Americana options at SXSW include a strong contingent of Austin acts


Austin always has been a hotbed for Americana music, and that’s reflected in this year’s South by Southwest selections. Here’s a dozen of the top country/folk/roots/etc. acts to catch this year, many of them based here or with local ties.

Old Crow Medicine Show. Following up a year in which they revisited Bob Dylan’s “Blonde on Blonde” album and did a CMT “Crossroads” special with pop star Kesha, the Old Crow crew is set to release a new album, “Volunteer,” in April. They’re the rare Americana act that has had platinum-level record sales, in addition to winning multiple Grammys. (11:35 p.m. March 15, Fair Market)

Kelly Willis. “Back to Being Blue,” due in May on Thirty Tigers, is Willis’s first solo record in more than a decade, though she’s hardly been absent in the interim. She made two widely acclaimed duo records with her husband, Bruce Robison, and she reunited for some shows with her early-years band Radio Ranch to coincide with the reissue of her 1990 debut album. The new album, recorded at Robison’s studio near Lockhart, includes six songs Willis wrote on her own. (10 p.m. March 16, Continental Club)

Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real. He had a record with pops Willie last year and he still tours with Neil Young, but Lukas Nelson really came into his own in 2017 with his own band’s self-titled album. Lukas has learned a lot from the company he’s kept, but he’s also developed his own distinct style and talent. (11:30 p.m. March 13, Gatsby)

READ MORE: Our interview with Lukas Nelson at ACL Fest 2017

Lost Brothers. The Irish duo of Oisin Leech and Mark McCausland are a half-dozen albums into a 10-year career that has bypassed hype and trends in favor of a clear and calm acoustic aesthetic. Shades of Simon & Garfunkel’s heyday arise at times on “Halfway Towards a Healing,” their new album recorded in Tucson with co-producer Howe Gelb of Giant Sand. (9 p.m. March 15, Velveeta Room; 9 p.m. March 16, Victorian Room at the Driskill)

Motel Mirrors. Former Austinite Will Sexton and his wife, Amy LaVere, are part of this Memphis band led by John Paul Keith, who first drew attention with 1990s alt-country band the Viceroys. Sexton produced the band’s upcoming record, “In the Meantime,” due out March 30 along with Keith’s new solo record “Heart Shaped Shadow.” 8 p.m. March 13, Saxon Pub)

David Ramirez. Fresh off an appearance at the Austin Music Awards, Ramirez is rapidly becoming one of the city’s most impressive and accomplished singer-songwriters, with a sound that straddles Americana and indie realms. Last year’s “We’re Not Going Anywhere,” which deftly merged personal and political concerns, was one of Austin’s best records of 2017. (11:45 p.m. March 14, Palm Door on Sixth)

Field Report. “Summertime Songs,” due out March 23 on Verve Forecast, is the third album from the Wisconsin quartet that first made a splash at SXSW in 2012. Leader Chris Porterfield, who was in Bon Iver’s early band DeYarmond Edison, works the same sort of melodically engaging roots-pop territory as bands such as Dawes and Counting Crows. (10 p.m. March 15, Swan Dive; noon March 15, Convention Center Radio Day Stage; 8 p.m. March 15, Continental Club)

Jaimee Harris. This spring will bring the long-awaited debut album from one of Austin’s most promising singer-songwriters to arise in years. Harris, who toured as a teen with her father in the Waco acoustic duo Better Off Dad, has played regularly at many of Austin’s best nightclubs, honing a batch of original songs that she recorded with noted Patty Griffin producer Craig Ross. (8 p.m. March 17, Victorian Room at the Driskill)

RELATED: Check out our guide to SXSW unofficial parties

Twain. From Virginia, Mat Davidson toured early on with acclaimed bands the Low Anthem and Annie & the Beekeepers before pursuing his own soulful and deeply affecting acoustic music under the name Twain. Austin label Keeled Scales released his album “Rare Feeling” last fall. (8 p.m. March 14, Barracuda; 1 a.m. March 17, Lamberts)

Beat Root Revival. Ben Jones and Andrea Magee relocated to Austin a few years ago from Britain, playing music that blends elements of their homeland’s folk traditions (Magee plays the handheld bodhran drum) with American pop songcraft. Beach Boys living-legend Brian Wilson chose them to open many dates on his 2017 tour. (8 p.m. March 14, Saxon Pub)

Juanita Stein. From Australia, Stein titled her 2017 debut album “America,” perhaps signaling that her brand of indie-folk had natural appeal for Americana fans. She’d previously gained renown in her home country fronting the indie-rock band Howling Bells. (9:45 p.m. March 15, Cooper’s BBQ; 9:40 p.m. March 16, Hotel Vegas)

Western Youth. Regulars on the Austin club circuit since their 2013 debut “Leaving the Station,” this six-piece band is fronted by Taylor Williams, who writes songs that strike squarely at the intersection of tuneful country and soulful rock ’n’ roll. A promising recent development is the addition of well-traveled Austin songwriter Graham Weber. The band’s second album is due out later this year. (Midnight March 13, 18th Over Austin)



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