Festival Season


Portugal. The Man

Portugal. The Man

Hangout at The Hangout.

by John D

 

Yes, it is that time of year again: All of the big music  festivals are announcing their lineups. Given unlimited time and money, many of us would just bounce from festival to festival, but if you are anything like me, you have more time than money and probably don’t have much time.  That means I have to be judicious with my music festival budget. I don’t want to spend a lot of time traveling, and I want the most “bang for my buck.” The answer? The Hangout Music Festival (May 16–18 in Gulf Shores, Ala.) I was very surprised when I saw their lineup.  I would say it definitely meets the “bang for the buck” qualification. The Black Keys, a reunited Outkast (Andre and Big Boi have launched their comeback with an appearance at just about every festival taking place this year), The Killers, and Jack Johnson are the main headliners. One of my favorite bands, Queens of the Stone Age (who also happened to have one of my favorite albums of 2013), Portugal. the Man, and Fitz and the Tantrums are some unbelievable live acts. Even the smaller acts (Valerie June, Bronze Radio Return, Wild Belle, Los Colognes, and John Jacob) are wise choices on the promoter’s part, as these are groups that are definitely on their way up. It is one of the best lineups I have seen the folks at the Hangout put together, and you should seriously think about heading to the beach for this festival this year.

 

The Killers

The Killers

Now that we have a weekend in May covered for music, let us focus on what is happening here in Birmingham in February. Starting off with WorkPlay, we have Lord Huron playing a Valentine’s Day show (that is the 14th for all of the forgetful folks out there.) Lord Huron played the inaugural Cask and Drum last October, and they blew me away. Their debut album, Lonesome Dreams, a mix of folk and high plains lament, should have put them much more squarely in the public’s eye, but they are still a band on the verge. Another folk group, Shovels & Rope, will be stopping by on February 28th. The band has grown tremendously since they first played Birmingham (Harry’s Coffee House @ Samford University) and this show (in the much bigger soundstage) will definitely sell out. Actually, I am predicting both will sell out, so get your tickets now.

Iron City has Black Joe Lewis (formerly Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears) stopping by on the February 13th. Blues, soul, and funk all wrapped up in a tight little package. The band has been together since 2007, and it shows. They are solid, and the music is just plain fun, so make plans to attend if you like to let the music move you. The gentle ginger giant Brett Dennen is booked for February 20th. I met Dennen once, and he is incredibly nice and appears to really enjoy being able to play and share his blend of pop/folk with fans.

The Alys Stephens Center has announced their winter/spring lineup, and although they are more well-known for classical and the like, they have booked some solid shows (bluesman Taj Mahal in March, Steve Martin and Edie Brickell in June). On February 14th blues journeyman Robert Cray performs. I have been a fan of Cray’s since the mid-nineties, and he is as good as it gets. Cray is known more for moving the blues along than being a straight traditionalist, and the chance to catch him at a venue like the Alys Stephens is a no-brainer.

Joe Pug

Joe Pug

The Bottletree, Birmingham’s smaller but very well-respected venue, has some great shows lined up for February. If singer/songwriters are your thing, you will need to check out Joe Pug on 2/4.  Pug has built a solid following touring and opening for well-known acts and is now starting to tour as a headliner himself. He will be bringing Austin-based indie folk player David Ramirez as his opener.

Sebadoh stops by Bottletree on 2/10. They released an album last year—their first in 14 years. Member Lou Barlow is also the base player for Dinosaur Jr and fans of the lo-fi indie rock genre should check out this show.

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