With emerging stars of rap, rock, and blues sharing stages with giants of jazz, blues, and soul, Memphis in May's Beale Street Music Festival is primed for another stellar year. The festival has become one of the largest music festivals in the country, routinely drawing more than 150,000 fans to the banks of the Big Muddy. This year's lineup should only help continue the festival's popularity, bringing roughly 60 acts from a variety of genres and generations for a three-day celebration of the city's mighty music heritage.
The Beale Street Music Fest will divide acts among four stages — along with a "blues shack" — in Tom Lee Park, a 33-acre site that sits at the base of historic Beale Street and stretches along the majestic Mississippi River.
On Friday night, American roots meets British art-pop as two cutting-edge artists — England's Florence + the Machine and Kentucky's My Morning Jacket — share the Bud Light Stage. Headbangers of different generations can find common ground on the Orion Stage with thrash-metal legends Megadeth and contemporary heavy-rockers Evanescence. And beat junkies can find a party going on at the Horseshoe Casino stage, where Chicago rapper Lupe Fiasco will give way to the ecstatic, fun-over-everything DJ style of Pittsburgh's Girl Talk.
On Saturday, a couple of classic alt-rock bands — the Cult and Jane's Addiction — bring their exciting reunions to the Bud Light Stage. Down-home soul will have a summit meeting when modern star Anthony Hamilton and Memphis legend Al Green share the Horseshoe Casino Stage. And two of the most interesting young acts in the blues world — Memphis-connected acoustic marvel Valerie June and electric guitar ace Gary Clark Jr. — will both be at the FedEx Blues Tent.
Wrapping up on Sunday, folk and Americana fans will want to camp out at the Horseshoe Casino Stage, where bluegrass siren Alison Krauss headlines a bill that includes emerging folk-rock stars the Civil Wars and the Head and the Heart. Jazz and jam fans can see keyboard legend Herbie Hancock give way to bass-thumping funk-rock stalwarts Primus on the Orion Stage. And two of the blues world's signature players — harmonica master Charlie Musselwhite and steel-guitar god Robert Randolph — will be in the FedEx Blues Tent.
Regardless of your musical tastes, you can find something — and probably lots of something — amid the kaleidoscope of sounds down on the river this weekend.
Beale Street Music Festival
Bud Light Stage
North Mississippi Allstars 6:10 – 7:15 p.m.
NeedToBreathe 7:40 – 8:50 p.m.
Florence + The Machine 9:15 – 10:25 p.m.
My Morning Jacket 10:55 p.m. – 12:25 a.m.
Orion Stage »
Volbeat 6:10 – 7:10 p.m.
Three 6 Mafia 7:35 – 8:35 p.m.
Megadeth 9 – 10:20 p.m.
Evanescence 10:50 p.m. – 12:20 a.m.
Horseshoe Casino Stage
Breathe Carolina 6 – 7 p.m.
Sponge Cola 7:25 – 8:30 p.m.
Lupe Fiasco 8:55 – 10 p.m.
Girl Talk 10:30 p.m. – midnight
FedEx Blues Tent
Jimbo Mathus & The Tri-State Coalition 6:15 – 7:20 p.m.
Will Tucker Band 7:45 – 9 p.m.
Bernard Allison 9:25 – 10:40 p.m.
Johnny Winter 11:10 p.m. – 12:30 a.m.
Friday, May 4th
North Mississippi Allstars
Bud Light Stage • 6:10 p.m.
Ten years after their debut, "Shake Hands With Shorty," Luther and Cody Dickinson — along with constant companion Chris Chew — honored their late father, producer Jim Dickinson, on their latest album, Keys to the Kingdom, a jaunty, defiant album about mortality and loss. That 2011 album and subsequent touring found the long-running, Memphis-area blues-rock institution in rejuvenated form.
Bud Light Stage • 7:40 p.m.
This crossover Christian rock/pop band from South Carolina, fronted by brothers Bo and Bear Rinehart, have been around for half a decade but were exposed to a more massive audience last year as an opening act on Taylor Swift's Speak Now tour.
Florence + the Machine
Bud Light Stage • 9:15 p.m.
While Adele has become the biggest breakout star in music over the past year, she isn't the only big voiced, red-haired, British female singer to emerge in a major way. Art-pop siren Florence Welch, who records with a rotating cast of musicians as Florence + the Machine, was nominated for a Best New Artist Grammy last year and watched the single "Dog Days Are Over," from her debut album Lungs, go platinum and score a rendition on Glee.
My Morning Jacket
Bud Light Stage • 10:55 p.m.
Louisville indie/alt-rockers My Morning Jacket is one of a rare breed of bands that has managed to climb its way to the top without the help of a bona-fide hit single. Instead, the band owes its headliner status to a strong grassroots movement cultivated through relentless touring and festival appearances and a consistently engaging body of recorded work. My Morning Jacket's sixth and most recent album, Circuital, came out in 2011 and might just be the band's best.
Orion Stage • 6:10 p.m.
If you want to spot a Beale Street Music Fest act playing tourist while in Memphis, Danish heavy-metal band Volbeat might be your best bet. The band's more traditional rock-and-roll take on metal doesn't just look back to '70s and '80s titans like AC/DC but back to the Memphis origins of rock with nods to Elvis Presley and Johnny Cash. (Album title: Guitar Gangsters & Cadillac Blood)
Three 6 Mafia
Orion Stage • 7:35 p.m.
The most successful rap group in Memphis history, Three 6 Mafia duo Juicy J and DJ Paul have juggled reality TV adventures with their music since winning an Oscar for the song "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp," from Memphis filmmaker Craig Brewer's film Hustle & Flow. The duo's next album, Laws of Power, has been on hold for a while, but they haven't stood still, with J and Paul releasing plenty of solo "mixtape" music in the interim. But they'll be back together on the Music Fest big stage in their hometown.
Orion Stage • 9 p.m.
Original Metallica guitarist Dave Mustaine founded the metal powerhouse Megadeth in 1981 after bitterly parting ways with his former, and soon-to-be massive, band. Ever since, Megadeth has dominated the thrash-metal scene, releasing a host of influential albums in the genre, including Peace Sells... but Who's Buying?, Rust in Peace, and Youthanasia.
Orion Stage • 10:50 p.m.
Led by the dynamic voice and presence of singer/pianist Amy Lee, longtime Little Rock modern/alt-rockers Evanescence virtually came out of nowhere on the national scene in 2003, selling 17 million copies of the debut LP Fallen. The group followed that break-out success with the multiplatinum smash The Open Door in 2006 and is currently touring in support of its third, self-titled LP, which was released in October 2011.
Horseshoe Casino Stage • 6 p.m.
This young electronic-rock duo from Colorado built a strong indie fanbase over the past few years, which led to their signing with major-label Columbia Records last December. With a national TV debut on Jimmy Kimmel Live and a main-stage slot on this summer's venerable Vans Warped tour, the band is on the rise.
Horseshoe Casino Stage • 7:25 p.m.
Representing this year's Memphis in May honored country, the Philippines, the rock/pop quartet Sponge Cola formed in 1998 among classmates at a Manila high school, first making waves with a cover of Madonna's "Crazy for You" that became an underground/Internet hit in their home country and has yielded a couple of dozen successful singles since.
Horseshoe Casino Stage • 8:55 p.m.
Chicago rapper Lupe Fiasco was introduced to the wider world via his guest spot on the Kanye West single "Touch the Sky," then he broke through with his own warmly iconoclastic hit single "Kick, Push." With a style more grounded and less glam than many of his mainstream hip-hop cohorts, the brainy Fiasco returned last spring with this third album, Lasers, which boasted the hit single "The Show Goes On."
Horseshoe Casino Stage • 10:30 p.m.
Pittsburgh DJ Gregg "Girl Talk" Gillis builds his sample-based, electronic party music on a foundation of pop familiarity, but his "songs" typically comprise elements from 20 or so source tracks, with hardcore rap, "classic" rock, and chart pop among his favorite sources. At a Girl Talk party, metal legends Black Sabbath might back up Southern rapper Ludacris. Eminem might duet with a coffee-house folk singer. Jay-Z might emerge from the sound for a quick interjection. Girl Talk's albums — 2006's The Night Ripper, 2008's Feed the Animals, 2010's All Day — are a blast, but this one-man "band" does his best work in front of an audience.
Jimbo Mathus & the Tri-State Coalition
FedEx Blues Tent • 6:15 p.m.
Oxford, Mississippi, native and American roots-music disciple James "Jimbo" Mathus has collaborated with everyone from Elvis Costello to Luther Dickinson to Buddy Guy, but he's perhaps best known as a member of the mid-'90s phenomenon the Squirrel Nut Zippers. Backed by his dynamite new group, the Tri-State Coalition, Mathus released his newest album, Confederate Buddha, on the local independent label Memphis International Records.
Will Tucker Band
FedEx Blues Tent • 7:45 p.m.
Young Memphis-based guitar hotshot Will Tucker honed his blues chops at B.B. King's Blues Club, where his band plays regular gigs. The up-and-coming six-string hopeful recorded his debut album, Stealin' the Soul, at Memphis' venerable Ardent Studios.
FedEx Blues Tent • 9:25 p.m.
Bernard Allison is a Chicago-based blues guitarist and singer who got his start performing alongside his legendary father, Luther Allison, as well as the Memphis-born singer Koko Taylor. Allison has released 15 full-length albums since striking out on his own in 1990 and is an internationally renowned live performer.
FedEx Blues Tent • 11:10 p.m.
Texas-born singer/guitarist Johnny Winter is nothing short of a modern blues legend. Discovered in the late '60s by Mike Bloomfield, Winter has gone on to establish himself as one of the premier electric blues guitar players of his generation, releasing over two dozen albums and performing tirelessly around the world.
Southern Comfort Blues Shack • 6:30, 7:15, & 8 p.m.
Now into his ninth decade, north Mississippi blues survivor T-Model Ford is still at it, flying his flag for a long-rooted blues style popularized by his late contemporaries Junior Kimbrough and R.L. Burnside.
Southern Comfort Blues Shack • 9, 9:45, & 10:30 p.m.
Delta blues musician Bill Abel plays country blues on a classic "cigar box" guitar and is known for his one-man-band shows.
Beale Street Music Festival
Bud Light Stage
Drew Holcomb & The Neighbors 2:30 – 3:40 p.m.
Son Volt 4:05 – 5:20 p.m.
Childish Gambino 5:45 – 6:50 p.m.
The Cult 7:15 – 8:30 p.m.
Grace Potter & The Nocturnals 8:55 – 10:15 p.m.
Jane's Addiction 10:50 p.m. – 12:20 a.m.
John Hiatt & The Combo 2:20 – 3:30 p.m.
Kenny Wayne Shepherd 3:55 – 5:10 p.m.
Buddy Guy 5:35 – 6:50 p.m.
Cold War Kids 7:15 – 8:25 p.m.
Yo Gotti 8:50 – 10:10 p.m.
Pitbull 10:40 p.m. – 12:10 a.m.
Horseshoe Casino Stage
Sponge Cola 2:25 – 3:35 p.m.
Big K.R.I.T. 4 – 5:15 p.m.
Black Lips 5:40 – 6:55 p.m.
Dr. Dog 7:20 – 8:35 p.m.
Al Green 9 – 10:15 p.m.
Anthony Hamilton 10:45 p.m. – 12:15 a.m.
FedEx Blues Tent
Victor Wainwright 2:15 – 3:25 p.m.
Robert "Wolfman" Belfour 3:50 – 5:05 p.m.
Larry McCray 5:30 – 6:45 p.m.
Valerie June 7:10 – 8:30 p.m.
The Bo Keys 8:55 – 10:15 p.m.
Gary Clark Jr. 10:45 p.m. – midnight
Saturday, May 5th
Drew Holcomb & the Neighbors
Bud Light Stage • 2:30 p.m.
Memphis-bred, Nashville-based singer-songwriter Drew Holcomb applies his rich baritone to an assured mix of folk, rock, and alt-country. His band's intimate, earnest sound was most recently captured on the 2011 album Chasing Someday, which landed the magisterial song "Live Forever" as the theme song for a great national ad campaign for the NBA last winter, opening Holcomb up to a broader audience.
Bud Light Stage • 4:05 p.m.
After the break-up of his vastly influential alt-country group Uncle Tupelo, Jay Farrar formed Son Volt in 1994 and picked up right where he left off. The band has released six critically acclaimed albums to date and is currently at work on a seventh scheduled for release this fall.
Bud Light Stage • 5:45 p.m.
Donald Glover first became a star for his role on the cult-fave sitcom Community, but his hip-hop alter-ego, Childish Gambino, has caught up quickly. Dropping brash, comical rhymes over both his own homemade beats and pre-existing indie-rock hits, Glover has built a following via a series of highly regarded Childish Gambino mixtapes, before releasing his official debut album, Camp, last year.
Bud Light Stage • 7:15 p.m.
After brief turns fronting latter-day "tribute" versions of the Doors and the MC5 in the early 2000s, singer Ian Astbury — and his longtime collaborator, guitarist Billy Duffy — re-formed the British alternative/hard-rock band the Cult in 2006. Ever since, the band, best known for hit singles like "She Sells Sanctuary," "Fire Woman," and "Love Removal Machine," has toured extensively throughout the world. The Cult's ninth studio album, Choice of Weapon, will be released in May.
Grace Potter & the Nocturnals
Bud Light Stage • 8:55 p.m.
Backed by her stellar group the Nocturnals, vocalist and multi-instrumentalist Grace Potter first came out on the roots/jam-rock scene in 2005 with the breakout indie-label success Nothing but the Water. Potter & Co. have since signed with the majors and released a string of increasingly successful albums, with Potter becoming a major name in country circles via her smash duet with Nashville megastar Kenny Chesney, "You and Tequila." A new album, The Lion The Beast The Beat, is due later this year.
Bud Light Stage • 10:50 p.m.
Led by the enigmatic musical impresario Perry Farrell, the re-re-formed version of the influential hard/alt-rock group Jane's Addiction features all but one original members — guitarist Dave Navarro and drummer Stephen Perkins are again along for the ride — and new bassist Chris Chaney has been on board off-and-on since 2002. The band is touring in support of its fourth studio album, The Great Escape Artist, which came out in October 2011.
John Hiatt & The Combo
Orion Stage • 2:20 p.m.
Singer-songwriter John Hiatt has composed hits for other artists (Three Dog Night, Rosanne Cash) and emerged as a major-league artist on his own with '80s albums like Bring the Family and Slow Turning. Hiatt has lots of Memphis connections — he's collaborated with the late Jim Dickinson and the North Mississippi Allstars and wrote the song "Memphis in the Meantime" — and hits this year's festival on the strength of a new album, Dirty Jeans and Mudslide Hymns.
Kenny Wayne Shepherd
Orion Stage • 3:55 p.m.
Despite his relatively young age, 34-year-old blues-rock guitarist and singer/songwriter Kenny Wayne Shepherd already has more than two decades of success in the music business under his belt. Shepherd's many career accolades include seven Top 10 singles, five Grammy nominations, and two Blues Music Awards.
Orion Stage • 5:35 p.m.
To call Buddy Guy something of an influential figure in the history of the blues would be, well, understating things. The 75-year-old electric guitar icon is a known influence on legends like Eric Clapton and Jimi Hendrix. What's more, Guy is still a consummate showman in his elder years and shows no signs of slowing down his licks or onstage antics.
Cold War Kids
Orion Stage • 7:15 p.m.
Long Beach, California's Cold War Kids are a four-piece, piano-driven rock band known for their heartfelt, emo-ish songwriting and wildly energetic live shows. The group has released three critically acclaimed full-length albums, including 2011's Mine Is Yours — the group's biggest hit to date.
Orion Stage • 8:50 p.m.
With a more grounded, regular-guy spin on the hardcore Memphis rap sound, North Memphis' Yo Gotti has followed Three 6 Mafia out of the Bluff City and onto the national stage, partnering with national stars like Lil Wayne (on "Women Lie, Men Lie") and Nicki Minaj (on "Five Star Remix") and scoring entirely solo hits such as "We Can Get It On" and "I Got Dat Sack." A prolific mixtape artist, Gotti's most recent major-label album, Live From the Kitchen, came out earlier this year.
Orion Stage • 10:40 p.m.
Cuban-American rapper Pitbull emerged from Miami in the past decade and has recorded and performed in both English and Spanish while updating his hometown's classic bass-driven rap sound. Pitbull's most recent album, 2011's Planet Pit, featured hit collaborations with Jennifer Lopez and T-Pain.
Horseshoe Casino Stage • 2:25 p.m.
Representing this year's Memphis in May honored country, the Philippines, the rock/pop quartet Sponge Cola formed in 1998 among classmates at a Manila high school, first making waves with a cover of Madonna's "Crazy For You" that became an underground/Internet hit in their home country and has yielded a couple of dozen successful singles since.
Horseshoe Casino Stage • 4 p.m.
Meridian, Mississippi's Big K.R.I.T. is a Southern rap upstart whose sound and content are more grounded than most. With an old-soul flavor that mostly sidesteps crunk and "gangsta," K.R.I.T.'s sharply rapped, heartfelt stories of making his way from rural Mississippi to the cusp of rap royalty have made him one of the genre's most interesting new artists. A recent signee to Def Jam Records, Big K.R.I.T. has released a series of well-received mixtapes as he preps his major-label debut.
Horseshoe Casino Stage • 5:40 p.m.
Known for their energetic, at times theatrical live shows, Atlanta garage-punk band the Black Lips have risen to the forefront of the Southern alt-rock scene with a series of hooky, firecracker rock albums for high-profile New York indie Vice Records, most recently 2009's 200 Million Thousand and 2011's Arabia Mountain.
Horseshoe Casino Stage • 7:20 p.m.
Dr. Dog is a six-piece psychedelic rock group that hails from West Grove, Pennsylvania. The band, complete with charmingly nasal, high-pitched vocals and swirling synthesizers, is easily compared to indie-rock icons the Flaming Lips or Mercury Rev but with a rootsier edge. Dr. Dog's latest album, Be the Void, came out in February, and the band is fresh off of national TV performances on Conan and Late Night with Jimmy Fallon earlier this year.
Horseshoe Casino Stage • 9 p.m.
Arguably Memphis music's greatest living artist, Green belongs on the Mt. Rushmore of soul vocalists along with the likes of Aretha Franklin and Sam Cooke, his repertoire of flutters, sighs, grunts, repetitions, and other effects transcending mere words even when in the service of a great lyric. Green recorded a string of classic albums in the 1970s — Call Me, I'm Still in Love With You, The Belle Album — before abandoning pop music for the pulpit of his Memphis-based Full Gospel Tabernacle Church. In recent years, however, he's made a return to secular sounds with a strong series of comeback albums, the best of which is 2008's Lay It Down.
Horseshoe Casino Stage • 10:40 p.m.
Soul singer/songwriter/producer Anthony Hamilton came to the national consciousness as a collaborator with artists like D'Angelo, Jadakiss, and Nappy Roots. He broke out on his own in 2003 with his second studio album, Coming From Where I'm From. His newest album, Back to Love, was released in 2011.
Victor Wainwright & the WildRoots
FedEx Blues Tent • 2:15 p.m.
A promising young practitioner of the old-time boogie-woogie piano sound, Memphis' Victor Wainwright unites Memphis soul and blues with New Orleans R&B, as suggested by the name of his debut album, Beale Street to the Bayou. Wainwright and his band, the WildRoots, returned in fine form with last year's Lit Up, which helped land Wainwright a nomination for the Pinetop Perkins Piano Player of the Year award at next week's annual Blues Music Awards.
Robert "Wolfman" Belfour
FedEx Blues Tent • 3:50 p.m.
North Mississippi blues singer/guitarist Robert "Wolfman" Belfour is still a more-than-capable performer at the age of 71. His music, steeped in the hill-country blues tradition of R.L. Burnside and Junior Kimbrough, is beloved by blues fans and critics around the world.
FedEx Blues Tent • 5:30 p.m.
Arkansas-born and Michigan-raised singer-guitarist Larry McCray plays piercing electric blues in the manner of the three Kings (B.B., Albert, and Freddie).
FedEx Blues Tent • 7:10 p.m.
Long one of Memphis music's best-kept secrets, Valerie June is finally emerging. Weaving traditional folk, country, blues, and gospel influences into a distinctly modern sound, June's idiosyncratic vocals and striking appearance have marked her as a potential star, and, lately, the music business seems to be catching up. June's got a debut album on the way featuring collaborations with the Black Keys' Dan Auerbach and Memphis legend Booker T. Jones. She's also partnered with fellow Beale Street Music Fest performer Luther Dickinson (of the North Mississippi Allstars) and other Memphis-area roots musicians in the new blues/folk "supergroup" the Wandering.
The Bo Keys
FedEx Blues Tent • 8:55 p.m.
Bluff City musician/producer Scott Bomar's long-running band the Bo-Keys is a loving and accurate tribute to the classic Memphis-soul sounds of Stax and Hi Records. In addition to the bass-thumping Bomar, the group features an all-star collection of musicians from the era, including drummer Howard Grimes (Al Green, Ann Peebles) and trumpet player Ben Cauley (the Bar-Kays).
Gary Clark Jr.
FedEx Blues Tent • 10:45 p.m.
A longtime Austin, Texas, blues-scene fixture, the still-young Gary Clark Jr., now 27, has emerged over the past year as the blues' great hope, an artist with the command and charisma to cross over to the mainstream pop-rock world. Hearing was believing on Clark's startling 2011 release Brights Lights EP, a four-song debut for major-label Warner Bros. that served as a teaser for Clark's heavily anticipated full-length debut for the label. Clark is emerging as a blues-rock guitar hotshot who can excite non-blues fans and critics in a way that Stevie Ray Vaughan, Robert Cray, and Buddy Guy once did.
Blind Mississippi Morris
Southern Comfort Blues Shack • 3, 3:45, 4:30, & 5:15 p.m.
Memphis blues-scene favorite Blind Mississippi Morris is a master of the harmonica.
Southern Comfort Blues Shack • 6:15, 7:15, 8, & 8:45 p.m.
A frequent collaborator with Blind Mississippi Morris, Brad Webb is a local blues mainstay as both performer and organizer — and is the real deal on the guitar.
Beale Street Music Festival
Bud Light Stage
Prosevere 2:20 – 3:25 p.m.
Black Stone Cherry 3:50 – 4:55 p.m.
Coheed and Cambria 5:20 – 6:35 p.m.
Bush 7 – 8:20 p.m.
Wiz Khalifa 8:50 – 10:20 p.m.
Zoogma 2:05 – 3:10 p.m.
the Chris Robinson Brotherhood 3:35 – 4:45 p.m.
Michael Franti & Spearhead 5:10 – 6:30 p.m.
Herbie Hancock 6:55 – 8:10 p.m.
Primus 8:40 – 10:10 p.m.
Horseshoe Casino Stage
Old 97's 2:15 – 3:25 p.m.
The Head and The Heart 3:50 – 5 p.m.
Little Richard 5:25 – 6:30 p.m.
The Civil Wars 6:55 – 8 p.m.
Alison Krauss & Union Station 8:30 – 10 p.m.
FedEx Blues Tent
Alexis P. Suter Band 2:05 – 3:15 p.m.
Alvin Youngblood Hart's Muscle Theory 3:40 – 4:50 p.m.
Duke Robillard 5:15 – 6:35 p.m.
Charlie Musselwhite 7 – 8:20 p.m.
Robert Randolph & the family Band 8:50 – 10:15 p.m.
Sunday, May 6th
Bud Light Stage • 2:20 p.m.
This young Memphis metal band has risen over the past few years to the top of their scene, led by the soaring vocals of Gary Segars. The band has recently expanded their sound with a late-2011 acoustic EP, Three.
Black Stone Cherry
Bud Light Stage • 3:50 p.m.
Kentucky quartet Black Stone Cherry is a modern hard-rock band that is reminiscent of chart-topping peers such as Nickelback and Daughtry but with a strong Southern-rock tinge. The group has charted eight Top 40 singles since 2006, including the Top 10 smash "In My Blood."
Coheed & Cambria
Bud Light Stage • 5:20 p.m.
New York rock quartet Coheed & Cambria blends elements of punk/emo, progressive metal, and sci-fi/fantasy to create a sound that is exciting and anything but familiar. The band's sixth concept album based on singer Claudio Sanchez's fictional, comic-book saga known as The Armory Wars is due out later this year.
Bud Light Stage • 7 p.m.
British alt-rockers Bush had a string of big hits in the '90s, including "Everything Zen," "Glycerine," and "Machinehead." The band, which originally disbanded in 2002, is newly back together and touring behind its first new album in over a decade, The Sea of Memories.
Bud Light Stage • 8:50 p.m.
The Pittsburgh rapper Wiz Khalifa had already released independent and major-label albums, but when his hometown-repping — and much-imitated — late 2010 single "Black and Yellow" became a gargantuan, Internet-driven hit, he seemed like a brand-new artist. Khalifa capitalized on his breakout single with his 2011 album, Rolling Papers, which debuted at number two on the albums charts.
Orion Stage • 2:05 p.m.
Oxford, Mississippi, upstarts Zoogma tap into the growing trends of uniting jam-band rock with dance-party electronica, and they put that combo across with a high-energy, high-tech live show.
The Chris Robinson Brotherhood
Orion Stage • 3:35 p.m.
Chris Robinson is best known as the singer and co-bandleader (along with brother Rich Robinson) of the Black Crowes. But he's had a successful solo career, releasing three fine albums. His current live band, the Chris Robinson Brotherhood, features Memphian George Sluppick on drums.
Michael Franti & Spearhead
Orion Stage • 5:10 p.m.
Michael Franti emerged a couple decades ago as a hip-hop artist with the group the Disposable Heroes of Hiphoprisy but has worked in elements of reggae, funk, jazz, soul, and rock as an eclectic solo artist fronting the backing band Spearhead. He finally scored his first crossover hit with his sunny but uncompromising 2008 anthem "Say Hey (I Love You)."
Herbie Hancock and His Band
Orion Stage • 6:55 p.m.
One of the true living legends of jazz, keyboardist/composer/bandleader Herbie Hancock helped shape the sound of post-bop jazz as a member of Miles Davis' band in the '60s, went on to help mainstream jazz embrace synthesizers and funk while leading his own band in the '70s, and scored perhaps the last actual instrumental-jazz hit single with his MTV-era staple "Rockit" in the '80s.
Orion Stage • 8:40 p.m.
Bass virtuoso Les Claypool has fronted the avant alt-rock trio known as Primus for nearly 30 years now. In that time, he's seen many members (mostly drummers) come and go, but Claypool has maintained the same weird energy that drove hit singles like "My Name Is Mud."
Horseshoe Casino Stage • 2:15 p.m.
Alt-country isn't a genre exactly known for heartthrobs. But if there is one, it's Rhett Miller of the Old 97's. The band has been together almost 20 years and over a dozen recordings — most of which center on Miller's catchy (and, at times, gut-wrenching) tales of failed love and personal excess.
The Head and the Heart
Horseshoe Casino Stage • 3:50 p.m.
This Seattle folk-rock sextet mixes rollicking pop with rootsy Americana. A self-distributed debut in 2009 got the band signed to their hometown Sub Pop label, which led to opening slots with acts such fellow Beale Street Music Fest acts Dr. Dog and My Morning Jacket. Now a headliner, the band will head into their second Sub Pop album as one of the indie scene's true bands on the rise.
Horseshoe Casino Stage • 5:25 p.m.
One of the last living legends of the '50s rock explosion, Little Richard — who will turn 80 this year — brings his spine-tingling squeal and chaotic piano to the birthplace of rock-and-roll. Expect to hear such eternal and once-revolutionary hits as "Tutti Frutti" and "Good Golly Miss Molly."
The Civil Wars
Horseshoe Casino Stage • 6:55 p.m.
This Nashville duo — Joy Williams and John Paul White — specializes in a folk-rock sound that unites modern-day production sheen with styles rooted deep in the 19th century: modest country laments, fervent gospel harmonies, elegant waltz-time hymns. Thanks to a Grey's Anatomy placement and an endorsement from Taylor Swift — with whom they've since collaborated on a song for The Hunger Games soundtrack — the Civil Wars have become one of the biggest acts in Nashville.
Alison Krauss & Union Station Featuring Jerry Douglas
Horseshoe Casino Stage • 8:30 p.m.
Alison Krauss emerged from the margins to become a folk-and-country leading lady even before she crossed over as one of the key figures on the O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack. She's gone on to duet from artists ranging from Brad Paisley to Robert Plant, all while remaining true to her bluegrass roots. For this Beale Street Music Fest performance, Krauss and her longtime band, Union Station, will be joined by dobro master Jerry Douglas.
Alexis P. Suter Band
FedEx Blues Tent • 2:05 p.m.
A nominee for Best Soul-Blues Female Artist at this year's Blues Music Awards, the Brooklyn-born Suter began wowing audiences as a frequent performer at the late Levon Helm's famed "Midnight Ramble" concerts and is now emerging as a potential new star on the roots/blues/soul scene.
Alvin Youngblood Hart's Muscle Theory
FedEx Blues Tent • 3:40 p.m.
The Memphis-based Hart is one of blues and roots-rock's most versatile talents — a guitar virtuoso equally adept at electric howlers and acoustic shimmies. His voracious musical appetite can erupt in everything from Delta blues to cosmic American country to arena-sized rock to more obscure stylistic byways. Hart will take the stage this weekend with his electric power-trio band, Muscle Theory.
FedEx Blues Tent • 5:15 p.m.
Former Roomful of Blues and Fabulous Thunderbirds guitarist Michael John "Duke" Robillard has recorded and performed with a host of music legends over the years. A talented and popular solo act/bandleader in his own right, Robillard's latest album, Low Down and Tore Up, came out last year.
FedEx Blues Tent • 7 p.m.
This Memphis-connected blues legend is arguably the genre's greatest living harmonica player. And despite being a blues-scene fixture for more than 40 years, he's as vital as ever.
Robert Randolph & the Family Band
FedEx Blues Tent • 8:50 p.m.
Pedal-steel guitarist Robert Randolph emerged on the national scene as a part of the Word, a collaboration between John Medeski and the North Mississippi Allstars in 2001. Since then, he's developed into one of the most hard-working soul/gospel musicians on the planet, releasing five full-length albums and touring the globe nearly nonstop with his backing group, the Family Band.
Southern Comfort Blues Shack • 2:30, 3:15. & 4 p.m.
University of Memphis musicologist David Evans is both a scholar and practitioner of the region's various blues and folk styles.
Southern Comfort Blues Shack • 5:45, 6:30, & 7:15 p.m.
North Mississippi blues guitarist Kenny Brown's resume as a side player is unmatched. Over the years, he's collaborated with nearly every noteworthy blues figure from the area. He's also a capable frontman in his own right.