The full lineup is out for this year's Beale Street Music Festival, which takes place Friday, April 29th through Sunday, May 1st at Tom Lee Park. It's being heralded by Memphis in May as "the biggest lineup ever." At the very least, it's certainly one of the most interesting and most contemporary lineups in a long time, blending the familiar mix of strong local, blues, jam-rock, and hard-rock acts with a better-than-usual blend of contemporary hip-hop/pop (Ludacris, Ke$ha) and alt/indie/roots-rock acts (Wilco, MGMT).
And if you watched last month's Grammy broadcast, you'll see lots of familiar faces, with four Grammy performers — Cee Lo, B.O.B., Mumford & Sons, the Avett Brothers — on the bill.
Three-day passes for the festival are on sale now. Single-day tickets go on sale starting at 2 p.m. today. For more information on ticketing, go here. For a full lineup and a stage-by-stage breakdown, keep reading. Set times have not been announced, but we do have the ordered lineups for each stage:
Horseshoe Casino Stage: Manchester Orchestra, Cage the Elephant, MGMT, Flaming Lips
Early Read: This stage will be alt-rock heaven Friday night, with relative newcomers Manchester Orchestra and the ascendant Cage the Elephant starting things off and veterans Flaming Lips — who had to cancel a scheduled set at last year's BSMF — capping it off. The flamboyant, theatrical Lips are definitely the safest live bet here, but most interesting might be seeing the Memphis-connected MGMT (lead singer Andrew VanWyngarden is a White Station High School grad and the son of Flyer editor Bruce VanWyngarden) in their biggest local setting yet. (Previous local MGMT shows were at the Hi-Tone Café and Minglewood Hall, respectively.)
FedEx Blues Tent: Will Tucker Band, Big Bill Morganfield, Tommy Castro, Jimmie Vaughan with Lou Ann Barton
Early Read: A very promising pairing of Texas roots/blues musicians — Jimmie Vaughan with Lou Ann Barton — headlines the blues tent Friday night. Guitar hotshot Vaughan (Stevie Ray's older brother) was a founding member of the Fabulous Thunderbirds, who paid homage to Memphis with their hit cover of Sam & Dave's "Wrap It Up." Barton, an Austin-based purveyor of Texas roadhouse blues, doesn't tour much. Blues fans won't want to miss this.
Horseshoe Casino Stage: One Less Reason, Sick Puppies, Hinder, 8Ball & MJG, Cee Lo, Ke$ha
Early Read: An interesting mix of rock, rap, and pop here. Local legends 8Ball & MJG are among the founding fathers of Southern rap, a fact that I guarantee you is not lost on Cee Lo, the hitmaking Atlanta crooner ("F—- You") who will follow them onto the stage and whose own Southern-rap background is probably not well known by many of his current fans. The headliner, mischievous Nashville pop tart Ke$ha, is both very popular and widely loathed. She will, at the least, be worth a look.
FedEx Blues Tent: Travis Wammack, Jimbo Mathus & the Tri-State Coalition, Devon Allman's Honeytribe, Reba Russell Band, Magic Slim & the Teardrops, Otis Clay
Early Read: Interesting local-connected bookends at the blues tent on Saturday: Memphis-bred guitar man Travis Wammack hit the charts as a teenager with his single "Scratchy" before moving on to be an ace session player at Muscle Shoals, Alabama's great Fame Studios. Chicago-based headliner Otis Clay made Memphis his home in the early ’70s, crafting a serious of terrific soul singles for Hi Records in Al Green's shadow.
Horseshoe Casino Stage: Amos Lee, Lucero, Gregg Allman, The Avett Brothers, Wilco
Early Read: A strong roots/alt-country lineup. Headliners Wilco might be the most respected American band of the past decade and will sound great in this setting. Locals Lucero are always a safe bet. The sleeper here is the North Carolina-via-Brooklyn folk-rock band The Avett Brothers , who followed 2009's terrific I And Love And You with a good 2010 live album (Live, Vol. 3) and got a nice boost with a strong Grammy performance alongside fellow BSMF newbies Mumford & Sons and some guy named Bob Dylan.
FedEx Blues Tent: The Lee Boys, Hubert Sumlin, John Hammond, Preston Shannon, Bettye Lavette
Early Read: Aging guitar legend Hubert Sumlin and Beale stalwart Preston Shannon are sure shots, but how about the blues tent bookends on Sunday? Florida's Lee Boys are a terrific sacred-steel ensemble, while soul-blues belter Bettye Lavette has had a very, very good comeback decade.