Those Pretty Wrongs
Those Pretty Wrongs feature Jody Stephens of Big Star and Luther Russell. The band's debut album is out later in May via Burger Records, the hip California label that started as a cassette label and has morphed into a West Coast institution. Fans of Big Star, take note.
Blackberry Smoke have blown up over the last few years, touring with the Zac Brown Band and having their music featured on the EA Sports video game Madden NFL 16. Their fourth studio album Holding all the Roses debuted at No. 1 on the Top Country Albums Chart, and their fan base just keeps growing. Expect this set to get rowdy.
A side project of Black Keys vocalist Dan Auerbach, the Arcs bind soul and psychedelic rock to create something similar to EL VY or the Districts. Unlike, but not far from, the Black Keys, Auerbach's new band relies more on rhythm than the blues. Their latest single, "Lake Superior," was inspired by the Netflix documentary series Making a Murderer.
Cold War Kids
Cold War Kids have actively toured and cranked out piano-driven pop songs since 2004. Most likely, you'll be singing along to a slew of songs you didn't know you knew.
Beck is back, only this time he'll be at Tom Lee Park instead of the Mud Island Amphitheatre. The Los Angeles singer/songwriter always puts on a great show, and his collaboration with Jay Reatard was proof that while Beck is definitely big time, he still keeps his ear to the underground. Anyone who was at his Mud Island show knows that Beck is not to be missed.
The Lone Bellow
Brooklyn's Lone Bellow bring their alt-country to a festival audience that knows a thing or two about the genre, but that shouldn't stop the band from kicking off a great lineup on the Rockstar Energy Stage. The band's latest album, 2015's Then Came the Morning, was released on Descendant Records, a subsidiary of Sony Music Entertainment.
Lesbian folk rockers Amy Ray and Emily Saliers have been besties since elementary school, and they began performing together when they were in high school. Since then, they've released 14 albums (the latest release came last year) and have remained politically involved in all sorts of causes ranging from LGBT equality and environmental protection to Native American rights and protesting the death penalty.
Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats
There might not be a festival more fit for Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats than Beale Street Music Fest. Something reminiscent of the Stax sound is ingrained in their music, and the Night Sweats provide the palette for a pensive Rateliff to wail over. Do not miss this band.
Paul Simon has been a hit factory since the '60s, cranking out songs like "Mrs. Robinson," "The Sounds of Silence," and "Bridge Over Troubled Water." He was awarded the first Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song in 2007 and has written music for Broadway and television. He's been on Saturday Night Live 14 times and has 12 Grammy awards, making him one of the most successful artists on the entire Music Fest lineup.
The Band Camino
These Memphians might be unknown now, but if they keep landing spots on music festival main stages, they may not be underground for long. Look for a debut album from the Band CAMINO sometime this summer.
Alex Da Ponte
Alex da Ponte just released her latest album, and the local artist is one of many worth catching over Music Fest weekend. On All My Heart, da Ponte wears her emotions on her sleeve, making for an earnest and honest album that will get stuck in your head after only a couple listens. Her song "Nevermind" is already a local hit, but don't expect da Ponte to stay local for long.
The Joy Formidable
Welsh alt-rockers the Joy Formidable recently released their third album, Hitch, and the band has a knack for recreating some of the things that made '90s alt rock so memorable.
Courtney Barnett had a spectacular 2015 due to her amazing album Sometimes I Sit and Think and Sometimes I Just Sit. We had her album and her Third Man Records single as some of our favorites of the year, so we'll take credit for this one. You're welcome.
British indie rock powerhouse Bastille have sold over 5 million records, and their follow-up album to 2013's Bad Blood is highly anticipated. With millions of fans across the globe, Bastille are definitely one of the biggest bands performing this weekend.
Russian-born/German-raised electro-house DJ Anton Zaslavski (better known as Zedd) has made a name for himself in the EDM scene by combining the beat-driven nature of house music with catchy pop melodies and lyrics by popular artists, such as Selena Gomez, Foxes, and Paramore lead singer Hayley Williams. The Grammy winner's late-night performance will likely turn Tom Lee Park into a giant rave, so bring the glowsticks.
Barbara Blue 2:15 p.m.
Barbara Blue, the reigning queen of Beale Street, is a Beale Street Music Fest institution. She's also the woman behind the piano at Silky O'Sullivan's almost every night of the week. Simply put, a downtown show isn't complete without a Barbara Blue appearance.
Brandon Santini 3:45 p.m.
Brandon Santini purchased his first harmonica at the age of 15 at a music store in Piedmont, North Carolina. Engulfed in the blues, Santini studied harp legends like James Cotton and Kim Wilson of the Fabulous Thunderbirds. After founding his band Delta Highway in 2003, Santini relocated to Memphis, where he became a regular performer on Beale Street. With three albums under his belt, Santini and his band continue to inject a fresh spirit into the Delta blues.
John Primer 5:20 p.m.
When it comes to no-frills blues music, John Primer gets it done and does it well. No surprise why — Primer learned slide guitar from Muddy Waters' sideman Sammy Lawhorn. A steward of the Chicago blues, Primer has played with the likes of Waters, Willie Dixon, and Magic Slim.
John Németh 6:55 p.m.
Boise, Idaho, bluesman John Németh relocated to Memphis in 2013 and linked up with Scott Bomar at Electraphonic Recording, where he immediately began cutting an album. His latest record, 2015's Memphis Grease, was named the "Best Soul Blues" album by the Blues Music Awards.
Bernard Allison 8:30 p.m.
Influenced by the likes of Jimi Hendrix and Stevie Ray Vaughan, as well as older players like Lightnin' Hopkins and B.B. King, Bernard Allison grew up with the blues thanks to his dad, Chicago bluesman Luther Allison. Allison has been at it since 1990, releasing over 15 albums of his signature style of electric blues.