Richmond, Va.
The multi-talented White started the independent label Spacebomb Records and led the lauded avant-garde jazz ensemble Fight the Big Bull. Lately he’s become indie famous for his solo work, which includes the new relaxed soul-rock effort Fresh Blood.

American Aquarium

Raleigh, N.C.

Fans of the Drive-By Truckers and Lucero should take notice of this gritty alt-country act from Raleigh. If you need an endorsement, Jason Isbell produced the group’s 2012 album Burn.Flicker.Die, but its best work just came out in the recently released Wolves. Front man BJ Barham kicked the bottle and poured out gritty confessions draped in distorted twang.

Folk Soul Revival

Wise, Va.
This hardworking Americana outfit from Virginia coal country plays a rowdy, roots-swirling brand of acoustic rock, bringing in elements of delta blues and vintage country that complement the gritty soulful vocals from lead singer Daniel Davis.


Nelson County, Va.
This electric country-rock side project features Travis Book, bassist for The Infamous Stringdusters, and his successful singer-songwriter wife Sarah Siskind.

Chamomile and Whiskey

Nelson County, Va.
This group’s boisterous mountain rock covers plenty of territory in the roots music landscape, moving deftly between old-time foot-stompers, gritty gypsy jams, and hard-edged country punk.

this mountain

Johnson City, Tenn.
An easy sell for fans of My Morning Jacket, this roots-driven outfit has a sound that moves deftly between mellow alt-country and full-on distorted twang rock—all tied together with layered harmonies that add a soulful edge.


Annapolis, Md.
This Maryland duo plays down-and-dirty acoustic blues, paying homage to hill country heroes like Junior Kimbrough. The group’s relentless attack of gritty slide guitar and stomping beats was impressive enough to take first place at last year’s On the Rise competition at FloydFest.

Jim White vs The Packway Handle Band

Athens, Ga.
Members of newgrass outfit Packway Handle Band teamed up with underground psychedelic folk bard Jim for Take It Like A Man, a collaborative string-band set filled with White’s patented sublime strangeness.

Kyle James Hauser

Louisville, Ky.
Like fellow Kentucky-based versatile stringed songwriter Ben Sollee, the banjo-toting Hauser possess a haunting soulful voice that delivers open-hearted lyrics about love and loss.

Gill Landry

Nashville, Tenn.
A Louisiana native, Landry spends most of his time these days in a supporting role as a member of Old Crow Medicine Show. The self-titled effort is a dusty singer-songwriter set that’s highlighted by compelling introspection and a hint of Cajun mood.

Lee Baines III & The Glory Fires

Birmingham, Ala.

Formerly of the Dexateens, Baines has put together a new crew to deliver Southern-fried garage rock filled with epic hooks and plenty of distorted twang.

Annabelle’s Curse

Bristol, Va.

The border town indie folk quintet blends soaring vocal harmonies with literate introspection akin to the Decemberists.

Mandolin Orange

Chapel Hill, N.C.

This acoustic duo delivers poignant progressive folk tunes that draw on a range of influences, including early Appalachian mountain songs and vintage country ballads.

Emily Hearn

Athens, Ga.

Hearn got a big notoriety push after funnyman Bill Murray appeared in the video for her sunny pop song “Rooftop” back in 2010. Only 24, the Athens songstress is ripe for a breakout with her latest album Hourglass.


Richmond, Va.

Jam band tangents meet nimble-fingered picking in this new collaboration between Brock Butler of Perpetual Groove and Americana outfit James Justin & Co.

Places to Go, Things to See: