Hailing from the bohemian college town of Athens, Futurebirds plays laid-back country-rock with an atmospheric, psychedelic twist. The group began turning heads with the release of a self-titled EP, and their backwoods harmonies and pedal steel riffs helped earn a contract with Autumn Tone Records. They released their most recent album with Fat Possum Records.
David Wax Museum, Charlottesville, Va.
David Wax and Suz Slezak front the David Wax Museum, and together with their band they fuse traditional Mexican folk with indie rock and American roots to create a Mexo-Americana aesthetic. Combining Latin rhythms, infectious melodies and call-and-response hollering, DWM was hailed by TIME for its "virtuosic musical skill and virtuous harmonies."
Roadkill Ghost Choir, Deland, Fla.
Emerging fully formed from the desolate heart of central Florida, Roadkill Ghost Choir makes unsettling, powerful American rock (think Tom Petty by way of Radiohead and Cormac McCarthy.) Set against Kiffy Meyer's ghostly steel pedal, singer and main songwriter Andrew Shepard triumphantly conjures an allegorical American landscape of drifters, specters and violent saints. Andrew's brothers Maxx (drums) and Zach (bass) round out the rhythm section, and Stephen Garza handles lead guitar.
T. Hardy Morris, Athens
In the summer of 2013, Morris released his first solo album, "Audition Tapes," shooting 10 videos, one for each track on the album, in conjunction with the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation at many of the state's "Places In Peril." Morris is best known for his work with Dead Confederate, a band he co-founded and has recorded and toured with since 2006. More recently, Morris formed Diamond Rugs, the raggedly righteous gang of rockers that also includes members of Deer Tick, The Black Lips and Los Lobos.
Packway Handle, Athens
The five members of Packway Handle have wowed audiences for more than a decade with near-perfect four-part harmonies and seemingly boundless on-stage synergy. Over the years the band has evolved as a premier gather-around-the-mic act. Their performance is focused around a tight cluster of microphones surrounded by an arsenal of acoustic and electric instruments: banjo, fiddle, mandolin, acoustic and electric guitar, upright and electric bass, and an ever-changing array of percussive accessories. Packway's sound is steeped in old-fashioned bluegrass, but they hold a niche in the American music realm that's all their own.
Cedric Burnside Project, Nashville
Cedric was born and raised in Holly Springs, Miss. At the age of 13, he began touring around the world playing drums with his grandfather, north Mississippi blues legend R.L. Burnside, also known as "Big Daddy." The now duo creates a new genre of music by infusing Mississippi Hill country blues, funk, R&B and soul that will keep your foot stomping all night long. Burnside also just won the 2014 Blues Music Award for Drummer of the Year. This is the fourth time he has won this prestigious award.
Dirty Bourbon River Show, New Orleans
Dirty Bourbon River Show, one of New Orleans' most imaginative ensembles, spins its talent and whimsy into an offbeat musical frenzy unlike any other. With a larger-than-life and relentlessly energetic stage presence, Dirty Bourbon River Show ensnares audiences with eccentric performances and a wealth of up-tempo original material. Described by one reviewer as "a circus-like barrage of sound serving as entrance music for a magical mystery tour of whiskey-soaked French Quarter back alleys" (Offbeat Magazine), the band continues to surprise audiences with a rock-infused gypsy sound, all laid atop the foundation of the Big Easy brass band tradition.
Megan Jean & The KFB, Charleston
Inventive percussion, electrified banjo and a voice like the devil herself have earned Megan Jean and the KFB a dedicated following all over the East Coast. Calling the road home on a "never-ending tour," this transient married duo has taken its nomadic musical lifestyle and transformed it into a kind of voodoo that unites scenes, fans and musical styles. This is a band that lives to perform and is fueled by sheer guts and know-how.
Family & Friends, Athens
As these things so often do, Family & Friends began as a lowly seedling of inspiration. One became six, a collective of musicians by trade, lovers by spirit. Inspired by a life worth living, the Fam and Pals remained rooted with three ambitions in heart, mind and soul: the people, the music, the memories. The reflection represented a blend of earnest folk rock and a communal spirit pouring a collective heart into something bigger than itself; an intangible force of an unfaltering love worth giving away.
Water Liars, Oxford, Miss.
If you haven't listened to Water Liars, let the music be your introduction. Is it important to know that Bryant is from Mississippi and Kinkel-Schuster is from Arkansas, that they're shaped by the writers whose influence shines through in everything they make - Frank Stanford and Barry Hannah especially - and that their pain is the pain of the wretched and beautiful South? Sure, and it's all there in the songs.
Blank Range, Nashville
Blank Range is an American rock 'n' roll band living in Nashville. With nods to great things present and past, the band stands tall as a unit and collapse wildly together in song and onstage.
Velvet Caravan, Savannah
Velvet Caravan is one of the most unusual ensembles in the music business. Combining gypsy, honky-tonk, swing and Latin, this band plays upbeat tunes from all over the world with thunderous virtuosity and relentless sense of humor. Bringing together the eclectic sounds are a motley crew of super talented musicians that draw their roots from Venezuela, Serbia, Austin, Boston and Southern Georgia.
Waits & Co., Savannah
Waits & Co. is an original, acoustic-based alt-country/Americana band from Savannah rooted in the Southern experience. Jon Waits (singer/songwriter), Markus Kuhlmann (multi-instrumentalist) and Coy Campbell (upright bass) are the primary players, with many other notable local pickers and players regularly sitting in. They pull their sound from the overgrown cemeteries in the middle of picked-through cotton fields, to the salt marsh mornings of the Lowcountry.
Sweet Thunder Strolling Band, Savannah
A Savannah collaborative upstart consisting of local musicians will welcome festival goers at 12:30 p.m. with a special performance. Spearheaded by percussionist Andrew Hartzell, this collective grew out of a performance at the Flannery O'Connor Birthday Celebration in the spring, and features Anna Chandler, Phillip Reynolds Price and other local musicians to be announced. Be sure to catch additional surprises from them throughout the day.