5 New Artists You Need to Know from Bonnaroo 2014
Tennessee’s Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival is known not only for its wide variety of famous headlining acts — this year’s included Kanye West, Jack White, and Elton John — but also for the many opportunities the festival offers smaller, up-and-coming acts from a range of genres. New musicians that get to play Bonnaroo gain invaluable exposure just from being listed on the lineup. Smaller stages are set up around the festival grounds that give fans an opportunity to relax between bigger sets and catch a new band that they might not have heard of, but that could very well end up playing one of Bonnaroo’s larger stages in the future. Checking out a set at the Sonic Stage or Cafe Where is the Bonnaroovians’ opportunity to say they saw a band play an intimate set right before they got big. Here’s a list of five promising new acts Wall St. Cheat Sheet saw at the thirteenth annual Bonnaroo this year.
ZZ Ward’s blues and hip-hop infused pop music stole the show at Bonnaroo on the typically-slow Thursday, and she played a more intimate, acoustic set on Friday afternoon as well. Ward’s vintage-feel calls to mind singers like Joss Stone, Adele, and Amy Winehouse; all women who put their own unique twist on older musical styles. Ward’s debut album, Til The Casket Drops, came out in late 2012 and the singer has toured almost non-stop since with a show that sees her showing off her guitar and harmonica skills alongside a killer band.
“My genre of music that I’m kind of into is hip-hop, blues, for the most part, and I kind of mix the two together,” she said in an interview with Wall St. Cheat Sheet at the festival. “So in the future I would like to do more of that. That’s who I am, that’s what I love, so if I can continue to, you know, go along that path, which I think was a lot for people to kind of figure out at first because it was so different… Now it’s kind of who I am so now I don’t have to fight as hard.”
The Black Cadillacs
Alternative Southern rockers The Black Cadillacs didn’t have to travel far from their hometown of Knoxville, Tennessee, to get to Bonnaroo, and they brought with them the energy needed to catch the attention of crowds that didn’t necessarily know who they were going in. Of course, throwing beers out into the sweltering audience in a place where beer was marked up to $7 a can helped, too.
The group’s country and blues infused rock and roll has gained them comparisons to the Rolling Stones and the White Stripes. The Black Cadillacs embrace good, old-fashioned rock and roll in every aspect of their music, from their performances that don’t use props or choreography or other weird schticks, just five guys rocking out, to their preferred method of gaining fans – performing like crazy and word-of-mouth. The band told Relix magazine earlier this year that they are looking to get back in the studio to record a new album as soon as possible, and they’re set to continue touring around the country through the summer.
Lily & The Parlour Tricks
This New York band may be a bit hard to categorize, but it would be fair to say that they brought a bit of something for almost anyone. Brian Kesley’s bass grooves and Terry Moore’s drum rhythms were tight and would give anyone something to jam along with. On the other side of the stage, Angelo Spagnolo’s guitar playing can be as unpredictable as it is surprisingly fitting with the mood of the songs, whether he’s riffing away like any other guitarist or introducing unusual hardware to his strings. Then there’s the front row, composed of Morgane Moulherat, Darah Golub, and frontwoman Lily Claire. The group offers fun little dances, hard-hitting harmonies, and all-around good sound. Lily leads the vocals and does so not only with power, but with emotion that carries through from each song’s words, and at the same time she displays as much emotion with her eyes for a performance that is almost equal parts visual and audio.
Lily & The Parlour Tricks’ songs can range from playful to deep, dark, and brooding, and they have more on the way. Though from New York, the band is working on some new recordings in Nashville with producer Emery Dobyns. They will also continue touring, appearing at Summerfest and more. If you get a chance to seem them and enjoy it, keep an eye out for those new recordings, as they are set for release this year.
First Aid Kit
First Aid Kit consists of Swedish sisters Johanna, 23, and Klara, 21, Söderberg, who though they may be from the country most famous (musically, anyway) for spawning ABBA, are steeped in the traditional country and Americana styles of the U.S. First Aid Kit rose to fame internationally when their cover of the Fleet Foxes’ “Tiger Mountain Peasant Song” went viral, which led to attention from Jack White — they recorded a single on his Third Man Records — and Conor Oberst.
At Bonnaroo, the sisters owned their love for American music by covering Paul Simon’s “America” as well as Bob Dylan’s Desire classic “One More Cup of Coffee” during their set. They joked about their propensity for playing sad songs and had charming enough stage banter to pull the afternoon audience through some of the heavier material. Their most recent album, Stay Gold, was released on Columbia this month. Given their young age, the popularity of the new-folk movement, and the endorsement from some very well-respected musicians, First Aid Kit seem to have a bright future ahead of them.
Rhiannon Giddens is best known as the lead singer of the string band the Carolina Chocolate Drops who stole the show at the T Bone Burnett-curated concert Another Day, Another Time, which brought together a litany of well-respected folk musicians to pay tribute to New York City’s folk music scene of the 1960s, as seen in the Coen brothers film Inside Llewyn Davis. The New York Times called her “the concert’s real head-turner” at an event that also included folk heavyweights like Joan Baez, Gillian Welch, and the Avett Brothers for her cover of Odetta’s “Water Boy” and two Gaelic pieces, songs that she also performed with the Drops at Bonnaroo.
Her involvement with Another Day, Another Time led to a solo record with Burnett that Giddens told Wall St. Cheat Sheet in an interview at Bonnaroo is almost finished. “Well the material that I chose for it… most of it is material that was either sort of covered definitely by a woman I admire or was written by a woman. So we’re doing a Dolly Parton song, a song Patsy Cline sang, a Nina Simone song, a song Sister Rosetta Tharpe sang and popularized, um, Jean Ritchie… Ethel Waters… So it’s a real, kind of a survey of Americana, women in Americana… from the earlier part of the Twentieth century,” Giddens said of the upcoming album.
More from Wall St. Cheat Sheet:
- 9 Things You Missed At Bonnaroo 2014
- Best of Bonnaroo: Jack White’s Blues-Rock Explosion
- Up-and-Comer ZZ Ward Talks the Blues at Bonnaroo
Follow Jacqueline on Twitter @Jacqui_WSCS
Additional reporting from Mark Knapp @WallStMarkSheet