Thursday, March 3, 2011

The 2011 Beale Street Music Festival Lineup: Annotated

Posted By on Thu, Mar 3, 2011 at 1:00 PM

The full lineup is out for this year's Beale Street Music Festival, which takes place Friday, April 29th through Sunday, May 1st at Tom Lee Park. It's being heralded by Memphis in May as "the biggest lineup ever." At the very least, it's certainly one of the most interesting and most contemporary lineups in a long time, blending the familiar mix of strong local, blues, jam-rock, and hard-rock acts with a better-than-usual blend of contemporary hip-hop/pop (Ludacris, Ke$ha) and alt/indie/roots-rock acts (Wilco, MGMT).

And if you watched last month's Grammy broadcast, you'll see lots of familiar faces, with four Grammy performers — Cee Lo, B.O.B., Mumford & Sons, the Avett Brothers — on the bill.

Three-day passes for the festival are on sale now. Single-day tickets go on sale starting at 2 p.m. today. For more information on ticketing, go here. For a full lineup and a stage-by-stage breakdown, keep reading. Set times have not been announced, but we do have the ordered lineups for each stage:

Friday:


Versatile Atlanta rapper B.O.B. will play the Bud Light Stage Friday night.
  • Versatile Atlanta rapper B.O.B. will play the Bud Light Stage Friday night.
Bud Light Stage: Free Sol, Cake, B.O.B., Jason Mraz
Early Read: Pop-inflected hip-hop (or is it hip-hop-inflected pop) alternates with rootsy pop-rock on this stage. It'll be interesting to see long-gestating locals Free Sol up on the big stage, but the best bet here might be engaging Atlanta rapper B.O.B. , who conquered the charts this year via collaborations with hitmaker Bruno Mars ("Nothin' On You"), Weezer's Rivers Cuomo ("Magic"), and Paramore's Hayley Williams ("Airplanes").


Horseshoe Casino Stage: Manchester Orchestra, Cage the Elephant, MGMT, Flaming Lips
Early Read: This stage will be alt-rock heaven Friday night, with relative newcomers Manchester Orchestra and the ascendant Cage the Elephant starting things off and veterans Flaming Lips — who had to cancel a scheduled set at last year's BSMF — capping it off. The flamboyant, theatrical Lips are definitely the safest live bet here, but most interesting might be seeing the Memphis-connected MGMT (lead singer Andrew VanWyngarden is a White Station High School grad and the son of Flyer editor Bruce VanWyngarden) in their biggest local setting yet. (Previous local MGMT shows were at the Hi-Tone Café and Minglewood Hall, respectively.)

Texas guitar hotshot Jimmie Vaughan headlines the FedEx Blues Tent — with some help — Friday night.
  • Texas guitar hotshot Jimmie Vaughan headlines the FedEx Blues Tent — with some help — Friday night.
MATCU Stage: Egypt Central, Everclear, Slightly Stoopid, Stone Temple Pilots
Early Read: The hard-rock contingent is always strong at the BSMF and will call this stage home on Friday. Egypt Central are the locals and the Stone Temple Pilots are the stars, but my pick hit here would be ’90s-era holdovers Everclear . Are they a little corny? Sure. But I don’t mind corny, and Art Alexis was one of the sharpest songwriters to rise out of the early ’90s grunge/alt-rock explosion. I bet songs like "Santa Monica," "So Much for the Afterglow," and "I Will Buy You a New Life" will sound fine.

FedEx Blues Tent: Will Tucker Band, Big Bill Morganfield, Tommy Castro, Jimmie Vaughan with Lou Ann Barton
Early Read: A very promising pairing of Texas roots/blues musicians — Jimmie Vaughan with Lou Ann Barton — headlines the blues tent Friday night. Guitar hotshot Vaughan (Stevie Ray's older brother) was a founding member of the Fabulous Thunderbirds, who paid homage to Memphis with their hit cover of Sam & Dave's "Wrap It Up." Barton, an Austin-based purveyor of Texas roadhouse blues, doesn't tour much. Blues fans won't want to miss this.


Saturday:

Cee Lo will perform his megabit F--- You — and, presumably, lots of other stuff too — on the Horseshoe Casino Stage Saturday night.
  • Cee Lo will perform his megabit "F—- You" — and, presumably, lots of other stuff too — on the Horseshoe Casino Stage Saturday night.
Bud Light Stage: Amy LaVere, Paul Thorn, Jerry Lee Lewis, Mumford & Sons, Lucinda Williams, John Mellencamp
Early Read: A rich, diverse, alt-country/roots-rock selection here. Brit folk-rockers Mumford & Sons are now Grammy-certified, headliner John Mellencamp can mix familiar hits with selections from his recent, partly Memphis-recorded No Better Than This, and Sun survivor Jerry Lee Lewis is a festival mainstay. But I'll enjoy seeing Memphis' Amy LaVere — prepping a new album — sharing the stage with Lucinda Williams , arguably the greatest folk/alt-country artist of her generation. Williams has at least a couple of classic albums under her belt —1988's Lucinda Williams and 1998's Car Wheels on a Gravel Road — and comes back this month with a new one, Blessed.

Horseshoe Casino Stage: One Less Reason, Sick Puppies, Hinder, 8Ball & MJG, Cee Lo, Ke$ha
Early Read: An interesting mix of rock, rap, and pop here. Local legends 8Ball & MJG are among the founding fathers of Southern rap, a fact that I guarantee you is not lost on Cee Lo, the hitmaking Atlanta crooner ("F—- You") who will follow them onto the stage and whose own Southern-rap background is probably not well known by many of his current fans. The headliner, mischievous Nashville pop tart Ke$ha, is both very popular and widely loathed. She will, at the least, be worth a look.


Neko Cases big pipes will be the highlight of Canadian indie-rockers the New Pornographers set Saturday on the MATCU Stage.
  • Neko Case's big pipes will be the highlight of Canadian indie-rockers the New Pornographer's set Saturday on the MATCU Stage.
MATCU Stage: Lotus, The Experimental Tropic Blues Band, The New Pornographers w/ Neko Case, Macy Gray, Kirk Whalum, Charlie Wilson
Early Read: A really diverse lineup here, ranging from jam-rock (Lotus) to international (honored country Belgium's Experimental Tropic Blues Band) to jazz (local sax star Kirk Whalum) to R&B (Macy Gray and Gap Band singer Charlie Wilson). But as intriguing as the Gray-Whalum-Wilson triumvirate is, I have to rep for indie rockers New Pornographers with Neko Case . Case has one of the great voices in contemporary music, and it comes across much better in the context of this Canadian band's hook-laden power pop than on her own more alt-countryish albums.


FedEx Blues Tent: Travis Wammack, Jimbo Mathus & the Tri-State Coalition, Devon Allman's Honeytribe, Reba Russell Band, Magic Slim & the Teardrops, Otis Clay
Early Read: Interesting local-connected bookends at the blues tent on Saturday: Memphis-bred guitar man Travis Wammack hit the charts as a teenager with his single "Scratchy" before moving on to be an ace session player at Muscle Shoals, Alabama's great Fame Studios. Chicago-based headliner Otis Clay made Memphis his home in the early ’70s, crafting a serious of terrific soul singles for Hi Records in Al Green's shadow.

Sunday:

Folk/alt-country band the Avett Brothers could steal the show Sunday night on the Horseshoe Casino Stage.
  • Folk/alt-country band the Avett Brothers could steal the show Sunday night on the Horseshoe Casino Stage.
Bud Light Stage: Drowning Pool, The Experimental Tropic Blues Band, Saving Abel, Buckcherry, Godsmack
Early Read: Another hard-rock stage that satisfies an important core audience that is not me. A good chance to check out our Belgian visitors Experimental Tropic Blues Band if you missed them on Saturday.


Horseshoe Casino Stage: Amos Lee, Lucero, Gregg Allman, The Avett Brothers, Wilco
Early Read: A strong roots/alt-country lineup. Headliners Wilco might be the most respected American band of the past decade and will sound great in this setting. Locals Lucero are always a safe bet. The sleeper here is the North Carolina-via-Brooklyn folk-rock band The Avett Brothers , who followed 2009's terrific I And Love And You with a good 2010 live album (Live, Vol. 3) and got a nice boost with a strong Grammy performance alongside fellow BSMF newbies Mumford & Sons and some guy named Bob Dylan.


Rap star Ludacris follows local Al Kapone on the MATCU Stage Sunday night.
  • Rap star Ludacris follows local Al Kapone on the MATCU Stage Sunday night.
MATCU Stage: J.J. Grey & Mofro, Ziggy Marley, Al Kapone, Ludacris, Sublime with Rome
Early Read: A mix of jam, reggae, ska, and rap that should blend nicely. Local hero Al Kapone will draw an appreciative crowd that will be happy to stay around for charismatic Atlanta rapper Ludacris , who also has a local connection of sorts from his role in Craig Brewer's partly Kapone-scored Hustle & Flow.


FedEx Blues Tent: The Lee Boys, Hubert Sumlin, John Hammond, Preston Shannon, Bettye Lavette
Early Read: Aging guitar legend Hubert Sumlin and Beale stalwart Preston Shannon are sure shots, but how about the blues tent bookends on Sunday? Florida's Lee Boys are a terrific sacred-steel ensemble, while soul-blues belter Bettye Lavette has had a very, very good comeback decade.

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