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Sunday, May 6th Band Listings

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Billy Lee Riley

Cellular South Stage

2 p.m.

Born across the river in Pocohontas, Arkansas, Billy Lee Riley remains one of the wildest rockers to have ever sprung from Memphis' own Sun Records. As talented on the blues harmonica as he is on rockabilly guitar, Riley and his combo — the Little Green Men — made their mark as the house band for Sam Phillips' Sun label. Although he never hit as big as Elvis or Jerry Lee Lewis, Riley's original tunes like "Flying Saucer Rock 'n' Roll" and "Red Hot" are considered landmarks of the rockabilly genre to this day, while Riley remains a consummate performer and a perennial crowd pleaser who never fails to delight audiences at the Beale Street Music Festival.

Umphrey's McGee

Cellular South Stage

3:30 p.m.

This is not your typical jam band: Expect Midwesterners Umphrey's McGee to channel Frank Zappa or King Crimson at the Beale Street Music Fest this weekend. The group, which formed as a quartet at Notre Dame a decade ago, now boasts six members, including guitarist/lead vocalist Brendan Bayliss and keyboard player Joel Cummins. Consummate live performers who often play songs by Toto, Snoop Dogg, and Metallica onstage, they cut their first studio album, Local Band Does O.K., in 2002, laying down favorite tunes such as "Andy's Last Beer" and "Headphones and Snowcones" for CD-starved fans before heading off to Bonnaroo. Clever songwriting skills and precision-based choruses have sustained Umphrey's McGee through three more indie albums, including Bottom Half, a double-disc compilation released last month.

Guster

Cellular South Stage

5:15 p.m.

When jangly alt-rock group Guster formed in 1991, co-founders Ryan Miller, Adam Gardner, and Brian Rosenworcel favored acoustic guitars and bongo drums over a typical rock setup. Over the years, however, the band has evolved its performance, adding a drum kit and another musician, multi-instrumentalist Joe Pisapia. Based in Boston, Guster inked a contract with Sire Records in '98, releasing popular albums such as Goldfly, Keep It Together, and Ganging Up on the Sun. Mainstays on the college circuit (alongside similar acts such as Widespread Panic and moe.), the band excels at self-promotion efforts, playing hits such as "Fa Fa" and "Amsterdam" on up to 250 dates a year. When Guster rolls up to Tom Lee Park this weekend, their tour bus might smell like French fries: Recently, Gardner, the band's guitarist, launched an environmentally savvy organization called Reverb, which promotes energy-saving touring practices such as recycling and using biodiesel fuel.

Barenaked Ladies

Cellular South Stage

7 p.m.

Over the last two decades, Toronto's Barenaked Ladies have evolved from a quirky alternative group to idiosyncratic, award-winning rock stars. The quintet, initially branded a one-trick pony, signed to Sire Records in 2002, releasing a full-length, Gordon, and three hit singles, "Enid," "Be My Yoko Ono," and "If I Had a $1,000,000." With the release of subsequent albums Maybe You Should Drive and Born on a Pirate Ship, Barenaked Ladies picked up steam, even appearing on an episode of Beverly Hills 90210 while performing their hit "The Old Apartment." Witty songwriters (think They Might Be Giants combined with Paul McCartney's sillier fare) and energetic pop purveyors, the group has released nine studio albums to date, including the hilarious Barenaked Ladies Are Men, released earlier this year. Their zany, humorous numbers really shine live, as frontmen/lifelong friends Ed Robertson and Steven Page use the moments between songs to display their improvisational mastery.

Counting Crows

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Cellular South Stage

8:45 p.m.

One of the most promising breakout acts of the mid-1990s, Counting Crows have foundered, but never really fallen, in recent years. Fans still rave about their first hit single, "Mr. Jones," off their 1993 effort August and Everything After, while frontman Adam Duritz has made a name for himself working with alt-country pin-up Ryan Adams. Although Counting Crows haven't debuted any new material since penning the Shrek 2 hit "Accidentally in Love," their 15-track live album, entitled New Amsterdam: Live at Heineken Music Hall, proved that they're worthy contenders today. Hopefully, the Van Morrison-inspired band will forage from the same set list for material this weekend, unearthing anomalies such as "Richard Manuel Is Dead" among the sure-fire crowd pleasers like "Perfect Blue Buildings" and "Rain King."

Companyia Electrica Dharma

Budweiser Stage

2:10 p.m.

Founded in Catalonia, Spain, more than 30 years ago, Companyia Elèctrica Dharma is one of the most popular traditional groups in Europe. Brothers Esteve, Joan, and Josep Fortuny have parlayed regional Mediterranean and Catalan styles into a formidable Iberian rock group that includes a standard rhythm section, electric guitar, and synthesizers, plus a soprano sax that sounds like the Catalan tenora. With more than 17 CDs in their back catalog, C.E.D. — comparable to a progressive jazz fusion band — have yet to break into the American market, although the group does receive airplay on eclectic, independent radio stations like New York's WFMU.

Ann Peebles

Budweiser Stage

3:55 p.m.

The sun had better be shining when Ann Peebles sings "I Can't Stand the Rain" this weekend. After all, even Mother Nature ought to respect the tiny, huge-voiced soul singer who first sang the song in South Memphis' Royal Recording Studio nearly 35 years ago. A flawless vocalist, Peebles has often been declared "the female Al Green" — in fact, she worked with the same producer, Hi Records' Willie Mitchell, years before Green came down the pike. Today, the diminutive singer and her husband, fellow Hi veteran Don Bryant, choose to focus their talents on gospel music, although this Sunday, Peebles is sure to pull out all the stops on her classic hits "99 Lbs.," "Walk Away," and the unforgettable "I'm Gonna Tear Your Playhouse Down." Of course, savvy hip-hop fans will be listening for "I Can't Stand the Rain," which has been sampled by everyone from Missy Elliott to the Wu-Tang Clan.

Edwin McCain

Budweiser Stage

5:30 p.m.

Since splitting from Atlantic Records in 2001, Edwin McCain has focused on his songwriting craft and his skills as a live performer. The South Carolina rocker does more than 300 gigs a year with his eponymous band (McCain often stops into Memphis venues like the Gibson Showcase Lounge) and as an opener for acts like Hootie & the Blowfish and the Allman Brothers Band. His third post-Atlantic album — and his seventh release overall — Lost in America was released on the Vanguard label last year, garnering comparisons to melodic pop singer Matthew Sweet. Songs such as "Losing Tonight" and "My Mystery" are indeed reminiscent of Sweet's stylized Southern pop, with a dose of '80s alterna-rock thrown in for good measure. A laid-back performer who's more likely to win you over with his subtle charm than via onstage acrobatics or earsplitting vocals, McCain is nevertheless one of the most solid artists on the roster of the 2007 Beale Street Music Fest.

Corinne Bailey Rae

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Budweiser Stage

7:40 p.m.

This British-born singer-songwriter holds a lot of appeal, particularly for fans of Norah Jones-styled jazzy pop or Alicia Key's breathtaking neo-soul. A would-be classical violinist who picked up the electric guitar as a teenager, Rae displays a style and substance often lacking in today's pop artists. Her eponymous debut, released on EMI last year, struck gold at the Grammys and sold more than three million copies worldwide. Get a taste of her stage set by listening to Live in London & New York, released in April, then come on downtown to hear smash singles such as "Put Your Records On" and "Like a Star." With the humid and slow-rolling Mississippi River serving as the ultimate backdrop, the effervescent Rae will dazzle audiences with her sultry, steamy voice.

John Legend

Budweiser Stage

9:10 p.m.

Memphis might be celebrating the 50th anniversary of homegrown soul label Stax Records this year, but it's not all about the past, as neo-soul star John Legend will attest. A dramatic performer, Legend weighs in on love lost and found with tracks such as "Used To Love U" and "Ordinary People," both off his debut, Get Lifted. The Ohio-born singing sensation struck gold with his second effort, Once Again, which was released last October, went platinum, and netted him three Grammy wins — including Best New Artist — this spring. An accomplished session pianist who's penned songs with the likes of Alicia Keys and Kanye West (who signed Legend to his G.O.O.D. Sony imprint), Legend's one of the acts to watch at the 2007 Beale Street Music Fest. Be sure to get to the stage early: As fantastic as Legend's original songs are, you don't want to miss his cover of Marvin Gaye's "If This World Were Mine."

Alison Heafner

AutoZone Stage

2 p.m.

This Batesville, Mississippi, native earned her spot on the Beale Street Music Fest lineup by winning Memphis radio station Rock 103's Great Unsigned competition at the Overton Square Crawfish Festival. Heafner's sultry, bluesy rock sound won over the judges and the crowd at that festival. And it could happen again this time.

Egypt Central

AutoZone Stage

3:10 p.m.

Heirs apparent to Saliva's hard-rock crown, Memphis' own Egypt Central spent the early months of 2006 reaping the benefits of a Lava Records contract. But unfortunately, the band was dropped mere moments before the release of their debut album. An indie label, Bieler Bros., subsequently signed Egypt Central, but that deal faltered as well. Traveling to the big time has proven to be a long journey for the band, particularly frontman John Falls, who spent his childhood as a ward of the state. Converting his frustrations into a singular vision, Falls formed Egypt Central when he was just a teen. Today, songs such as "Walls of Innocence" and "You Make Me Sick" draw on that early rage. Download 'em off the band's My Space site so you'll know all the lyrics before the show. Whether or not they sign to another major, Egypt Central is sure to make it to the top.

Papa Roach

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AutoZone Stage

4:45 p.m.

Over the past decade, California-based quartet Papa Roach has evolved from a Saliva-type metal-rap outfit into a full-on rock group. That's not to say that they've lost their edge: The platinum-selling artists, led by lead vocalist Jacoby Shaddix, serve up rowdy hard rock that wouldn't sound out of place at the Whisky a Go Go on L.A.'s Sunset Strip. Their last album, The Paramour Sessions, released on Geffen in 2006, is a beguiling, brash effort in the vein of mid-'80s hair bands such as Hanoi Rocks or Mötley Crüe. Songs like "My Heart Is a Fist" and "The World Around You" are sure to get the testosterone pumping when Papa Roach hits the stage on Sunday night.

Project Pat

AutoZone Stage

6:20 p.m.

Shortly after longtime Three 6 Mafia affiliate Project Pat wrapped up three years in a federal penitentiary on a concealed-weapon charge, he released Crook By Da Book: The Fed Story. The streets were eager to welcome back Project Pat, but his new album — and the post-Academy Award-winning success of Triple 6 — quickly catapulted him to national fame. Now the felonious yet lovable MC, creator of memorable tunes such as "Chickenhead" and "Don't Save Her," is basking in the spotlight of Three 6 Mafia's sudden stardom, appearing in their MTV reality series Welcome to Hollyhood. When the Memphis-born hero appears onstage in Tom Lee Park this weekend, proclaiming, "Great Googly Moogly" or "I ain't going back to jail," expect the hometown audience to erupt.

Daughtry

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AutoZone Stage

7:35 p.m.

Judging by the furor over his appearance at the Beale Street Music Fest, Daughtry mania is just beginning. Sure, Chris Daughtry may not have won the 2006 season of American Idol, but he's certainly having the last laugh. The bald hard rocker lost out to Taylor Hicks, Elliott Yamin and Katherine McPhee, but the success of his eponymous debut album has put him at the head of the pack, leaving even judge Simon Cowell slack-jawed. On the popular TV show, the North Carolina native tapped into the raw energy of tunes such as Fuel's "Hemorrhage (In My Hands)" and Live's arrangement of the Johnny Cash anthem "Ring of Fire," but on the million-selling Daughtry, he's displaying his own talent for the post-grunge genre, penning songs such as "Gone" and "It's Not Over." Even the American Idol producers have gotten on board the Daughtry bandwagon, using his song "Home" as the theme music for departing contestants.

Hinder

AutoZone Stage

9:05 p.m.

Hinder, formed by Oklahoma City-based rockers Joe Garvey and Cody Hanson, are one of the most versatile acts to come from the post-grunge circuit. Vocalist Austin Winkler can change styles effortlessly, sounding like Axl Rose on "Homecoming Queen" and Puddle of Mudd frontman Wesley Reid Scantlin on "Better Than Me." Listen closely to the lyrics of songs like "Get Stoned" and "Lips of an Angel," and you'll discover that Extreme Behavior, Hinder's major-label debut, displays a misogynistic streak that might turn off most of the group's would-be female fans. Live, expect plenty of hapless dudes out in full force, shotgunning beers and staggering around as they shout the chorus to "Bliss (I Don't Wanna Know)."

James "Super Chikan" Johnson

TN Lottery Blues Tent

2 p.m.

Expect Clarksdale, Mississippi, native James "Super Chikan" Johnson to wield one of his Chikan-tars when he takes the stage at the Beale Street Music Fest this weekend. Johnson wrangles plenty of emotion from the homemade creations, which are part folk art, part musical instrument. The nephew of fellow Clarksdale guitar slinger Big Jack Johnson, he's a regular performer at actor Morgan Freeman's Ground Zero Blues Club. A formidable player in his own right, Super Chikan has four albums under his belt, including a clever 2005 effort called Chikan Supe.

The Lee Boys

TN Lottery Blues Tent

3:20 p.m.

Like pedal-steel virtuoso Robert Randolph, who exploded onto the jam-band scene at the beginning of this century, Florida-based family gospel group the Lee Boys are currently coordinating a crossover plan that will take them from the House of God (where sacred steel music is an integral part of Sunday services) to nightclubs and music festivals, secular outlets that have been historically frowned upon by church elders. Live, their trademark steel-guitar riffs, jubilant vocal style, and steady country-inflected rhythms, which combine into one incredibly uplifting musical message, have already won the Lee Boys a legion of new fans, including North Mississippi Allstars guitarist Luther Dickinson, who has sat in with the group on recent gigs. Don't miss their take on Mississippi Fred McDowell's "You Got To Move," which will have all of Tom Lee Park rocking this weekend.

Watermelon Slim

TN Lottery Blues Tent

4:50 p.m.

Watermelon Slim hardly fits the blues archetype. He's a Vietnam veteran, former trucker, card-carrying member of Mensa, and recipient of a master's degree from Oklahoma State University. Throughout his life's many twists and turns, Watermelon Slim has also channeled his creativity into a second career as a blues musician, releasing a protest album called Merry Airbrakes shortly after his stint in the service. Fast-forward three decades, and you'll find a talented songwriter, guitarist, and harmonica player who fronts his own blues band, called the Workers. On his own, Watermelon Slim is an enigma. With his National Steel acoustic guitar in hand, he's a Charley Patton throwback who screeches, yodels, and hollers his version of the blues, served wild and raw with a taste of Oklahoma twang. Songs like "Devil's Cadillac," "Dumpster Blues," "Drinking and Driving," and "Sawmill Holler" (the latter two are off his latest CD, The Wheel Man, which was released last month) are equal parts social commentary and pure, primitive entertainment, which makes Watermelon Slim one of the don't-miss acts at the Beale Street Music Fest.

Backdoor Slam

TN Lottery Blues Tent

6:25 p.m.

Hailing from the Isle of Man, this British blues trio — featuring Davy Knowles on guitar and mandolin, Adam Jones on bass, and Ross Doyle on drums — threatens to rock the Beale Street Music Fest with hard-hitting originals such as the searing "Come Home" and the meditative "It'll All Come Around," both off the band's forthcoming debut album, Roll Away. Backdoor Slam's Memphis appearance will be the second date on the group's 18-stop U.S. tour, which begins in New York City and wraps up at the Viper Room in Los Angeles. With a sound that harkens back to other British blues-rock exports (think Eric Clapton, John Mayall, or early Pink Floyd), Backdoor Slam just might be on their way to the top. Be sure to check out their music on MySpace before heading down to the festival on Sunday afternoon.

Tab Benoit

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TN Lottery Blues Tent

7:45 p.m.

This Cajun guitar slinger has plenty of musical tricks up his sleeve, ranging from the funky, Jimi Hendrix-inspired licks of songs such as "Fast and Free" to the Acadian folk themes that run through good-time tunes "Stackolina" and "Boat Launch Baby." Benoit stands and delivers on the material culled from his Louisiana roots, including his take on Lil Bob & the Lollipop's party anthem "I Got Loaded" and his rendition of Boozoo Chavis' zydeco romp "Dog Hill." He also knows how to write lyrics for New Orleans' rhythmic second-line strut, as displayed on numbers such as "Plareen Man" and "Her Mind Is Gone." Benoit serves up Memphis soul with a steady hand, as heard on his raspy version of Otis Redding's "These Arms of Mine," included on his 2002 Telarc album Wetlands. Sounding like a swamp-born Eddie Hinton, Benoit breathes fire into the song, wringing as much emotion from his instrument as he does his wearied voice. He's sure to perform it this weekend along with cuts from his upcoming album, Power of the Pontchartrain, which is slated to hit store shelves in June.

Elvin Bishop

TN Lottery Blues Tent

9:20 p.m.

Born in California, Elvin Bishop lacked an opportunity to immerse himself in the blues world until he was a college student at the University of Chicago. He quickly made up for lost time, delving into the early-'60s electric-blues scene, learning guitar basics from Howlin' Wolf sideman Smokey Smothers. Since then, Bishop has accompanied greats such as Paul Butterfield, Eric Clapton, Jimi Hendrix, and B.B. King and hosted an annual blues cruise for likeminded fans. He's a favorite act of Memphis audiences, who have gravitated to his blues-rock hybrid over the last four decades. Live, expect to hear his classic sides from the mid-'70s, such as "Traveling Shoes" and "Fooled Around and Fell in Love," as well as cuts from his latest album (and his 15th record overall), 2005's rootsy Gettin' My Groove Back.

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